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Drive Me Crazy

As long as Liz brought up trips, I thought I’d mention that I just returned from a trip to Spokane. As far as I’m concerned, this picture sums up the experience of driving in the Pacific Northwest. Rain on the windshield, a car in my way and a car on my butt. The only thing that varies as you travel across Oregon and Washington is the number of cars on your butt or in your way and the amount of rain.

We figured out early on that my husband and city driving were not compatible. This was a man who complained about the traffic on Sixth Avenue in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Imagine his joy the first time we hit Portland in the middle of rush hour. I was surprised no one flagged us down and offered a fire extinguisher to squelch the flames shooting from his skull. My attempts to offer advice were met with limited enthusiasm.

After the second trip, we decided that in the interests of remaining married, we either needed to stop entering rodeos in the Willamette Valley or change drivers.

Thus began the routine we would employ for the rest of our ten year stint as Oregonians. My husband drove the first hundred miles, along the Columbia River. He then pulled into the Memaloose rest area, approximately halfway between The Dalles (that’s a town, in case you’re wondering) and Hood River. That’s where I took over. My husband would climb into the passenger’s seat, kick off his boots, and close his eyes. He was usually asleep before I merged back onto the Interstate.

As you drive west from this point, the ratio of stupid rises exponentially.

I’d like to blame the windsurfers, but someone whose most important task of the day is locating the stiffest breeze in the Columbia Gorge is generally not in a big rush. They were pretty harmless in their little peddle cars with the pod-like gear carriers bolted to the top. It was the rest of the idiots who tried, on multiple occasions, to turn us into a story on the five o’clock news.

There is a large fraction of the driving public for whom the sight of a horse trailer equals ‘slow moving vehicle’. Even when the vehicle in question is trying to get from the Sunday morning rodeo slack in Goldendale, Washington to the afternoon performance in Weippe, Idaho, which any moron knows isn’t possible in anything less than a Lear Jet, which we were doing a fair imitation of at the time. Still, someone in a Honda would have to pass us. Then they would look at their speedometer, say “Oh, dear Lord I’m going eighty-five!” and slow down, forcing me to ram them off the road.

Or so I imagined, with considerable relish.

Most of the time, I stayed pretty cool. I made up my mind not to even try to hurry through the metro areas. Lay back, give everybody room, no worries. Except that one time.

It started with the imbecile who rolled his camper trailer down I-84 in the Gorge, leaving a half mile field of debris, none of which was bigger than a sleeping bag. And a line of stalled traffic several miles long. I felt sorry for him, until I saw him standing beside his short box, half ton, no-one-with-an-operational-brain-cell-would-ever-hitch-this-to-a-thirty-foot-trailer pickup.

Deep breath. Still plenty of time to get to the rodeo despite the delay. No worries.

We were far enough behind schedule that we now hit the east side of Portland as afternoon traffic began to build. Cars ducked from behind my horse trailer as I attempted to change lanes, whipped into the miniscule space in front of me. My normal tolerance, worn thin by camper boy, was nearly transparent by the time we reached the I-84/205 interchange. Which was when a woman in a gold BMW zipped across two lanes of traffic to make the northbound lane, cutting me off and forcing me to slam on the brakes.

Slamming on the brakes while the horses attempt to remain upright makes me cranky. You can imagine how much they like it. For the first time in my life, I made a rude gesture at a fellow driver. It was not the last.

Unknown to us, zombies had launched a massive attack in Portland overnight, and they had a hankering for commuter brains. Ten miles down the road, I was developing tendinitis in my middle digits. When the guy in the Crown Vic clipped my front bumper making a last second dive for the Estecada exit, I started inventing new swear words. My husband gave a heavy sigh, tipped his seat into the upright position, and reached for his boots.

“What are you doing?” I asked, between curses.

“We are obviously going to crash before we get out of here,” he said. “And when we crash, I do not want to be running around in my socks, trying to stop you from beating someone to death with a tire iron.”

Now that’s a man worth hauling down the road.

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10 Responses

  1. Damn Zombies!

    LOL SOOO funny.

  2. OMG! Too funny! and I feel your pain. I hate traffic too.

  3. Love it. Yes, I can see you trying to beat someone to death with a tire iron. Good man you have there.

  4. Too funny! And nice to have husband who knows you so well. 😉

  5. I needed that laugh this morning!! Good man!! He’s definitely a keeper..

  6. Portland drivers are a bunch of pansies. Wait’ll you drive to a rodeo in Connecticut.

  7. Or Italy!

  8. I have driven a Winnebago pulling a four horse trailer amongst Canadians. I fear no one.

  9. Too funny!! Houston traffic is horrible too! I stay on the feeder roads unless I have no other choice. LOL

  10. Funny stuff, Kari!

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