Trust the Gene Genie

Monday, February 26, 2007

Livin' lodge

It's been almost 13 years since I was last in Seattle. Which is weird, 'cause that means I'm old. Anyway, Becky and I took the girls up to the moss-covered city last week to see some long-lost family. It was a good time.

My sister Janelle and her hubby Nathaniel -- or Natty Bumpo as he's known to James Fennimore Cooper -- invited us up to spend some time with them in the shadows of Mount Ranier. They take their four kids each winter to a little cabin at Camp Zarahemla near White Pass so they can have a few days of snow intead of rain during the cold months. Anyway, this year, they got more cabin than they knew what to do with. So they invited along any and all family members who wanted to join in. Obviously, we took them up on the offer.

Becky's brother Spencer and his significant other Heather also live in the Seattle area, so going up was like hitting two birds with one stone. We stayed a day and half with Spence and Heather -- they took us out to dinner at the Revolution Cafe, next door to the Experience Music Project, pretty cool -- and then we headed over to Janelle and Nathaniel's. All in all, not a bad way to spend a week.

The lodge at Camp Zarahemla was HUGE. It comfortable sleeps like 40 people. There were 12 of us, not counting the two babies. My sister Diana and her husband Spencer came up from Salt Lake. Anyway, we sledded, read, built and stoked raging fires in this massive wood-burning stove. Janelle and Diana did most of the cooking in the lodge's industrial-sized kitchen and I didn't shower the whole time I was there. It was pretty great.

Coming home, however, was another story. Oregon, in case you didn't know, is retarded. We lived there for two years, so we had a good idea of this already. But, of course, driving home this was reaffirmed. The mountain pass over which the Oregon/California border lies, Siskiyou Summit, got a couple inches of snow that day. So in classic Oregon fashion, the State Police went into emergency mode and required chains on all vehicles driving over the summit. That meant we got stopped on I-5 just south of Ashland in backed up traffic for two solid hours. We were litterally parked. Maybe six miles from the pass. There was no snow on the road, nor was it snowing. We ended up having to stay the night in Ashland. Which by itself isn't a bad thing. But we were ready to be home, we didn't want to add another day to our trip.

Now, let me give you some context. Siskiyou Summit is one single mountain pass and the only mountain pass on Oregon's sttretch of I-5. It snows there every year. So, one would think, Oregon. You have one 10-mile stretch of interstate to keep clear each winter. You know it's going to snow there every year, so it shouldn't be too hard to prepare. And you don't have to worry about keeping other places on I-5 clear of snow, because no other place on the western side of the state gets snow.

And yet, every year, when the snow comes, Oregon Department of Transportation turns its head, eyes wide in disbelief and screams, "It's snowing! Sweet merciful crap, it's snowing! On Siskiyou Summit! I don't believe it. OhManOhManOhManOhMan! What do we do!? What the hell do we do!?" To which the Oregon State Police responds, "Snow!!?? Oh crap. Ummmmmm. I hear there are chains you can put on your car to give you traction in the snow. Tell everyone to do that. There's already an inch of snow on the ground!!!"

Let me just put this out there. I'm not boasting, I'm sharing. I've driven through some pretty bad snow storms across Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho. Just a few years ago Becky and I drove through a blizzard in Idaho where the snow was blowing so hard it was coming at us horizontially and you literally could see only a couple feet in front of the car. One October when I was driving through Wymoing, I-80 at Rock Springs got so bad they actually closed a gate and shut down the freeway. But this is Wyoming where you get three feet of snow in an hour and the wind then blows it into 10-foot drifts. By all means, close the interstate.

In fact, in all the years I've been driving in the Mountain West, I've never once had to use chains. I've never once been required to have chains. These states, with their hundreds of miles of freeway and seemingly numberless mountain passes manage to keep their raods, for the most part, open and clear, every winter. Oregon, with it's one pass on I-5, which sees snow regularly enough that you can plan on seeing some each winter, can't. To road-weary travelers, ready to be home, this is just obnoxious and frustrating.

So to Oregon I say, "I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries. Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time."

Or, if you'd like to see the Transformers acting out that particular scene from "Holy Grail," then just click below (you won't be sorry):


Diana said...

Seriously Oregon is poop on a stick. The only thing that made it cool was when you guys lived there. Now it is not cool. We did not enjoy driving through Oregon, although we took a different route than you. I just can't stand someone else filling up my gas for me. Sorry you guys had to endure chain incident. Perhaps you should've gotten out Rob and told them how obnoxious they are. Poo-poo heads.

Stephanie said...

That was awesome, Rob. I liked how you refered to Heather as Spence's "Significan other." Oregon makes me made, if they realized how much chains tear up the road, especially when there isn't that much snow, they might change their tune. People on the west coast are paranoid as it is so they are going to have snow tires.

candi said...

Having never been through Oregon, I'm afraid I cannot comment on how poopie they are. They deserved the taunting you gave them though, and maybe you should taunt them a second time, and send it directly to them. It sounds like they would not know what to do with it, but someone there must be familiar with Monty Python, and can translate. I won't tell you about our trip home from Seattle. It would make you jealous. It involved alot of 24 watching.

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