In light of recent dreadful events in the news, I am going to tell you the story of my trip from hell (not really hell in the traditional bad sense, just weird). Let’s face it we could all use a laugh! This vacation took place a while ago so some of the specific details are hazy but I’m pretty sure I remember the important parts. The names in the story are made up in order to protect the innocent; ok actually I’m just too lazy to contact everyone to see if it would be alright to include their names in this story. J
Back when we were all 20, Mike and Steve decided to move to Bend Oregon in order to work in the resort town of Sunriver. They both got typical 20 something jobs and were enjoying the experience! As August rolled around, my buddy Jason and I decided to go see them and then head over to Mt. Hood for some summer skiing.
I don’t remember for sure, but I think the plan was to leave early (early meaning 12/1pm of course) Friday and come back on a Monday. We thought the drive would take about 5 hours or so, or so we thought…
For some reason, we got off to a late start. It was something like 4 or 5 before we left Boise. No big deal, the joys of being 20 are that time is more of a suggestion and not really something that 20somethings worry about. Plus, Mike’s parents were in Bend so that gave him more time to be with them instead of his stupid friends (that would be us). The one drawback was that we were planning on sleeping on Mike and Steve’s apartment floor with sleeping bags so our late arrival would mean that at least one of them would have to wait on us since we didn’t have a key-just to let everyone know that we are not jerks, we did call Mike and Steve to tell them we were running late.
The plan was to stop in Burns Oregon to eat dinner and fill up the car. We were taking Jason’s Blazer which didn’t get the best gas mileage so trying to get to Bend on one tank was out of the question. For those of you that don’t know, there is nothing between Burns and Bend Oregon except sagebrush; it’s basically a flat desert.
Up until we got to Burns, the trip was going pretty much as planned. We did hit more traffic than expected leaving Boise which slowed us down some but not enough to make it a big deal. Once in Burns, we found a local McDonalds and ate. At the time, we were all Copenhagen fans (don’t judge!) so after dinner we hit the local Wall-Mart for supplies and left. Notice that I never say we also filled up, important detail.
Full from dinner and packed with supplies, Jason and I set off for Bend with what amounted to a quarter of a tank left of gas. This wasn’t even going to come close to getting us there! Sure enough, somewhere in the middle of the Oregon desert the gas light pops on. Luckily for us there was a rest stop up a head where we could at least stop the car and try to beg for gas from truckers.
I should mention at this time that we were both wearing t-shirts and shorts. That becomes important because as we all know it can get pretty chilly at night in the desert, especially when a cold front is moving through the area.
Turns out truckers and others at rest stops are friendly but none of them carried any extra gas, none of them! We were even offering up some decent money and no takers. After about an hour or so of begging one trucker told us that there was an Oregon Highway District Office about a mile up the road and chances are they would have gas available for sale.
So we took off for the highway district office. At this point we were looking for non-essential items to start throwing out the window in order to lighten the load in the hopes of conserving gas. Our best guess was that we only had a couple of more miles left then we were going to be burning fumes. The office was exactly where the trucker at told us, luckily.
At this point it’s about 8pm and starting to get dark when we pulled into the parking lot of the office. When we got out of the car we noticed that there was an office and house both on the property. We tried the office first but no one was there. So we went over to the house and tried that door. I’m not sure what you call it but you know how some doors have what looks like a little door instead of a peep hold, this door had that. The guy that answered it used the little door to see who was there, for reasons we still don’t know he also had a rifle with him. Needless to say we were spooked! He told us that the office was closed and to go away. We basically had to shout our case at him because he won’t open the door for us. After finally being convinced that we were a couple of 20 something punks and not there to rob him, he did finally open the door to talk to us face to face. Turns out Oregon law prevented him from giving or selling (we were offering to pay double to triple the price) gas to us. However, he told us that there was a little mom and pop restaurant about 2 miles down the road which had a gas pump. Off we went with our fingers crossed that we got there before the gas fumes ran out.
