Posts Tagged ‘Oregon’

I Smiled

Today, I was crossing the Glenn Jackson bridge from Washington to Oregon. It was a very hot day today with a clear blue sky. As I was in the bridge, I glanced to the East of the bridge and see a couple of sail boats. I had to take another look because I had never seen that before! Not from this bridge. Not on this river (Columbia).

I had to smile. It reminded me of all the times I saw Many, many sailboats all in the San Francisco Bay when I would cross the Golden Gate Bridge. Up there, sail boats crowd the bay at the first sign of spring and during the summer months. It’s a beautiful sight!

All these little memories of happier times and happier places make me smile.

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About 6 years ago, my heater stopped working. My daughter’s boyfriend’s came over to see what was wrong and try to fix it. It turned out that the part that had worn away couldn’t be replaced because the unit was so old that they no longer make the parts for it.

Since then, I have been heating the house with two infrared room heaters. This year one didn’t fire up when I plugged it in. The other one did and was doing great since October. Somewhere around Thanksgiving, it stopped working. It turns on and it blows hot air but it’s just not doing the high setting that I need. It was okay at first. I layered my clothes and piled on the blankets. But then our temperatures dropped. Dropped way down. That meant I wasn’t going to be able to heat the house enough for me to be here.

Of course, heaters are expensive right now because of the cold weather all over. And of double course, I live off of one thousand dollars a month total. After rent and insurance and gas for the car, there’s not enough left to buy a heater or even save up for one.

The past two weeks have dipped into freezing temperatures with ice and snow on the ground. So I spent a week and a half at my daughter’s. But I can’t stay there forever. I came home yesterday. Temps were finally out of the freezing zone. Still in the lower 30s but at least above 32. At first I thought it would be okay but within a couple of hours, it got so cold in here that my head hurt. It felt like my head was going to crack open. Again, I put on multiple layers of clothes and blankets but it helped little. I covered my head completely. At one point I was afraid to go to sleep because I knew if I did, I wouldn’t wake up.

Today’s mission, whether I choose to accept it or not, is to go out into that cruel world, masked, and try to find a heater I can afford. I don’t think I can go through another night like last night.

Wish me luck. Hope and pray I can find one for less than $80. That’s all I can afford and even that will be stretching things. Peter will have to look the other way while Paul reaches for the money.

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Rain, Wind, and Driving

I used to love rainy weather. Now, not so much. As I get older, it becomes a lot more difficult to be out in the rain. I don’t walk so well anymore. I use a cane with a quad tip on it because I lose my balance and tend to fall a lot so being out in the rain, walking in it, is not such a great idea. Then there’s the driving in it. 

I live in Oregon. It rains a lot here. People take the rain as if it were nothing to be cautious about. That’s not always so good. It tends to make them less careful out in the rain (same for snow when we get it). And this area, Portland-Vancouver, has really bad traffic. It’s much worse than anywhere I’ve driven, like the horrendous Los Angeles traffic. That’s a breeze compared to up here.  

Oregon Rain, photo by Corina Carrasco

The other day, I mentioned in a post that I don’t like driving over the Columbia River to see my daughter and the kids. That’s the only way to get there. Either I cross the river on the I-5 bridge or the Glenn L. Jackson (I-205). There are a couple of other bridges connecting Oregon and Washington but they are a couple of hours away and they are really bad (two very narrow lanes, one in each direction). The Glenn Jackson Bridge is nearest my home because I live east of the 205 so I go west 6 miles to get to the 205. The 5 is further west and more congested. The Glenn Jackson Bridge is wide, 8 lanes of traffic plus a 9-foot-wide pedestrian/cyclist span between the north and south vehicular traffic.  It’s not very long, only about 2.2 miles. However, it catches the wind and vehicles are tossed around like wads of foil. And you guess it, we get a lot of wind here. Even “light” winds can be treacherous on the bridge. Last week I crossed the bridge and it was so rainy and windy that no one was driving any faster than about 40 mph (the posted speed is 60). Cars were fish tailing and skidding. My own car, a light weight Prius, was swept out of my lane (3rd from the center) all the way to the center divider and back across to my la before I could regain control. 

So I hate driving in this rainy, windy weather.  

When I moved here in 2007, I was not in such poor physical or medical states so I didn’t mind moving to a rainy locale. But that was a long time ago. I get progressively worse and, in all honesty, the winters are also getting progressively worse here.  

