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

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