A Song Cycle In Four Parts. Part Two
So we did it, baby. We got the sun and moon in our pocket, baby. We spanked it. And there we were on the far side of Madras planning to head south, away from Portland, well ahead of the crowds. Sure, everyone was leaving at once, but they’d be hours getting untangled, and we had the jump; and there might be a little slowdown here and there, all to be expected, but we were riding high. We’d practically teleported to Madras, we’d met a really nice old gentleman with two working toilets, we’d bagged the eclipse, and we were on our way to beautiful Crater Lake. Ten minutes after totality, at 10:30am, we were pottied up and on the road again with a cooler full of water and sandwiches and a spare can of hubris in the trunk.
And traffic was moving! Within five minutes we were driving the limit on I-97 with the theoretical wind in our hair, and trying to decide whether to go straight to our Airbnb cabin an hour past Crater Lake and come back to it the next day, or hit Crater Lake along the way. My passengers began pulling out their magic tiny phone boxes. “Webcams at Crater Lake show clear blue water,” came the happy consensus. “Two and a half hours to Crater Lake, or three and a half to the cabin, estimated time of arrival 1:55.”
I am not wieldy with the magic tiny phone boxes or the little talking geniuses that live therein, and I marveled at the twin wonders of nature and technology. Everyone was on a high, mostly natural, not that we hadn’t visited a Dispensary. Brake lights appeared briefly ahead, and then dissipated, trailing a vapor of distant shark music.
“There’s a bit of a slowdown coming up,” Linda reported a short time later, “but it clears up after Redmond. Estimated arrival time at the cabin now 2:20.” Not so bad! It only stands to reason it’s going to go a little slower with 100,000 people trying to leave all at once. Most of whom, one must assume, are going north. We can take a little delay in stride.
Then all the cars stopped altogether. I squinted while laboring at the arithmetic without a device. Eleven o’clock, still north of Redmond, current speed zero miles an hour, puts us at our destination by…carry the one…never.
Linda piped up again, after consulting the savant in her phone. “There’s a service road coming up that will take us right past this blockage,” she said. We found the road right away and were soon back on pace, paralleling the line of stopped cars at a smug 40mph. Until we smacked into the clog of other drivers using navigation apps, which appeared to be all of them. We slunk back to I-97 on a gravel road of shame. All the way to Redmond and then Bend the line of traffic lurched and sputtered, smooth as a ghost dragging a chain. Some stretches were sufficiently sludgy to allow us to walk around to the trunk and retrieve sandwiches. “Picks up again after Bend,” Linda’s lying sack of phone contended, “so we’re now estimated to arrive at 4:55.”
“That’s not so bad,” I said. “Let’s go straight to our bnb while it’s still light out and go to Crater Lake tomorrow.” It was so agreed. All phones in the car furthermore agreed that clear roads were just ahead of us and we were about to bust on through to freedom any minute, as soon as God could put a stent in.
As a matter of fact, however–we can see that now–we were in the moist center of an epic bolus of traffic that was pushing its way down the esophagus of I-97 with yards of intestines yet to navigate and hours to go before we reached the end. At which point, of course, we’d be pooped out.
“At least we’re moving,” I chirped, noting with approval the speedometer needle quivering near 4mph, and then we stopped completely.
Did I mention Oregon was on fire?
See, this is exactly why I don't go to "events" anymore. Whether it be natural "once in a lifetime" events, like the eclipse, or even a rock concert at a stadium. Trying to get in is bad, but at least people get there at different times; some early, some late. Being there is bad, with the press of humanity against you. But trying to leave… that is sheer Hell for me. Any sort of situation where I feel "trapped", where I can't leave by any means just freaks me out. It can be a traffic jam, or being at home with only a non-functioning car in the driveway. I have this mental thing where I always need a way out. Hell, maybe I was imprisoned in another life, if one believes in that sort of thing.
Look at it this way. If you were imprisoned in another life, you got sprung! Be not afraid!
Ha Ha, you should have all made arrangements for a sleepover at the place with the two toilets. Like mimimanderly, I hate being in any trapped kind of situation too.
At least I wasn't trapped in my little red car bean.
Dispensary? My favorite is Dean's Greens!
I've only been to two.
Yeah, we had family that left north Madras at 6 pm and took 6 hours to reach Bend. You have my profoundest sympathy. wonder how many folks ran out of gas in the jam?
I didn't see anyone stranded. I ALSO didn't see any National Guard troops!
As someone said before me, it sounds like "Part 3" is going to get a bit gruesome. That said, I await the appearance of Part 3 with bated breath.
….Maybe a Donner's Pass type situation? I'm all aquiver!
Now you've got me contemplating the tenderness of my fellow passengers. We're all on the juicy side.
I really don't like crowds. That sounds like a foretaste of hell to me.
Yeah, pretty sure Hell is crowded.
Is this a re-enactment of "The Oregon Trail"? Do you put all the cars in a circle as dusk falls?
I think I already mentioned that the Oregon Trail sounds unacceptably bleak to me. I'm pretty sure we could have put the cars in a circle and gotten just as far just as fast.
'Christ on a stick', as uncle Deke used to say. When I left bend it was under 10K. And when, pray tell, was Crater Lake anything but 'clear'?? I may never come back to the state except in a ash format. Then I can commiserate with my ancestors, in Laurel Hill Cemetery near Springfield, who have been firmly ensconced since 1875.
We're in the grip of forest fire smoke, visibility was around a half mile. I was pointing east, west and south, telling the g'kids 'there are mountains there, really.' They nodded doubtfully.
Crater Lake is still clear. Underneath the smoke. I like that: "in ash format." And I prefer my ancestors firmly ensconced. One thing about dead people: you want them to stay put.
I resent it when people call me "boring" just because I never do anything more than three people at any given time would think fun. I prefer to put it that "I have embraced the off-peak lifestyle."
Gol, you make me laugh.
"Trailing a vapor of distant shark music." Brilliant. Love it.
You know the music.
The plot thickens – and I do not lisp. As the old saying goes.
Highly entertaining account … but then I didn't have to live through it! Looking forward to Parts 3 and 4.
As someone might point out, it's still not the Oregon Trail.
Been there and done that. Those apps are used by more and more and as a result do not necessarily work. Sorry. Our recent Banff trip was full of traffic.
Several other suggestions for detours were offered up as the day drug on, and I ignored all of them.
Okay, we're agreed that the eclipse traffic basically broke googlemaps and all their clever workarounds. We ran into the same effect, getting back from Hamer, Idaho to SLC. Zipped up, crawled back. But even standing in line at the rest stop to pee, the consensus was, "This I will forget. That eclipse was awesome!" And for me the traffic was a small price for having our LA son with us to witness that black hole in the sky. So, there's that.
Next one for us New Englanders will be in northern VT/NH/ME in seven years. Maybe we should start scouting out a spot for a three week stay right about now?
I'm all over it! Man, Hodge, you went a long way for an eclipse.
This is a really good idea that you have going on. manufacturing