I have more to say about driving. But it’s late and everyone is asleep and all the lights are out and Maya will be getting up and waking me in about four hours so I best end now and pick it up another time.  

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The morning of my appointment the skies were clear and the snow was all but gone. I had made the appointment for 3 in the afternoon. The drive was supposed to be only about an hour. I’m the forever early type of person and figured I would allow myself time to drive there then sit and have something to eat and maybe stop in at a used bookstore I had read about. The plan was to get there and relax until my appointment time then head back down the hill to my Ashland motel and then head for home on Wednesday. That was the plan anyway.

In the motel, the last thing I did was finish watching a news report about a California family that was missing after leaving and heading south back to the bay area. It was believed they had taken a bad road and were now missing for more than a day. I left the motel and headed for the tire store to buy chains for the car. They sold me cables and I made sure there were instructions. The clerk even walked me through it. I didn’t need them but I was trying to be cautious because I didn’t know what the weather was like up the mountain. It was about 10 am or so. Off I went into the wild blue yonder! So I thought.

I only got about fifteen minutes away before it started to snow. And it came on heavily. About five miles later, it was obvious that I needed the cables on the tires. I found a chain up area with several other vehicles stopped. I tried to figure out how to put the cables on but I wasn’t able to do it so I went up to someone putting them on their truck and asked for help. The man came over and put them on for me. However, he did show me that there was a longish part that should be cut off with wire cutters but he didn’t have any so he had just wrapped it around part of the cable on the tire. I thanked him and off I went. The going was very slow. I didn’t mind it. It gave me time to enjoy the beauty of the mountain in the snow. The tall evergreens on either side of the road, covered in snow, were amazing. It was like driving through a snowy tree tunnel. For awhile I was right behind a snow plow. That wasn’t too bad as long as I kept far enough back so I didn’t get all of the snow blow back, or whatever you call that!

Then I came to a crossroad and wondered. That was the road I was supposed to take off on to cut twenty minutes off of my trip. Or so I thought. I debated a bit because everyone was going the other way. But the only directions I had were to take that road. So I did. Big mistake.

After only about a mile, the snow accumulation was such that the road was only wide enough for one car. Not one in each direction. Just one car. I could not even figure out how to turn around and go back. I would have had to put the car in reverse and go back. I was following the GPS and it showed there were a few side roads nearby and I thought maybe I could turn around there. I forged on. It was still beautiful yet I was  beginning to feel like there might be something unbeknownst up ahead. However, I really didn’t have a choice but to go on. As I passed the roads shown on the GPS, I couldn’t see any roads. All I saw was snow all around me.

Then I started to hear something that sounded like scraping on the car and I thought I might have caught a tree branch under the car. I stopped, put my four way flashers on (although I hadn’t seen a car for a long time) and got out to investigate. I saw that the extra wire from the tire cables had come unwound from the cable and was scraping on the inside of the front driver’s fender. I tried to wrap it back around the cable but I had no gloves and my frozen hands got cut. I got back in the car and went on. No choice but to do that. The scraping continued and unfortunately I didn’t think anything would happen so I went on. I really didn’t have a choice. I had a cell phone with me and thought maybe I could call auto club but there was no signal. The GPS showed nothing anywhere near me. I had to go on.

I went through, at about 15 mph, that road and finally got to the main road. Just as I merged onto the main highway, I felt and saw something fly by and hit the side of the car. I pulled over right away. I got out and found a huge hole in the side of the car. It was the fender that the wire had been scraping against. The scraping had caused it to wear away and the whole thing flew off. I saw the piece a way behind the car. I walked over and picked it up and put it in the trunk. I knew I was only about five miles from the doctor’s office so I went on, figuring I could find some help there. As I drove into the small town, VERY small town of Chiloquin, I realized everything was closed. I made it to the doctor’s office about thirty minutes before my appointment. The supposed-to-be-drive of one hour had taken over four and a half hours of time and about one hundred per cent of my nerves and stamina. From the waiting room, I was able to use the office phone to call Avis only to be told they could do nothing for me until “the day after tomorrow” and suggested I call my own auto club to see what they could do for me. I called auto club but they said they couldn’t help until the morning. They suggested I find a motel for the night and they would get to me first thing in the morning.

