Judy and I get away a few times a year to kind of recharge our batteries. Most of the time, that trip is to the Oregon Coast. In January, a motel that we know has especially good deals so we try and get away as early as we can to kind of start of the year right.
Thus, we took off Sunday for our yearly Mid Winter Coast trip. I had hoped to get off early with the pass looking a little slippery but lingered too much at work and we got away around noon. We had little trouble getting over the top of the Santiam and as I started down the other side, I was called by an old friend, Tom Moore, who now lives in Denver and we are hoping will be able to link up with Casey pretty soon. I was keeping my eyes on the road and enjoying the conversation with Tom when we came up behind a gravel truck that slowed us all down. I thought about passing it up but thought better as I was not sure how slippery the road really was. Tom's call went out of range and Judy thanked me openly for not trying to pass the gravel truck. I recall a Jeep flying by just minutes before the gravel truck swung into a turn out. I figured that it must be out of gravel and was returning to its base. The line of four or five cars with me at the end passed up the truck and kept heading down the hill.
Then it gets a little sketchy as many remembrances do after a stressful situation. I know that I had backed off the cars in front of me a little thinking that I might be to close for the road. Judy yelled and hit my arm and I braked. Now, I have lived in this type of climate pretty much all my life and a winter stop to me is not a slam on the brakes. I slowed very quickly while watching the cars in front of me swing back and forth bumping off of each other like pinballs. I stopped just short and to the left a little of the mass of collisions. Quickly assessing the situation, I could see a wreck up ahead and looking into my rear view mirror, no cars behind me and a turn close by. I felt like a sitting duck. I quickly drove around the small pile up in front of me and took a clearing just in front of them. They already were a part of this and I wanted no part. I got out of the car and almost fell on the slick road. I noticed the Jeep that had passed earlier on the other side of the road just behind what looked like the main part of the wreck. I could see three semis with the middle one clearly nose into the embankment. The third behind it was trying to back up and instead was only slipping sideways. The road was soundly blocked. I tried calling 911 but was out of range. Minutes later, however, a State trouper of who I remember sitting on the side of the road earlier came by us all with his lights on.
I turned to Judy and told her that we needed to go back and take the middle road to the valley. The temperature was in the 20's and my gas gauge read a half. I felt that we would be there for hours waiting for tow trucks to ferret out the mess. I began backing up and turning and then realized just how slick the road was as my car even with the studs seemed to just want to spin. I figured that I had plenty of people to help push me out so I kept working on the turn until I got the car turned and managed to work it back up the hill and the other direction. The line seemed to go forever and others seeing me decided the same and were soon joining me in my reversed direction. When I got back into cell range, I called Trin just so she would know what road we were on. While on the phone with her, I noticed another van closing rapidly behind me. I edged over as far as I could and let the panicked driver fly by me at speeds that must have been sixty or better. I, in turn, took my time from then on and arrived at the turn to the other road just as ODOT got there officially closing down the Salem road. We slowly drove over Tombstone Pass (after seeing what we had seen, Judy said that it was aptly named) both of us still working at calming after the stress of the previous road. I felt my left calf keep trying to cramp up and I wondered if it was from my body tensing up during the previous encounter. We both remained on edge until we were safely out of the slipperiness. We then preceded through Corvallis and on to Newport turning north on 101 and arriving in Lincoln City close to six hours after leaving Bend.
We spent much of our two days in the room, watching the waves, reading books, watching the tv, and sleeping. We did go out on the second day and took a day trip to Walport to check out the Salty Dawg Saloon. We were told that it was the same owner as the one in Homer, Alaska that Judy had seen visiting Casey this summer. We found that not to be the case. The owner did own a pub in Alaska but not the Salty Dawg. She had undoubtedly bought the name in Oregon, however and was trying to glean a little from the popularity of the Internationally renowned bar. On our way, we usually stop at the Pirate Coffee shop in Depot Bay. We know the owners and they are very nice people. They were closed on Tuesday and Wednesday so we looked for a coffee shop in Newport.
We pulled up to one along the bay and parked our car in front. I watched a small car drive up to the shop with lots of stickers on the back. The most prominent was an Obama sticker on the right and a Coexist sticker on the left. We walked in right behind the young hippy couple and got in line. Judy spied a small table up front where you could see the bay and went over to secure it. The hippy lady turned around and openly said, "Well, I guess we weren't fast enough to get OUR table.". I said nothing but did smile inside. I wanted to say something funny like "Hey, can't we all just coexist?" but I was sure by her demure that she would not understand my humor. We drank our coffee soaking in the bay atmosphere and we soon on our way.
The two days flew by far too fast and on the third, we headed back stopping for coffee at the Eye Scream Coffee shop that my friend Steve Miller suggested (very good coffee and a great owner) and in Aumsville at a friend's restaurant (Neufeldts) for lunch and arriving back home around three. I stopped by the diner around six to check on things and met a man and his family who had come in for the first time. He introduced himself as Mitch and said that he owned the Sisters Olive and Nut. He said that they were in town for supplies and had enjoyed his meal and would be back. I, in turn, said that when I was in Sisters, I would stop by his place.
I arrived back home, had a nice supper, watched a movie and the end of the Blazer game with Trin and off to bed. Recharged and ready for our next event. Next up, MOW, which stands for Middle Of the Winter. It is our annual Food, Blanket, and Clothing drive. We will be collecting all of these items and then distributing them through Salvation Army. I will began working on that first thing in the morning.