My trip from Oregon to California may have left me with post-traumatic stress disorder. Not the family part but the driving part. You may have read in my last post about how I was heading out into a superstorm a week ago with hurricane winds and rain coming down in waves. Go or stay? I debated, hesitated, stopped on the side of the road to ponder, and I went.
On the second day of the trip, I left Yreka, California at 9 a.m., anxious to get to San Jose as early as possible to beat at least some of the rush-hour traffic. It was raining buckets. The backsplash from the trucks blinded me, and the haze was so thick I never saw Mt. Shasta.
Around Red Bluff, the deluge eased up and I streaked south, cutting lunch short, making no unnecessary stops. Redding, Red Bluff, Corning, Maxwell, Willows, Winters, drive! I hit sunshine over Benicia. It came with scary traffic, but at 2:40, I was already in Dublin, only 45 minutes from Dad. That’s when it happened.
Lying in the middle lane of the 680 freeway was a bicycle. Driving 70 miles an hour, with other cars on both sides, I swerved some but couldn’t miss it. The bike tore a hole in my right front tire. The tire pressure light came on. I limped to the side of the road, struggling to control the car as I brought it to a stop in a V-shaped space between cars coming off the 580 freeway behind me and flying past on 680. The tire was flat. I activated the emergency blinkers. Dialed AAA with shaking hands. Called Dad to tell him I’d be late. Moved everything out of the back of the car where the spare tire lives to the front of the car and waited. Forty-five minutes later, a yellow tow truck pulled up. A smiling white-haired man put on the baby spare that’s not up to freeway driving and led me to American Tire in Dublin. I got in line. (Tires are big business!)
Three hours and $158 later, I entered stop-go traffic in the dark and crept from Dublin to San Jose on my shiny new tire. Still shaking. I arrived at 7:15 p.m.
You’d think that would be the end of the story, but no. The next day, Wednesday, we got into Dad’s Buick for our trip to my brother’s house in Cathey’s Valley, on the road to Yosemite, and Dad missed a turn. He decided he knew another way, and we wound up in the mountains driving two-lane roads that were all bumps and curves, with no destination in sight. The cows did not offer directions. I prayed we wouldn’t end up dead in a ravine. The battery on my cell phone was dead. No one would know where we were.
Eventually we made it to Raymond, a tiny settlement where we stopped at the bar and got directions down a road that didn’t even look like a road. Oh, how I wanted to order a beer and settle in with the locals while Dad was outside on the porch telling a cowboy about my brother the lawyer. His response was that they don’t need no stinkin’ lawyers. Somebody gets out of line, they just shoot him or string him up on an oak tree.
After another hour of non-road roads, we emerged on Highway 140 and made it to Cathey’s Valley, where the weather was wonderfully warm and the dogs greeted us in tail-wagging ecstasy. The kitchen, where my sister-in-law was deep into a baking marathon, smelled wonderful.
Thursday, we drove deeper into the gold country to Copperopolis for Thanksgiving dinner, and I’m happy to report no problems. And now, I’m halfway home and hopeful.
My Thanksgiving was wonderful. I hope yours was, too. I’m amazed at how quickly the Christmas lights went up. So, Merry Christmas. Watch out for flying bicycles. See you in Raymond.