Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas Break, Part V: Home Again, Home Again

In Part I, I made it safely to my dad's house, though with the Check Engine light glowing at me during the latter half of the drive.

In Part II, my sister, the kiddo, and I got to watch my brother tell pilots what to do.

In Part III, we had Christmas with my dad, brother, and sister, then a quick visit at my sister's house when I dropped her off.

In Part IV, I went to my mom's house and hung out for a few days.

I had originally planned to go home Saturday, but when that was the only day my sister could make it to my mom's, and the only time my step-sister would be able to play some board games, plus since my departure had been delayed a day, so I was still leaving the cats home alone the same amount of time as originally planned, I decided to go ahead and not leave until Sunday.

When I first checked the roads, they were icy in spots, so I wasn't in a big hurry to leave, hoping the sun and traffic would melt it some more before I got there.  We had a nice breakfast, then loaded up the car and set out on our journey.

I noticed as I was driving toward Umatilla (about an hour away, and where I stopped to get gas--this Oregon girl prefers filling up in Oregon--someone else handles the pump!) that my gas light came back on.  But it was still on steadily, not blinking, so I kept going.  Got gas, and hit the road again.

I often stop in Biggs to use the restroom and get something to eat, but first, I headed over the bridge to the Washington side.  We'd seen the Stonehenge War Memorial from across the river, and though I know I've taken Nathan there before, he didn't remember it, so we stopped.  We found a geocache and took a few photos.

After that nice break, we also stopped at Biggs, used the restroom, had a sit-down meal in the truck stop restaurant (rather than just grabbing snacks for the road, in case I needed both hands to drive on the ice), and found another geocache.  We looked for yet another one, but didn't find it this time.  We'll save it for later.  :-)  Here's the view from where we were looking for it, though.

Finally, it was time to quit procrastinating and hit the road.  The timing would have put me to Madras, if not home, by dark, so it was the prime time to hit the icy spots (Shaniko and north) when they'd had the maximum amount of sunlight (though the temps were still below freezing, so it wouldn't do a WHOLE lot of good).  The roads were clear through about Kent, but then there were patches, and finally in Shaniko, the entire ice was covered with packed snow that had been buffed to nice shiny ice.  I took it easy, though, and made it safely to Shaniko, where I was hoping there would be some cool ghost-town-like geocaches, but alas, the only one right IN town is just along the side of the road, and was buried in snow to boot.  We proceeded to the rest area just south of the junction of 97 and 197, used the restroom, and saw that the only geocache there was off the pavement, apparently on a trail, and would therefore be hard to find in winter.  Seems geocaching isn't really a winter "sport."

So we once again hit the road, and though the descent into the canyon didn't seem icy to me (in the lane of travel, anyway--it was icy between lanes), there was a pickup truck in front of me taking it slowly.  By riding the brakes.  Dummy.  Whatever.  I may get impatient sometimes, but I try my best not to think poorly of people who go more slowly than me in winter conditions--some people aren't used to driving in the snow, and I believe that EVERYONE should go the speed they're comfortable with, and those who want to go faster should just be patient and pass when safe.  However, I do think people who hit the brakes when they're afraid it's icy are dummies.

The sun went down before we got to Madras, so it was pretty much dark by the time we got there, but the roads were also just fine, so it worked out well.

We got home with the trip having put 994.6 miles on my car, most of which were after the check engine light first came on.  However, it still seems to be working okay, and I'll call my mechanic tomorrow.  Just hope I can afford whatever it needs to have done to it!

When we walked in the door, Sera, the cat who had the run of the majority of the house, meowed and meowed at us.  We'd given them some wet food right when we left, but of course they'd only had dry food for the last six+ days.  We petted her for a second, then went to my bedroom, where poor Cookie had been confined (she picks on Sera to the point that Sera was going bald from the stress).  She did her usual--CHEWING me out for abandoning her, but also not able to stop purring while being petted and fussed over.  Nathan fed both the girls, and I kept petting Cookie, and noticed not only did she seem fatter (probably a good thing--she seemed a little skinny to me before), but she also seemed a LOT fluffier--turns out when it's that cold outside, and we're not home with our electronics running, cooking meals, and running the fireplace, the house must get a lot colder than it does when we're home, and the poor girl grew herself a winter coat.  She's been sleeping VERY snuggled with me the past couple nights, too...she really missed me.  

We had a very nice trip, saw all of my immediate family and a little bit of extended family, and had a nice Christmas.  Thanks to everyone who hosted us and fed us, and hope to see you again soon!

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