Thursday, December 11, 2014

Who Moved The Border?

When I called Howard the night before I left Eugene, he said that Environment Canada had issued a weather warning for the west coast so I looked up the weather on-line and learned that I should expect substantial rain, wind, flash flooding, and delays. With the horrors of my last windshield wagging trip through Seattle  still fresh in my mind, I decided - in the spirit of Christmas - to leave my gifts of fabric and yarn and stitch and depart by another route.

Since I love driving and seeing new areas, it didn't bother me to take an unfamiliar route - up highway 97 - especially as many people I know have driven it and recommend it. The first part of the trip north toward Portland was familiar and the weather certainly looked like the warning although...

... it improved substantially as I drove along. Obviously, I'd made the right decision. I took quite a few pictures in this area around the Columbia River and The Gorge not only because it was so beautiful but because it very much reminded me of home. I've been asked many times what it's like where I live and in the past I've replied that it's similar to the Bend/Sisters area - and it is - BUT...

... this area is considerably more like home. And it's about here where things went wrong. Normally when I travel, I use mapquest to design my route, zooming in to see where "they" are sending me around silly corners because it's shorter not smarter and then adjusting the route to what makes sense to me before printing the directions for my travel file.

Because this change of plans was last minute, I wrote the instructions and neglected to mark the mileage on only one turn. Naturally, that would be the one. I zigged when I should have zagged... and I knew it... but I figured I'd correct at the next major junction.

There was some fabulous scenery along my new-new route including this wind farm. The windmills look so majestic and graceful as they turn and dance. See the truck? See how small it is? Those were REALLY BIG towers set against...

... powerful skies, I'm glad I didn't miss it however... glancing at the clock... I started to wonder who moved the border because it was getting on time for me to be there and I wasn't. In fact, I'd been going way too far east for way too long when home was north and then west.

And that's when I realized I'd been thinking in kilometers not miles - a real problem when you live in Canada and travel in the US. Kilometers flip by faster. A hundred kilometers is an hour. A hundred miles is not. When I got to that next major junction - Spokane - I was about two and a half hours off my route. This is where you should probably start visualizing me as Norm from the Michelin commercial, only female. Things went wrong.

Now... just to clarify... and it's probably not understandable... because it's a Myrna idiosyncrasy... it did NOT bother me that I was two and a half hours out of my way making it five hours to get back because I didn't need to be anywhere at a specific time and I'd been enjoying the drive. What bothered me is that finding myself two and a half hours from where I needed to be is NOT AT ALL LIKE ME. I normally have a great sense of direction but lately - direction has been deserting me and two and half hours is a bit more than being out by a couple blocks. HOWEVER...

... a two and a half hour zig only requires a two and a half hour zag to correct. I stopped to get gas and a map and ask the mature and should have known better gentleman behind the cashier for advice. He asked me what I was driving and directed me up route 395 to Colville and then across route 20 first to Republic and then to Tonasket where I could then head north on 97. I should have asked why he asked.

Route 20 between Colville and Republic is a high mountain road complete with warning signs, chain up areas, and jumping deer in the headlights.  I had a good laugh over what I'd written in my last posting about how women can travel alone in foreign countries and survive. YES YES - I can. I'd love to drive that road again in summer because the cliffs and the valleys looked to be spectacular shrounded in dark as they were AND...

... let me say how much I appreciate the Washington State Highway Department's choice to place reflectors along the entire route. Here in BC, our high mountain roads that come complete with warning signs and chain up areas do not come with reflectors which is why when I had gotten to Colville and saw the Grand Forks, BC 28 miles sign, I opted not to turn north but to continue west. I wanted to avoid the Rock Creek Road which I found very unfriendly in the dark the last time I drove it in the dark.

At the gas station in Colville, the young man behind the cashier showed me where route 20 left town just a few blocks up so I drove along, turned right, and headed out into the very dark, very rural, winding road of route 20 until I came to the sign 20E - EAST. Yeah. No.

I was done with going east so I stopped to look at the map with its teeny tiny print fit only for a person with built in magnifiers and not for a woman with aging eyes. I looked in my purse for my reading glasses. I looked in my knitting bag for my reading glasses. I looked in my journal bag for my reading glasses. And for some strange reason, none of these bags - which were in the front seat and always contain reading glasses - contained any reading glasses. I had to get out, open the back door, dig around in my briefcase behind the back seat, find some glasses, get back in the front, read the map, turn around, and head back to Colville before continuing along 20W. West is good.even if west was the chain up warning section of the road.