I saw the doctor. He took extra time with me because it had been so long since I had seen a doctor for anything. I agreed to wait while he saw other patients so he could spend that extra time for me. I had nowhere to go anyway so I waited. It was a good wait. They kept me entertained, bringing me magazines and a snack (I hadn’t had breakfast or lunch). When all was said and done, the doctor had stocked me up with about six months worth of sample packages of three of the prescriptions he wrote for me. He knew I had no insurance and one of the medications was not available in generic form and was over $150 for one month. We had a long, long talk. He asked about the kids and I was able to fill him in on the little kids who were now grown, two of them out of the house. I showed him pictures of them. He had his staff try to find me a motel nearby but everyone was completely full. They found the nearest to be in Klamath Falls, about twenty miles away. So off I went. By this time, it was about 6:30.  About seven or so miles later, remember I was only going about twenty or so miles per hour because of the road conditions, I heard and felt another loud noise and the car came to almost a complete stop on its own. I stopped it completely and wandered out to see what was going on. By then, it had been dark for several hours and it was quite a bit colder. Upon investigation, I found the problem. The tire cable on the front passenger side had snapped and wound itself around the axle. I wasn’t going any place. The car was just not going to go any place. I tried to call auto club but for about a half hour I couldn’t get a signal.

Finally, I was able to get a weak signal and I called auto club. The problem was then that I couldn’t tell them where I was because I didn’t know the area and the snow banks were so high that I could not see any signs. I could only tell them the road I was on and where I had come from and where I was headed, oh and that I had passed the casino. That gave them enough info to come try to find me, after the tow driver finished another job. By this time, the battery on the cell phone was almost dead but I wanted to talk to my kids. I had the feeling that I was going to end up lost like that family I had heard about just before I left my motel room in Ashland that morning, which seemed like days, not hours. I called one daughter and couldn’t reach her. My son didn’t answer either. I did manage to get in touch with my oldest daughter and, trying not to alarm her, gave her a short recap of what was going on. I hung up to preserve the phone battery in case I had to call auto club again. I still had not eaten all day and it was close to 8. I had a banana in the car and a can of Diet Coke. Both were frozen solid so that was no help.

Eventually, I got a call from auto club saying that the tow driver couldn’t find me. They patched the call through to the driver who was a local and I was able to repeat where I had been and where I was headed and the road. He thought he knew where I was. Yay! Finally, he found me! He ended up having to tow me into Klamath Falls and leave me and the car there. He had more cars to go rescue. He said he’d be back at 8 the next morning to take me and the car to Ashland.

Finally safe, I fell apart in my room. I put the thermostat on full blast and although the room warmed right up, I could not warm up. I was freezing from the inside out. It had been -3 degrees out there and my hoodie and cheapo boots couldn’t cut it. I called room service and had them bring me food and coffee. They were no longer doing room service and wanted me to come to the restaurant but I just didn’t have the energy to calm myself, stop shaking, and go to get my food. So they made an exception and brought me my food and a whole, big, pot of coffee.

All along, while I was out in the elements, I found it ironic that I had finally gotten myself out of my depression and made moves to improve my health and here I could die out there. It had been a long day of trying not to think of the worst but still having it just at the back of my mind. And at times, I was sure I was going to die. I also found out that the road I had taken off of the main highway was a seasonal road. It is only used in the summer months. That’s why I never met up with another car the whole time I was out there.

I was so shaken up that instead of driving back to Santa Rosa the next day, I wasn’t able to shake the feeling and I ended up staying until Saturday morning, four days later than I had planned. I didn’t leave my motel room in all that time, in fact, I didn’t get out of bed except to take warming showers several times a day.The woman who owned the hotel had become sort of a friend because I had stayed there a number of times. She kept checking on me and brought me food and warm beverages. In fact, they charged me a very reduced rate for those extra days.

That was my first exposure to driving in the snow. I think that probably tells you why, when it snows, I don’t even think of leaving the house.

We’re still very icy here. Wednesday’s snow has not melted because we haven’t gotten any higer than 31 degrees. In fact, we are supposed to break a record in the overnight hours (I’m writing this at almost 1 in the morning on Saturday)…to about 17 degrees. Saturday afternoon, more snow! I’m not going out in it. Not a chance.

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Blogging From A to Z

In 1999, my three kids and I went on one of our last road trips together. That summer we drove from Los Angeles to Vancouver, British Columbia. This trip was a little easier for me because my son had just begun driving and was able to help me with that, as well as with distracting and occupying his younger sisters.