As a society we use the term “mom and pop” pretty frequently I would say. This restaurant/gas station was truly deserving of that title however! There were probably 3 generations of family members sitting at the bar drinking away when we went in to pay. Not only that, we were sure that they were all inbred too. Almost all of them had missing teeth, their understanding of the English language was slow to put it kindly, and they had almost no math skills (I had to tell them how much change to give me back because the register was broken). O.K. inbred might be judgmental on our part, but they sure looked it based on how the T.V. portrays such families!
The good news was we were back on the road heading for Bend. Baring anymore setbacks we were hoping to arrive in town around 11pm instead of 9/10pm like we had originally hoped.
Stay tuned sports fans, this story gets better! No more T.V. inbred families, but I have a tow truck driver that scores a lot, a strange family that tried to get me to marry one of their daughters, met the mayor of a small town in Washington while he was wearing his pajamas, and a car repair shop that went to the Beavis and Butthead school of automotive repair. J
Miss me? Here is the rest of my story.
Once in Bend, we spent a couple of days doing typical stuff, i.e. drinking since Jason had a fake ID. We did go to Sunriver and looked around; highly recommend visiting Sunriver Oregon if you get a chance. The one notable event that happened was we stumbled upon this TV channel that was holding a swimsuit contest in what looked like some random guys basement, it was odd! Both Steve and Mike and never seen this channel before and had no idea when it came on the air. For those of you that remember the show Friends, it was pretty similar to when Joey and Chandler found free porn on their TV. It was one of those situations where it was so bad that you can’t turn it off because you want to know if it can get worse, it did!
The original plan was for Jason and me to leave Mike and Steve’s apartment early in order to drive to Mt. Hood (which was about 2 hours away) then come back to Boise afterwards. For whatever reason, we started the day out about 2 hours later than planned. Steve had asked us to bring his ski equipment, important detail to remember for later, back to Boise and store it so he didn’t have to pack as much when he moved back later that month.
After being on the road for about an hour, we discovered that we had missed a critical turn and was now about 30/40 minutes heading in the wrong direction. All things considered, not a big issue since our original directions came from the gas station attendant in Bend.
At the time, all 4 of us were certified ski instructors at Bogus Basin (our local resort in Boise, Idaho). One of the benefits of being certified was that ski schools around the country would offer discounted or free lift tickets to visiting instructors. I have beach front property in Ohio if you think we weren’t going to take advantage of that deal!! They generously gave us half off vouchers only because it was August and they couldn’t come ski at Bogus otherwise we would have skied for free that day.
Let me tell you, skiing in August rules. Skiing in August on the glacier at Mt. Hood is even better than rules!! Turns out they put some kind of salt solution in the snow in order to prevent it from melting in the warmer August temperatures; I did not know that at the time. This salt solution makes the snow feel more like powder skiing despite being on groomed runs. The U.S. Ski Team was there training too which was interesting to watch (we ducked their ropes a couple of times to ski their mogul runs that they had created). It was a great day to be skiing!
After skiing, we went to Government Camp to get some food then head home. For the first time during that trip, Jason’s fake ID did not work. I think that was mainly because I didn’t have one at the time so the waitress was somewhat suspicious of that. Not a big deal! We were both starving so getting us good food fast was more important to us than beer. As far as I remember, they were successful at that!
So far during the trip Jason had drove the whole time, makes sense since it was his car after all. He needed a nap so I said I would drive for a while. Well, that’s were our trip takes a turn for the worse!
About 15 minutes after I took over driving responsibilities, Jason’s car went dead. There was no weird sound, smoke, or any other “normal” symptom of a car in trouble, it just died. Normally, that’s not that big of a deal, I’ve experienced my car going dead before. The trouble was that we were traveling on the interstate at the time and there were multiple semis around us. I was going to have to navigate through them in order to get to the side of the road.
Despite only having gravity as our main power source, I was able to find a small opening between trucks that I drove through in order to get to the side of the interstate. Once out of the car, we discovered that there was an oil trail marking our tracks. The Blazer also started to steam once we stopped too. At that point we knew we were in trouble.
After about an hour, someone finally stopped to see if we were all right. It was a nice couple who was on their way to Boise actually because their daughter was going to school there. After trying a few basic mechanical type things, it was determined that the car needed professional help. The couple offered to drive me to the next town that was about an hour away so I could call for help. Since no other option was presenting itself, I jumped in to their car and we were off.