When I got to the other end, the sign said 41 miles to Tonasket and 32 to Grand Forks. It was 10:00 pm and I was starting to get worried that when I finally did get to the border, it would be closed and many of the crossings don't open until late in the morning. I wanted to be in Canada before the border closed so - thinking in kilometers - I turned toward Grand Forks planning to cross the border in about twenty minutes which is why twenty minutes later I went Oh --- insert nasty swear word - I did it again. Not only was I thinking in kilometers, I was heading exactly back to where I'd been before and had just spent the last hour and a half making a triangle. A beautiful triangle. But a dark and winding and completely unnecessary triangle.

When I arrived stressed and bedraggled at the border, the two border guards looked at me like I was a crazy woman. I don't blame them. And thern they asked all sorts of ridiculous questions about why I had so much stuff in my car - apparently they and no one they know sews - and where was I going and why had my GPS sent me here and why didn't I have a GPS and did I know someone in Grand Forks and was I meeting them. And then they asked me to turn off the car and pop the trunk.

That's when I did have a little cry. It'd been a long day and I have not had my car searched at a border crossing in over twenty-five years. When I told them that, they informed me in border tone that I was crossing an international border and I informed them in bedraggled woman that I did it all the time and was usually asked a few questions and sent on my way. Personally, I think they were bored and needed something to do.

Twenty minutes later, they had gone through my car - a search during which they broke the extension table for my sewing machine - and I pulled up ahead, stopped, and phoned my husband who informed me in that didn't you know voice that I have a compass on the dash of my car. Ladies... I did not take it well. It's not like I didn't know where north was but you don't just turn the car in that general direction and following compass guidance bump up and down the hills, through the trees, and chitty-chitty bang bang over the lakes and rivers until you magically appear at the border. You do have to take the roads. He won't make that comment again - VBG.

SO... I stopped for gas in Grand Forks fully intending to turn west and head for home because I really didn't think I'd sleep anyway so why not drive only the older than me, probably owned the station, gentleman behind the till informed me that there had been an accident - between a semi-truck and a car - that was blocking the road and that according to the tow-truck driver, the road would be closed for up to six hours.

Do we call this divine intervention at this stage?

If I'd carried on to Osoyoos, I may or may not have made the border in time but if I did make the border, I would in all likelihood have tried to make it all the way home and since I'd left at 7:30 in the morning and it was now after 11:00 at night, that would not have been a good choice. The road was closed. I got a hotel, woke up early the next morning, drove the winding, curvy, without reflectors highway down toward highway 97, turned right, and FINALLY found a Starbucks in Vernon. This is a point of contention because...

... Starbucks is a Washington company and while I know there were probably some Starbucks along the route, I did not see a single one during my entire journey across rural Washington and I really, Really, REALLY needed a coffee. This morning, when I went to MY Starbucks to journal,  I was greeted with welcome back. And it is - good to be back.

When I saw the Kamloops 144 (kilometers) sign, I had one of those tear up, touch your heart, moments and when I came over that hill - the one where I can first see the city - I waved and blew kisses... but only with one hand... because half an hour from home and studio is not the time to have an accident. That would have been the cherry on the rocky road sundae.

When I walked through the door, Miss Chloe practically had an orgasmic meltdown. There was so much wiggling and squiggling and jumping and dancing and those very sharp hard-on-your-ears but lovely to hear I'm-so-glad-to-see-you barks. After putting all the luggage in its appropriate room, instead of unpacking first, Miss Chloe and I went for the long walk which I have to say is a very good ending to an extended drive even if it contained many Many MANY sniff and squat moments to make up for eleven days of sniff and squat deprivation. And here's where I apologize for all the eye rolling I've done in the past when people have talked about their pets. It certainly is delightful to be missed that much and to be loved that unconditionally by a warm and snugly being. She's been following me around everywhere since I got home.

SO... I had an adventure. It reinforced my belief that I can mange just fine on my own. I had no time frame, so I wasn't late. No one was harmed in the making of this adventure. It's rather hilarious in retrospect.  AND... the next time I head to Oregon, I will drive that route from north to south - correctly - just so I know where the zigs and the zags are supposed to be and so I can see what I missed in the dark.

And now... the promised tools. Sheri and I were in Ashland for only one night. Sunday afternoon, we spent at the get-together and Monday morning was my coaching session with Diane. We really wanted to get back to Sheri's studio in Eugene to finish up a project we'd started and we really wanted to check out some of the shopping so we opted to visit only two stores. One was Fabric of Vision and I'll tell you about what I bought there in tomorrow's posting along with details of the dress. The other was...

