Evening: November 12, 1998
Evening: Wet, Dark Drive
There was no problem getting out of work on time, what with the hours we've been working. The trip home was in the rain, in pre-rush hour almost traffic, not too bad.
Fezzik ran around with us as we finished the last of the packing, double checked everything and started loading the range Rover with all the stuff I thought I might need. John had less than a third of the stuff I had. We packed everything into the car, and then added Fezzik, his food, and one of the giant bones from his birthday party. John did the intelligent thing and had introduced the bone to him the night before so he was very sure it was his.
I also did the job of watching all the dishes, so we wouldn't be coming home in four days to a really nasty mess.
John checked the oil in the Rover, loaded some extra tools, and made sure it'd get us home.
Driving to Cedar River was a bit messy. It was already dark and the rain was starting to fall, so the traffic was thickening. Fezzik went without a fuss, as usual, he stared at the closing metal mesh door with the same look he gets when we close the pen door on him in the morning. It's not an upset look but there is a bit of pensive sadness, knowledge of what the door closing and our petting him means. I think he really does know.
The drive south from there was insane. Since Cedar River closed at 6 we had to drop Fezzik off before then, so we hit 405 in the midst of rush hour traffic going south. As we were crossing the bridge over I-5, I saw that I-5 was completely stop and go traffic. It was a parking lot. So, just before we got to the I-5 exit I said, "Why don't we go eat Thai food at Bai Tong?"
So we did!
That was well worth it. The food was absolutely excellent and we only got a satay and a phad tai, so there were no leftovers to worry about. By the time we got out of the restaurant, the worst of the traffic had moved on. Except there was an accident just 10 miles north of Tacoma. We moved only by car lengths for a good hour.
Once we got past that, it was clear. It was good road trip road from there. It was raining so we'd never have seen anything anyway and as it was, it was magic. Blood red drops of ruby light floating ahead of us in pairs, some going further and further to blink out around a corner or over a hill where the night sky was the same color as the unlit pavement. The green, brown, and quite traffic signs reflected the headlights, light that was swallowed by looming black shadows of trees near the freeway. The land about us, when we could see the black contrasted with the deep gray of the sky was dotted with nestled clusters of lights, lonely glimpses of life in the dark countryside.
It's been since January since I've been able to sit in a car for very long. I hadn't realize how much I missed it. Missed the dance of cars on the freeway, and the hissing roar of wind and concrete rushing by the confines of the car.
As we went up one hill 40 miles north of Portland, the overdrive started to whine and then to scream. Bad, bad noises started happening, until John finally took it out of the overdrive. Then the noise went away, unhappily, after the grinding scream, there was something left, rattling loose in the gearage. Not good. It was, however, not something that was going to keep us from getting home.
We arrived just fine, moved in quickly, and the hotel had free appetizers, beer, and soft drinks in the evening as well as free breakfast in the morning. We took advantage of the food and a bit of TV and plenty of liquids to chase off the dryness from the ride. Our room was very nice and had a refrigerator, microwave oven and a VCR built into the TV cabinet. Very nice. It was also far less than the normal Con hotel, and just about as far from the Columbia River hotel as the sister Jantzen Beach hotel's further reaches, so I felt pretty good about the decision to take the cheaper hotel.
After getting in touch with various people that had already arrived, but were happily ensconced in their rooms, so John and I wandered off on foot to look at where everything was, including the grocery store. The walk to the other hotel is a fair distance, and in a lot of rain it could be nasty, but doable with the rain gear we had. The grocery store turned out to be just a block away from our hotel, so we stocked up on hot chocolate, pop, notebooks for writing, cookies and microwave popcorn before heading back to the room to enjoy our loot.
The hot chocolate was very comforting as I wrote and John watched T.V.. By the time I was done it was late and we were both exhausted from the drive. Sleep was uneasy in the strange room, but mostly dreamless.
Brought to you by Dragon System's Point & Speak.