About 20 minutes into the drive, the couple started to dig into my personal life. As soon as I told them I was single they immediately broke out the family photo album and wanted to know which daughter I found most attractive. They wanted to set me up with one of them because they thought it was about time their daughters were married. Not being attracted to either of them though, I randomly choose one. Turns out I choose the one without a boyfriend which made their day. Luckily they never asked me for my contact information otherwise I would have had to jump out of the car and walk the rest of the way.
Luckily, we made it to the town (I don’t remember the name sorry, it was a very small town!) without me getting set up for an arranged marriage. They ended up dropping me off at the local dinner and drove off never to be heard from again. You have no idea how relieved I was to be out of that situation. Now free, I got directions from the dinner to the local police station, things were looking up…or so I thought.
At the police station, I discovered they had one of those “will return by” clocks on their front door; they weren’t due back for another 5 hours. Not good! So with no other option I went and got a can of Copenhagen and a Mountain Dew from the local gas station and just sat on their sidewalk (I had explained my situation to the cashier and he was fine with me doing that). I will say that the people of that town were friendly; a lot of them stopped and talked to me, which helped, pass the time. Unfortunately, no one knew a tow truck driver or anyone in law enforcement that could help.
Turns out Jason had better luck than me in finding help. A member of Oregon’s State Police had stopped to help and had arranged a for a tow truck to pick up Jason then me. I did not know this until I saw the car on the back of the truck pull into town. This story happened before cell phones were a commonplace, kind of dating myself here.
The driver was a nice guy, just odd. He looked like a typical tow truck driver, beer gut, stunk, dirty cab, etc. According to him, the best Chevy repair shop was in a small town called Goldendale Washington. So we set off for Goldendale, which was about an hour away.
While traveling to Goldendale, 2 odd things happened. First, some girls passed us and supposedly flashed our driver. We did not see this so that is why I say “supposedly”. The odd/creepy part was that the driver claimed that he was quite the chick magnet; apparently the ladies can resist tow truck drivers (he put that in a vulgar way, I cleaned it up for you kids). Second, we got a call from the Oregon State Police stating that a U-Haul had jumped the center divider and they wanted us to drive up ahead and block the on ramp while they cleaned up the mess. I promise, everything I have said so far is 100% true-I have not made up anything!
Once getting the all-clear sign from Oregon Police, we got back on the interstate and headed for Goldendale. At this point is was about 8 pm which meant that we probably wouldn’t get to town until 10pm since we helped the police. The driver knew the best place to stay there and was sure there would be a room available. We didn’t care at this point; all we wanted was to be out of that damn tow truck!
To this day I am still not sure how the Mayor of Goldendale found out about us but he and the owner of the Chevy repair shop were waiting for us at the hotel in their PJ’s. Yes, they were in their pajamas! The owner instructed the driver to take the car to his shop that was about 12 blocks away from the hotel (we unloaded all our ski equipment and luggage before they took the Blazer away and put it in our room). Mr. Mayor gave us a nice welcome to town speech and said we could call him if we needed anything. Friendly people, but the whole situation was just bizarre.
There ended up being a combination fast food/gas station/grocery store a couple of blocks away from were we were staying. This time Jason’s ID worked, we got dinner and a lot of beer! Back at the hotel we found a Married With Children marathon running on the TV and created some drinking game to that show. All I remember was there were beer cans everywhere the next morning!
The Chevy shop told us that the car would be ready at noon the next day. At 10:30am I called the front desk and asked if we could check out at noon instead of 11, which was their policy. The person I talked to said that would not be a problem. About 10:45am a different person called us back and said no, we had to be out at 11. So we frantically got all our equipment together and went to the front desk to pay. To our surprise, the manager said he would allow us to leave all our equipment in the hotels storage room (after putting about half in the storage room, the manager told us to start walking to the repair shop and he would put the rest of the stuff in the room-we had about $5,000 work of ski equipment and other stuff).
While walking, a group of 16/17-year-old girls passed us and started honking and waving. This becomes important later in the story. We made jokes about how they probably thought we were aliens since we were both well over 6 feet tall. Just to answer everyone’s next question, we made no effort to talk to or associate with these girls. Getting the Blazer and getting the hell out of town was the only thing on our minds at this point.
