Northwest Roadtrip 2015

{On the road, hills covered with pines, firs, and oaks}
{On the road, hills covered with pines, firs, and oaks}


First the bad news: I got absolutely no writing done during these two weeks. I had hoped to pick up writing my last chapters of the upcoming book, but between being busy from the time I got up in the morning to the time we quit, and being completely exhausted (brain dead) after that, it didn’t happen.

The good news is that my daughter-in-law (who I will call Susan) and grandson (I’ll call Stanley, which is actually his middle name after my dad) are safely in Iowa and reunited with my son. His new job seems to be going well and hopefully they’ll be able to make a good life for themselves there. I’m already brainstorming the best way to visit them and wondering if I can book tour along the way.

The first week started off with my youngest daughter’s official move to her new digs. Not that she would let me do very much to help her, but I was completely distracted anyway. She didn’t physically move into her new place, however, as she had agreed to stay with Buu while I was gone.

I hit the road a couple of days later, glad it was overcast and rainy almost the whole way there.

{Dark clouds over parched California hillsides}
{Dark clouds over parched California hillsides}


Mount Shasta is one of my favorite landmarks on this trip – the last one before passing into Oregon. Seeing snow on the slopes in summer is always a welcome sight. It has been so dry for so long, I was afraid there would be no snow left.

{A glimpse of snow on the flanks of Mt. Shasta}
{A glimpse of snow on the flanks of Mt. Shasta}


The mountain was difficult to see because of low cloud, but I needed to stop for gas so pulled off the highway to Mt. Shasta City, a nice little mountain town (elevation approx. 3,600 ft) nestled into the southwest flank of the mountain. Close up, it was easier to just make out the stripes of white. I’d stopped there for gas before but never driven around the town, so I took a few minutes to explore. That’s all it took – it’s a very small town. It’s the kind of place I could imagine retiring to – very relaxed, small town vibe, somewhat touristy but quaintly so, a definite hippy element reminding me vaguely of Northern Exposure for some reason, and not too crowded. I have a feeling it’s more of a happening place in winter when the ski slopes are open.

Then on into Oregon. Grants Pass is a favorite stopping place and that’s where I spent the night.

Oregon is pretty but, just like California, almost completely dry right now (notice the grass in the first photograph). One of my problems with Oregon is its dearth of Starbucks. After several years of doing this trip, I’ve figured out where some are by now, but I’m always glad to get through Portland and into Washington. Then on toward the Canadian border to my destination.

Susan had already done a lot but there was still an enormous amount to do. Over the next three and half days we sorted, boxed, packed, threw away, and cleaned. Pretty much non-stop (and she did most of the cleaning). I rented a 15 foot U-Haul truck and took loads to the dump and recycle center, the thrift store, and the storage unit. I was sure we wouldn’t be able to get everything into the unit, but we almost did – using logic, spatial analysis (non-mathmatical, of course), and a little bit of physics. It also helped that I’m very good at puzzles.

Throughout this, two-year-old Stanley was amazing. Not perfect, but amazing. In spite of not seeing his dad in two weeks, watching his world dismantle around him, and enduring long days without much fun or close interaction, he remained (for the most part) sweet and happy. I guess he takes after his parents!

My original plan for this trip was to help my daughter-in-law get things done and then see her safely off on the road. Then I’d take a leisurely drive back home. I especially hoped to spend a day or two exploring the Olympic Peninsula. However by the time we were done with everything, I was exhausted and aching and all I really wanted to do was go home. She had heard of a town in the eastern Washington mountains, Leavenworth, that she very much wanted to visit. What with one thing and another, and sharing her curiosity, I decided to go with her.

{Blue sky, whilte fluffy clouds, mountainsides covered in evergreens, craggy mountain tops}
{Blue sky, whilte fluffy clouds, mountainsides covered in evergreens, craggy mountain tops}


{Evergreen covered mountainsides with craggy peaks beyond}
{Evergreen covered mountainsides with craggy peaks beyond}


We convoyed (all two of us) up the mountain road, her with a car completely loaded with the things she thought she’d need for the next two months or so – including Stanley and Ellie, the cat, of course – and me with my own things including a few things that didn’t fit into the storage unit (my son’s cello, a comforter, etc.) and bottles of my son’s delicious homemade wine.

{A tabby cat with white markings enjoying a rest stop}
{A tabby cat with white markings enjoying a rest stop}


I’m glad I went. The drive was very pleasant and the landscape beautiful. I was able to help her a little, keeping an eye on Ellie (another award-worthy trooper) while we took a break in a park and Stanley played. Then we drove on into Leavenworth, a cute “German” town in the mountains. It was already getting late and many of the shops were closed, including this book store, A Book For All Seasons, that I would love to go back and explore one day.

{"A Book For All Seasons" book store in Leavenworth}
{“A Book For All Seasons” book store in Leavenworth}


{Shops in Leavenworth, Washington look like they belong in the Black Forest of Germany}
{Shops in Leavenworth, Washington look like they belong in the Black Forest of Germany}


{Shops in Leavenworth, Washington look like they belong in Germany's Black Forest}
{Shops in Leavenworth, Washington look like they belong in Germany’s Black Forest}


Susan (of partly German heritage) had her heart set on German food, but time was an issue. We couldn’t afford to spend too long looking for a restaurant or waiting for food. We found a pub, which probably wasn’t exactly what she had in mind, but we were able to order sauerkraut and bratwurst and get on the road soon after. We had parked in different ends of town (parking was an issue) and I ducked into a gift shop on the way back to my car, not wanting to leave empty handed. I bought a pretty ornament for my son’s family (for their first Christmas in their new home) and pretty copper earrings for my daughters.

Copper and black earrings with butterfly and flower design
Copper and black earrings with butterfly and flower design


We spent the night just off the I-90 near Moses Lake. In the morning we filled our cars up with gas together before hitting the road. That’s when I saw the smoke. It was obviously back in the direction we’d come from, so Susan’s journey wouldn’t be affected, but mine might.

{Billowing black smoke from the fire off the I-90}
{Billowing black smoke from the fire off the I-90}


And so it was; a huge fire closed the highway in both directions and caused me to detour back to Moses Lake and many miles around (after dithering, stopping for snacks, and getting Starbucks!) In effect it cost me a day’s travel, but all’s well that ends well. After three days driving, I arrived home safe and the next day Susan, Stanley, and Ellie arrived safely in Iowa.

Two days later my youngest daughter moved to her new home. Leaving me the cat. Yay! Now to finish that book. . . .

Currently writing: Finishing TGJ Book 2.

Listening: Speak – Pedals

Reading: American Gods by Neil Gaiman and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente

Watching: Sherlock Holmes and Midsomer Murders



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com New edition coming!

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2015 B B Shepherd and China Blue Publishing.

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