Veni, Vidi, Vacacci

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Mornin’ all.

Welp, I made it to the other side of the country and back! The journey started out a bit rough. The flights were late and turbulent, we got into town amid the biggest police chase I’ve ever seen (don’t worry, the cops hit another innocent bystander, not us. True story.), found out the reservations for our hotel were for the wrong days at 1 am…

I was not expecting a smooth trip because those don’t really happen. There are always little blips and glitches. At least we got the majority of them out of the way the first day. The only other thing that went really poorly during the week was my mistake in ordering cole slaw at a restaurant.

Is it a whole west coast thing to not put sugar in your cole slaw or just the Oregon area? No sugar, and they added dill. I get wanting to make a slaw that’s your own and unique and original and all, but friggin’ DILL!?! I like a lot of things about Oregon. However, if that’s the cole slaw standard out there, it might just be one of those cultural chasms that is simply too wide to cross.

It was a fun trip, real time COPS episode and dill-infected cole slaw aside. I am very pleased to report that while our beloved family member still has a lot of recovery ahead, she is herself. Strong, sassy, funny. We didn’t pimp out her wheelchair, mostly because it seems like she’s not going to need to use it very much. She has a cane that’s already a majestic swirly metallic purple color and hopefully soon that’ll be her only walking aid. I didn’t even have to use my own glitter. She already had it covered.

There’s an indoor carousel the city of Albany, OR decided to build a couple years ago because…reasons? I’ll admit, my first thought was, “Why the hell would anyone build an indoor carousel in this day and age? I MUST KNOW.” After I went there, I now firmly believe that everyone should build an indoor carousel in this day and age. I mean, look at this:

Have you ever seen a more majestic carousel horse/mermaid/thing? No. No you have not.

We also went mini golfing. There were seven of us teeing off, as my man’s best friend since childhood joined us for putt putt shenanigans. We pushed our slightly incapacitated family member in her wheelchair around the course to watch us royally suck. It took us hours to get through 18 holes. The secret to stretching your vacation dollars is to pick an activity you’re really very bad at. Just do it with a group that can laugh at themselves and have a good time through the painful embarrassment of inadequacy.

There are a ton of little differences between NH and OR I noticed this time around that I didn’t really absorb the first time we went out, both natural and cultural. I think I mentioned last time that I love the trees out there. Hell, I love every tree. I think that’s a prerequisite for being a hippie, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure that if I became ambivalent about trees I’d find myself in the middle of a drum circle where people in dreads and tank tops rubbed their power crystals on me in a bid to bring back my connection with the universe.

There are just so many kinds of trees out there that we don’t have out here. It’s not just “green” in the summer in OR. It’s every shade of green. Every type of leaf. Fruit trees all over the place. I don’t know if the people who grow up there really appreciate it. I was small-talking to one of the family members out there during a picnic about the trees and they pointed out that they don’t have sugar maples. One for us, seven hundred forty three for them.

There are filbert farms around Albany. I’d never seen a tree nut farm before, but we passed many. And they were HUGE. All the farms are enormous compared to the ones we’ve got out this way. Row after row after row of filbert trees. We drove by a pumpkin farm that had to be half a mile long. Pumpkin after pumpkin after pumpkin…

I know those of you who grew up there and other areas of the country with wide, flat plains perfect for cultivation must be thinking, “Oh, Bethie, you simpleton. How little you know about life.” You have to keep in mind that I grew up in an area that’s full of farms…just very little ones in comparison. We have way too many hills and rocky outcroppings that we generously call mountains to make the same type of contribution to the nation’s bread basket.

It’s not just farm land that produces in enormous quantities for the good folks of the west. We were there in peak summer, which meant that blackberries were in season. I think I’ve mentioned before that we always had a “huge” blackberry picking harvest the first week of August when we were kids. My grandparents had a very large patch of them, and we’d spend a whole day alternating between picking berries and detangling ourselves from the thorns. We’d come out with buckets and buckets of berries, and my mum would spend days making and freezing pies and pie babies (which are little pies made in muffin tins and are the absolute best), and our fingers would be purple for days.

