Over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house I went:
ON A WEEKDAY. WITH NO CHILDREN
This special adventure provided me with several opportunities to learn important lessons. Today, I share just a few of the things I learned.
Lesson #1-Kids are crazy in before school breaks associated with holidays but so is everyone else. Teachers and parents may tell you that schools are like zoos during the last week school is in session during the calendar year BUT they say that because they haven’t experienced the interstate freeways. Bumper to bumper out of state traffic seems to move at a snails pace but with the frantic nature of dog that needs to go potty.
Lesson #2-Just because there are more drivers on Interstate 5, doesn’t mean that the other highways are as crowded BUT fewer drivers on the roads mid-week, doesn’t mean there are fewer law enforcement officials.
Lesson #3-Spontaneous road trips during the winter time require a bit of extra planning. I traveled with grandma and grandpa to their home in Bend so my options for getting back to my house in the Portland area included rental car, plane, bus or ride share. Because of Lesson #2, the trip set me back $165 ( fine from law enforcement official) so I had to consider the cost of my options for going home.
A basic rental car was $44 when I checked on Tuesday but had nearly doubled by Wednesday evening ($77). Unfortunately, snow was expected and I own all-wheel drives because I hate putting on chains. It wasn’t clear if I would have to purchase chains to carry with me (since chains or traction devices are often required) or if the rental agency would provide them but either way, I hate chains. Larger cars with 4-wheel drive or all wheel drive come with a bigger price tag for renting as well.
A flight from the Redmond Municipal Airport to Portland cost $299. Right before a major holiday is not the time to get great prices on flights. The Portland Airport does have a light-rail stop so if I get to the airport, I can hop on Max and make it within four miles of home for an extra $2.50.
A bus trip on the Central Oregon Breeze was $48. The Breeze was booked when I called Wednesday so I missed the opportunity to come home Thursday. Spontaneous travel close to a major holiday requires flexility.
At 6:45am on Friday morning, I boarded the bus in Bend. The seats were soft and I had two to myself. As we traveled north, I watched the sunrise over the high desert. On their website, Smith Rock is in one of the pictures and that photo perfectly represents the beauty of that region. The sage brush, juniper, and frost covered fields rolled by as I read and relaxed.
As farmland gave way to forest as we increased in elevation, the frost alongside the road gave way to snow. Watching drivers struggle to put on chains from my cozy seat reaffirmed that riding the Breeze was a great choice for me.
Though there are many stops along the way where riders can board or get off, stops are quick and the trip was an overall awesome experience! There is scheduled restroom break at Government Camp Sno Park.
Overall the bus ride was absolutely amazing but it did lead to several other lessons.
Lesson #4-On winter weekdays, it’s easy to forget that school is in session. When the bus started making funny noises, the driver pulled into the first parking lot possible–right into a school parking lot. All the faces of the kids were pressed against the cafeteria window looking out (likely thinking we were a rock star tour bus) as the frantic nicotine addicts filed out to smoke (as they did at every stop). If the school didn’t go into Lock Out, I would be very surprised. Clearly, the driver didn’t think that pulling into a school parking lot was a bad idea and the smokers had no idea where we’d stopped. An adult from the school approached the bus and we loaded up and moved along for at least 300 yards before a giant “KATHUNK” announced the official break down. Good News–The company gave me a voucher for free ride in the future and I will undoubtedly enjoy another trip on the Central Oregon Breeze the next time I get to visit my parents.
Lesson #5-Uber is awesome! Even though reading in a quiet bus is fun and a new bus was on the way, the young ladies sitting near me were worried that they would miss their flight home to Wisconsin if a new bus didn’t arrive quickly. Because I love my own kids so much and wouldn’t want them to fret, I quickly offered to split the cost of an Uber to the airport. Within five minutes, our Uber driver arrived and we were on our way.
Lesson #6-The airport is surprisingly busy on school days. LUCKILY, a room mom/uber driver was at my service to take me from the broken bus to the Max station at the airport so I could continue my journey back to Beaverton. The airport was buzzing but the room mom/uber driver knew just how to navigate since the airport parking lot at Christmas time resembles a school parking lot every school day.
Lesson #7-Leisurely reading my way across Oregon on a bus, in a train, through the snow and in the rain, was amazingly relaxing so even though life can be stressful, I’m 100% sure that I was far more relaxed than any teacher in town during the last hours before winter break.
Lesson #8-The RUSH that comes from making it through the last week of 2018 is not the same when retired. The sweet feel of the first day of a vacation is something I did not experience following my journey. To all the educators out there–Thank you for serving our nation’s most valuable resource while I enjoyed the snow, the views and books.