My cousin Keith got married on October 7, in one of those small exclusive weddings that makes everyone who is invited feel like they’ll miss out if they don’t show up. The wedding was to be held at a ranch outside of Salt Lake City, which promised beautiful views and abundant wildlife, and good times were anticipated by all.
Matt decided to fly to Salt Lake City from DC. Ben had to attend a conference in Wyoming, so he drove to that, and from there spent a week hiking and camping alone before making his way to the wedding venue. The rest of us thought, “hey, Salt Lake City isn’t very far away! Let’s drive! Together! Through the night! It will be like a giant moving sleepover!
We had a plan.
We’d leave at 10 pm, Pacific Time, in our red minivan. Jenny would drive for the first three hours or so, then Dad would take a shift, and then Amy. By 11 am Mountain Time, we’d be in Salt Lake City, after 12 hours of driving.
I got in the front passenger seat to keep Jenny awake. We started the van, and began backing out of the driveway.
“Wait!” said Amy. “Is one of our tires low? This van is vibrating like one of our tires is low.”
Jenny stopped the van. Dad got out and checked. No, none of the tires were low. We got back in and backed the rest of the way out of the driveway.
Amy, Steven, Mom, and Dad relaxed in their seats and tried to go to sleep. I relaxed in my seat and tried not to go to sleep. It was hard. I was tired, it was near my bedtime, and the van, despite its tendency to vibrate more than usual, was lulling me to sleep. “Are you okay if I sleep a little?” I asked Jenny.
“Please don’t sleep,” said Jenny. “When I asked Dad where to go he said to ‘Get on the 205,’ and then he went to sleep, and I’m not exactly sure what he means.”
And so our trip began, with Jenny driving and me navigating. Just to be clear, my version of “navigating” was to say, “hmm, I think I-205 takes off of I-5 around exit 283…nope, I guess not, there’s no signs for it…oh, there’s a sign, it’s exit 288.” There’s signs for everything these days; who needs a GPS? Who even needs a map?
In Portland we got onto I-84, and began a midnight drive along the Columbia River Gorge. This was the area that got destroyed so terribly in the Eagle Creek Fire, and I strained my eyes through the faint smoky haze that still hung in the air, trying to assess the damage. Against the full moon I saw trees. Trees with leaves. So perhaps they were mostly undamaged after all? The ones along the road at least?
The exits to Multnomah Falls were blocked off. We rounded a corner, and suddenly the trees stood stark and black against the sky, just for a short stretch, and then we saw leaves again.
I was so curious to see how it looked by daylight. But like all wise men, we ended up returning by another way, so I never saw.
Jenny began to grow a little tired. “Hey look, I think that’s a dam!” she said of the white structure to our left that glowed oddly in the moonlight. I squinted at it for a second, puzzled by its oddly train-like appearance, when Jenny corrected herself. “Oh wait, that’s just a train,” she said sheepishly.
Dad woke up around 1 am. “You ready for me to take over?”
I don’t know about Jenny, but I sure was. Jenny and I moved to the middle, Mom and Dad moved up front, and I tried to sleep.
The odd vibrations of the van made sleep difficult at first, but I managed eventually. I slept for hours and hours, waking only when it was Amy’s turn to drive and Jenny and I moved to the back seat.
When I woke up it was Friday morning, and we were a good ways through Idaho. With greasy hair and un-brushed teeth, we had just a few more hours of driving until we’d reach Salt Lake City, and after that, a few more hours to kill before we could get into our rental house.
But I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow.
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