That patch had nothing on Oregon. There are blackberries EVERYWHERE. My man says they can’t control them. I always thought he was over-blowing the situation. Naw. They are all over the place. On the side of the road, up against buildings, along parking lot fencing. There are signs all over for blackberry removal services. Meanwhile, out here in the grocery stores they cost $3.99/half pint. I suppose if I lived in Oregon, I’d get sick of blackberries, too. But, being a visitor, I was just very jealous. I saw all those patches and had pie baby cravings like you wouldn’t believe.

Where are all your motorcycles, Oregonians?

Out here, summer means a couple things on the roads: road work and motorcycles. From April to October, the early morning birdies are interrupted in their sing song by the dulcet BWAAAMMMMTHUMTHUMTHUMBWAAAAAMMM tones of Hondas and Harleys. People drive them to work. People drive them to the store to buy one or two small items. People drive them just to get out and feel the breeze up their sleeves and get the rush only a bug ass splatting on their helmets can provide. Not-Teen-Anymore Prime pointed out that he hadn’t seen a single motorcycle while we were toolin’ around out there, and we kept count after that. One on the road, and one parked in a driveway. That was it. That was all we saw for the week.

I brought it up when I was in schmooze mode, and my brother in law rushed to say, “Of course we’ve got a lot of motorcycles…” before he stopped and frowned and said, “Hm. Hang on. Maybe we don’t. I guess I never really noticed.”

You don’t, man. Take my word for it. It’s 4:14 am and I’ve already heard one go by. If you think you have a motorcycle culture, Oregonians, I’m sorry to burst your bubble.

One thing they do have, though, is cars. Car after car after car. I always thought my man’s propensity to collect vehicles was a family thing. His father was big into cars, his oldest brother is as well. I thought it was a family hobby. No. It is an Oregonian hobby. Very few homes in the town of 50,000 we were staying in had only one car. Most had at least two. And I’d say a good half of them had three or more, even the economically depressed areas. The houses were tiny and run down, but boy was there some nice Detroit steel in the drive. This dude collects Volkswagons, that chick had a yard full of RVs. Many custom jobs, too.

In our little hamlet, we are the odd ones. We are a landmark for people giving directions. “If you pass the crazy Mercedes people, you’ve gone too far.” Out there we wouldn’t even be worth mentioning. EVERYONE is a crazy car person.

It gives me a deeper insight into my man’s need to have the driveway filled at all times. I don’t know how to use this knowledge, but at least I have it now.

The flights home were poorly planned. I naively believed I could sleep on the plane. It took off at around 11 pm Oregon time and landed in Atlanta at 5ish am normal time. As it turns out, I cannot sleep on a plane. Maybe it was the turbulence from the multiple thunderstorms we passed through. Maybe it was the cramped space. Maybe it was the worry of snoring in a plane full of people. I didn’t sleep a wink. I didn’t sleep from 5 am Thursday to 6 pm FRIDAY. I haven’t pulled a stint like that since college.

I got home to find that my pile of shit’s all still here, which vexes me slightly. I thought we had a deal? I even left the back door unlocked. Guys. Really?

Since I’ve been back, I keep having bad dreams about traveling home. Not nightmares, because they aren’t about plane crashes or anything like that. As I said before, I never worry about the plane crashing. I trust the science. Just bad dreams about travel woes. Every night this past week, I’ve had at least one bad dream that the plane was delayed or rerouted or we had the wrong tickets or we were just stuck going plane to plane to plane in an endless loop. What the ever lovin’ hell, brain? I’m here, dumbass self. We made it back just fine. I had a good night of sleep the first night home, because how could I not after being up a day and a half? But every single night since has been tossing and turning from mental turbulence.

I’ve got no idea how to make it stop. Logic isn’t doing jack shit. Maybe I need to proclaim my ambivalence for trees and let the circle of hippies my words summon use their power crystals to reach out to the universe to help me figure it out.

That kind of seems like a worst case scenario, though, doesn’t it? I’ll give it a few more days before pulling that particular trigger. Power crystals are fairly extreme.

Thus concludes a Muse for Sunday, August 18, 2019. I’ve got a day of car repairs ahead of me. Maybe that’ll tucker me out enough not to have travel dreams.

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