... Websters - the yarn store. One of the sales women was using the tool above to brush samples. It's "the ultimate fuzz remover" and it pulled the fuzz off those knitted pieces like they were brand new. The attachment she was using looked like a squeegee but the tool comes with several other attachments. I don't know what they do. I haven't tried it yet. It was such an impressive demo that I bought that defuzzer right away. I'm not one for a lot of tools and the ones I buy have to work. This one works.

The second tool was a gift from Sheri. It's a vacuum attachment for cleaning your sewing machine. Sheri says it's available at sewing machine stores but obviously not at mine because I've never seen such a thing before - perhaps at sewing and vacuum stores - and not just sewing stores. ANYWAY... it hooks up to the hose on your vacuum and then has several attachments for sucking up and brushing off the lint. Works like wonderful. Sheri cleaned my machines before I packed them and they look like they've just come back from a tune-up. I showed the tool to Howard. I'm willing to share. It's perfect for computers as well.

AND NOW... I need to pick up some poster board and a few magazines and then I'm going to work on my assignment from Diane - the collage - in my warm and cozy, it's great to be back, studio. What fun.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - it didn't snow

If you have no good drive in you, your life will not be steered through a good direction. It will miss its destined station. Passion or drive is what moves the vehicle of a fulfilled life.
- Israelmore Avivor


  1. This is a risky time of year to take a wrong turn on a mountain highway, but all's well that ends well, right? It's good that you made it home safe and sound, because your story would have been less humorous if you had run into serious trouble. By the way, I smiled at the double meaning of your quote today!

    1. So true. If the weather had been bad, I would have stopped at a hotel sooner. It was dark but otherwise clear with a full moon even. I had no snow and only some rain the entire ten days I was away and the weather was spring-like at times. An atypical but completely welcome winter holiday.

  2. I grew up up in eastern Washington, and have been on all of those roads. Very rural, very beautiful, no Starbucks. :) Glad you made it home safe and sound!

    1. It was really gorgeous. I'm looking forward to seeing it again sometime... maybe in May when I go back down to Ashland.

  3. Oh Myrna! You should put at least five notches in your belt! What a crazy trip. I'm very glad you made it home in one piece, and with a story of valiant driving to tell and re-tell. My sense about Starbucks is that it is more an urban and rural phenomenon. And my parents are from "east of the mountains" as I learned to say. But they moved to "the coast" (Seattle), the renegades. So I know for certain that most native east of the mountaineers would say "Pay $5.00 for a cup of coffee? No way." Or something pithy. So you get rolling hills and fabulously beautiful landscapes and way more weather than Seattle gets. But you can't stop in a lovely rural town for a cappuccino. Sorry about the miles/km thing.

    1. LOL - a five notch belt. Yes indeed. Crazy but humorous - especially after the fact. Definitely Starbucks is urban. There was nary a latte in sight. Eventually I'll learn to switch the miles/km thing. It was all that day dreaming about designs that distracted me I'm sure.

  4. it should say "Starbucks is more an urban than a rural phenomenon." Sigh.

    1. Ah yes... I do that too... switch and mix up words... and apparently miles and kilometers too - VBG. I "blame" menopause.

  5. Oh my! I'd want to sleep for a week after that marathon adventure! So glad you made it home safe and sound.

    1. LOL - I went to bed at 7:30 on Wednesday night and didn't wake up until 5:30 the next morning and then I moved like a turtle. It's good. I'm getting back in the flow and everything should be "normal" by Monday. LOL - I hope.

  6. Hi Myrna, happy you made it home safely, but driving can be dangerous in any kind of weather. As for driving in wintertime, we get our share here in Switzerland, too. But with some good tyres, chaines for the extremes and some experience with driving on snow, most often I even enjoy it. But elas.... you never know what the other drivers do... and their experience in driving on snow... And crossing the border with a car full of fabric is an other experience on it's own! Living at the border to Germany I often cross borders to go to classes. One young guard once asked me about all those cardboard boxes in the back, I answered "Stoff" (fabric) in swissgerman. He got really puzzled because "Stoff" in german slang means drugs, also!...The older guard in his back could hardly keep himself from laughing, me stammering, trying to explain more elaborate in highgerman...the older guard just waved me off...! Similar things happend befor and after this incident, but I seam to look pritty trustworthy ;)


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.