Once at the shop, we discovered that they hadn’t even looked at the car. Their best guess was that it would be late that afternoon before they would be able to get to it. Needless to say, we were extremely angry at this point. We ended up going into the owner’s office and started to call everyone we could think of at that point. The shops long distance bill was going to be large, that was our way of seeking revenge.
The plan was going to be hang out in town until about 4pm then head back to the shop. We were hoping that the car could be fixed easily so we could head home that night. So with nothing else to do, we set out to explore the town and find some eats.
While walking around, we noticed every shop had a name like Harry Dick’s Stereo or Mike Hawk’s tattoo parlor. Maybe it was because we were only 20 and immature, but every store had some kind of alternate sexual meaning. That kept us entertained for a while. We found a dinner (with a normal name) that served lunch, which gave us a break from walking. There was also a pool hall/bowling alley that provided us with entertainment after lunch. Those girls were still following us around, luckily none of them were brave enough to talk to us otherwise we would have probably been kicked out of town (in no mood to be playing games).
After seeing everything Goldendale had to offer, we headed back to the repair shop with our fingers crossed. They had just started looking at the car and that was only because someone had found an owners manual. These “mechanics” had no idea how to work on a Chevy Blazer. At this point we decided to arrange for a flat bed to pick up the car in the morning and take it back to Boise. Jason’s mom had agreed to drive up to Goldendale Washington to pick us up in the morning too. That meant another night in small town Washington.
Since all our stuff was back at the hotel, we decided to try and get the same room we had the night before (the room was on the second floor). The front desk attendant told us that the staircase leading to that room was not safe and no one was supposed to stay on the second floor. No idea why someone didn’t tell us that the day before. Also, remember how I said that the manager would put the rest of our equipment into the storage room while we checked on the car? Turns out he hadn’t. Luckily no one stole anything despite our equipment being out all day long.
The good news was that the attendant opened the storage room for us and left. I say good news because it turns out a lot of people leave beer and other items in their rooms after they check out. Being grumpy, we decided to help ourselves to the free beer, liquor, and toiletries (Jason was heading to Pocatello Idaho the next weekend for school so free toiletries was a nice jackpot). There was going to be some serious drinking that night, but first we needed to eat.
While walking around trying to find dinner, we meant a girl named Angela who was also 20. She drove us to some other small town to eat and told us all about Goldendale. Angela was already an outcast because she wasn’t married and had no kids (she was going to Portland for college soon, like us, she wanted out of Goldendale). Apparently getting married at 17/18 was pretty common; usually these marriages were a result of high school pregnancy. She also told us that the group of young girls that was following us around town were telling everyone they could that they thought they had found 2 new potential husbands. They were wrong!!!
We ended up inviting Angela back to our room for free beer but she had to go. Once again we found a Married With Children marathon playing on TV so we started up our drinking game again without her. I would like to take this time to thank all those that had left beer in their rooms before we got there, nothing better than free beer when you are 20!
Jason’s mom was planning on being in Goldendale at 11am to pick us up so we didn’t have to pay for another night. This time we got up early and wandered over to the dinner we had ate lunch at the previous day for breakfast. A couple of old ladies came over to our table and told us that we should stay in town because we looked like excellent marriage material-still not making any of this up! It was time to leave.
After breakfast we went to the shop to make sure the Blazer got off all right. The flat bed had already showed up and was on the road by the time we got there. Finally, a piece of good news regarding the car. Back at the hotel, Jason’s mom picked us up before the 11am check out time. We were leaving this town! Our trip was finally over 🙂
Like I said in the beginning, this story was just about providing you with a smile! I will get back to more arthritis specific posts shortly but considering everything that has happened recently, I thought it would be nice for a change of pace. Hopefully you enjoyed this adventure of mine!!!
P.S. A friend of mine is trying to raise money for Juvenile Arthritis research and a cure with Team Taylor! Please check out Joanne’s fundraising page and donate some $$$$$$. Even $5 or $10 bucks helps, just please donate and share this page with your friends! THANK YOU!!!