On our way north, we drove first to San Jose and stayed with my sister for a couple of days before heading to Canada. When we got started, we drove along U.S. 101 from San Francisco across the Oregon border just north of Crescent City then headed east to Interstate 5 which we would take the rest of the way into Canada. When we got near Medford, Oregon on Interstate 5, we began to see signs for an attraction called Wildlife Safari. According to the billboards, it wasn’t too far away. We hadn’t heard of it previously but the signs promised a drive-thru experience with wildlife and a zoo, as well as a gift shop and cafeteria. We decided we would keep driving until we got to the turn off for Wildlife Safari instead of stopping for a rest in Medford.

When we arrived we learned that we would drive through the gated and fenced in grounds in our own car. We would be able to drive through at our leisure and were allowed to open windows in the car, except in the bear and lion dens where our windows had to be rolled up. We didn’t know what to expect but my kids, all three of them, have always loved wildlife and were excited to go through. So we did.



We were not disappointed in the least. The park was everything it had promised and so much more. The animals came up to the car windows in many cases and in some cases, we actually had to stop the car and wait for the wildlife to get out of our way. We saw girafffes, zebras, camels, yaks, bison, emus, and a variety of different deer, sheep, and goats. We saw monkeys, black bears, brown bears, tigers, lions, leopards, and just about any kind of animal you might expect to see on safari. The animals are grouped in “continent” manor so that you would see the same animals grouped together that you would actually see in proximity to one another in the wild. The kids were mesmerized. Because we were able to move at our own pace (under ten miles per hour) we were able to take a lot of pictures. The kids were able to take off their seat belts and change places to get a better view any time they wanted to.


When we finished the drive and got out of the car to head to the mini zoo and gift shop, the kids were so enthusiastic that they wanted to go again. However, we didn’t have time because the park was about to close and we had already lost three hours of driving time. We were determined to make it to Portland that evening. The whole rest of the trip, over a week’s time, the kids kept talking about Wildlife Safari and asked if we could go through again on the way home. We agreed that if everyone cooperated in getting up and leaving Vancouver on time, we should be able to arrive at Wildlife Safari just before the last drive through of the day. So now we had a goal to shoot for.

We did it! Everyone cooperated. We were able to leave Vancouver by 8 am and we arrived in Winston, Oregon at the gates of Wildlife Safari in time to drive through. This time they each had a brand new disposable camera to take pictures with as we drove into the park. Once again, they were just as mesmerized the second time as they had been the first time. This time we saw different animals; a lot of the same animals were out but we did see some that we had missed the first time through.

Since 1999, Wildlife Safari has become a favorite stop between San Jose and Portland. In fact, there have been several times when we drove from the San Francisco bay area to Wildlife Safari and back to California – a special trip to a special place. If I count back, I believe I have been to Wildlife Safari at least fourteen times! It has changed a lot since the first time we were there but it is still the same place with a lot of the same operating procedures. Some things have gotten better and some things have gotten commercial (for example, they now have “encounters” where you can get up close and personal with some of the animals for an extra fee) but it is still a wonderful experience! And now my grandchildren are enjoying it, too.

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I’m trying to limit my use of the heater this winter.  In fact, I’m determined not to turn it on until the end of November, if at all possible.  At least I won’t turn it on if I’m the only one in the house.

The other night, the temperature dropped outdoors and when I went to look at the thermostat, it was only 48 degrees inside the house and the heater was off.  So I lowered the thermostat to 54 and turned it on for about a half hour then turned it off again.  It worked.  I didn’t freeze.  I put on sock then my warm slippers and an extra layer of clothing and moved around.  I got some housework done and kept warm.  However, it became clear to me that I am not going to make it if I don’t do something about keeping warm in the evenings.  My blankets, warm pjs, and coats are still in storage in California and I don’t think I’ll be making another trip down there for a few months.  I decided to make a trip to Ikea for one of their warm quilts and quilt covers then on the way back I stopped at  Target for some flannel sheets.  Today I’m hitting the stores for themal underwear and warm socks and hopefully some flannel pjs.  I think I’ll start with thrift shops because the stores don’t seem to have them in stock yet.  I suppose I should keep an eye out for a warm coat.  I have been wearing only my sweat shirts but it’s pretty clear that they won’t keep me warm or dry for long.

What a difference the flannel sheets made and the small quilt I got did the trick for me.  It doesn’t have to cover the entire bed, just me!  So if all else fails, I can stay in bed to keep warm!  Good excuse, huh?!

In any case, I think I will survive my first winter up here after all!

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