Friday, September 27, 2013

Heart Break Rest Stop

On Tuesday, September 10, 2013, Frank woke at 0545 hours and drove Big White south from Olympia, Washington to Portland, Oregon. We arrived on its north most outskirts around 0745 and wound our way through its mind-blowing traffic.

French Prarie & Santiam River Rest Areas
On our way to Eugene, we stopped at the French Prairie rest stop. It provides restrooms, picnic tables, drinking water, vending machines, a public telephone, a kiosk and historical marker and a travel information gazebo. What surprised both Frank and I the most were the number of people seeking a ride and panhandling for food or money. We spoke with several of the other travellers and they explained that once you arrive in Oregon state begging at the rest areas is common practice.

At Santiam River rest area, south of Salem, we were approached by two young women and a young child begging for money. I spoke with one of the young adults named Alicia.

“How did you get to this point in your life?” I said.

“I don’t have a husband and the fathers of my four children don’t give me any money,” she said.

I thanked her for her answer and asked what her plans were for the future.

“I’m registered at college in Eugene and they said I’d get a place to live with my children. For now, we’re living in a cheap motel,” she said.

“I’m sorry to hear about your predicament and will pray for your strength,” I said.

I handed the young mother some money and left to board our motor home.

We arrived in Eugene early afternoon and had a conversation with our welcoming relatives about the condition of the population living in their area.

Occupy Eugene ~ courtesy of Wikipedia
They explained that there are a lot of homeless people living in Eugene. The weather apparently appeals to them. Also, there is an active group of Occupy Eugene protestors gathered daily at the corner of Eighth and Oak Streets.

Most impressive about Eugene is the local government’s eclectic way of handling its citizenship. For example, some of the residents have adopted the boulevard at the front of their homes. As we explored our surroundings with Frank’s nephew and his wife, we came across locations where pumpkins and other useful vegetables grew robustly on city property. The fragrances of fruit wafted from the trees and mingled delightfully with the chant of songbirds. Large frisky squirrels scrambled from tree branches to rooftops to scope out the best food sources.

We laid our heads down that evening and enjoyed a restful sleep.

Tip No. 2: Be the first to say hello and open a conversation.

Eugene's Occupied Boulevards

Brown-eyed Susans

Saturday, September 21, 2013

So It Is

Big White at Home Base
We’ve named our twenty-three foot 2003 Ford 350 bus Big White. We are in the process of converting it to our motor home. Frank, my husband, has a construction background assembling houses and building his personal 12-metre sailboat. His handy skills and patience is how we now have a Murphy bed in the bus.

On September 9, 2013, we pulled into the Black Ball United States ferry terminal. The attendant at the front gate asked how many passengers we had on board.

“Two. Me and my wife,” Frank said.

“Just two? You don’t have other passengers?” he said.

“No. Would you like to have a look? It’s our motor home,” Frank said.

The bearded man stepped aboard and scanned the interior of our travelling home.

“So it is,” he said. He stepped off and waved us through to the ferry line up.

In park, we presented our passports to the boarder guard and received our official United States of America Department of Homeland Security sticker.

Coho Seattle Ferry
The activities on the ferry upper deck included the chatter of fellow travellers, the squawk of seagulls as they swooped down in search of food scraps, the bellow of the ferry horn and the seawater fragrance of the Victoria, British Columbia harbour.

We bounced off the ferry at Port Angeles, Washington, where we had our passports checked one more time. After motoring a few kilometres, we switched drivers and I sailed down southbound highway 101 stopping at the Eldon Store to give our legs a rest. That day we journeyed 230 miles. We ended at a rest stop north of Portland and slept among the long-haul transport trucks.

Eldon Store on Highway 101 South

Tip No. 1: Stop frequently to enjoy the view.

Big White boards the ferry

Highway 101 South