Family Travels, Part 2

Our second winter break excursion was a quick drive up to Hood Canal, Washington, where we were going to spend a few nights as a gift to the Zs for Christmas (trying to go heavy on experience and light on crap). This outing had a bit of frenzy on the outside and and gooey wonderfulness on the inside. (The”outside” would be the beginning and end of our journey.)

Once again, we were traveling via Zipcar, this time in a Scion xB. Tom picked up the car in the morning while I raced with Zoe via light rail to the downtown Portland Swimwear store to buy her an emergency suit. (We figured out at the last minute that we must have tossed her too-small gear after the end of the summer swimming season…oopsy.)

We were renting a wee cabin with a kitchen and access to a gas grill. Hence, we not only loaded our little car with bags and hiking gear, but also with a big old ice chest and heaps and heaps of food. There we were, in our cute little vehicle, stuffed like sardines, parked on the street outside of our building engaged in the inevitable husband/wife natter about the best route for undertaking the journey. All was normal…until we simultaneously noticed a yellow indicator light on the dash. It had an exclamation point. Couldn’t be good.

After maybe ten minutes looking through the HORRIBLE manual, we figured out what it was — tire inflation issues.

Next step: call Zipcar. They promptly assured us “it should probably be fine and if the tires go flat, you can just call us.” Mind you, about this time, I lept out of the car to see if any of the rubber appeared obviously low, only to have a heavy downpour of snow, rain, and hail open up from the heavens. We relayed to customer service, very politely, that if we got a flat tire driving to the middle of nowhere with a rain/snow mix coming down, they weren’t exactly going to be able to assist us in a timely manner. Happily, they agreed, and after considerable machinations involving both of our membership cards, we worked out a way to switch vehicles. (Upgraded to a big roomy minivan — oh yah!)

So, we took our clown car to the minivan’s parking lot and in the less-than-ideal weather, opened up both hatches and frantically transferred everything. I am sure we looked completely ridiculous implementing this fire drill, but we executed it flawlessly…by “we” I mean “Tom,” of course. That done, we returned our first vehicle to its home, and we were finally on our way…maybe an hour or two later than we wanted to be, but hey, this is why we don’t fly — it’s too stressful!

I am pleased to report that Hood Canal was its usual breathtaking self, all snug and warm nestled beneath the the snow-capped Olympic Mountains. We cooked yummy meals. We visited with Ian and Deborah. The girls swam and swam. Tom and I watched total trash cable TV until late into the evening (one of the side benefits of not having cable at home). And, we went for a walk through a beautiful estuary, from whence these pictures came. Kingfishers plunged into the cold waters. Great Blue Herons were hunting and doing that funny head shake as they swallowed their prey. Grebes and loons were afoot.

We journeyed home on December 31st, New Year’s Eve, a trip that we had planned to terminate with a stop at the Humane Society to pick up a kitten, yet another Christmas gift for the Zs. We left in plenty of time. We made good progress on the way home…until we stopped…quite literally. An accident on the I-5 Columbia Bridge had completely halted forward progress on the freeway. So close, and yet so far. After about 30 to 45 minutes stalled, we are able to exit and make our way over to the I-205 bridge, and then we circled back to the shelter on the Portland side of the mighty river.

Upon arrival at the Humane Society, we were told that they were cleaned out of all kittens, all juvenile cats, and that they wouldn’t have any more until Memorial Day. May? Really?

What could we do but hop back in the car and race to the Multnomah County Animal Shelter? Good idea, only it was closed early for the holiday. Our plans to get a kitten and spend the last weekend of the Zs’ vacation helping it get acclimated seemed to be dashed. All of us were pretty dejected as we pointed our borrowed auto in the direction of home.

While Tom made a few wrong turns trying to get back to the city, I worked my thumbs away on my smart phone. (God how did we ever live without these things?) And, at the eleventh hour, found a recently-opened cat-only shelter in Lake Oswego called The Oregon Cat. My poor husband gamely rerouted us again and off to LO we went.

We hit the trifecta: they were still open, they had kittens, and there was enough time to go through the adoption procedure.

The rest…well, that’s really a whole other blog post!

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