Friday, November 16, 2012

Getting through the Columbia Gorge ... to McMinnville

As I mentioned in the last post, we decided I would drive the motorhome from Pendleton to McMinnville, as Steve was feeling extra groggy that morning.  I was short on sleep, but feeling I could handle another day of driving.  Our new friends, the Schaffers, decided to stay an additional night at the casino RV park in order to take advantage of the laundry facilities, so Steve and I were on our own again.  We stopped in to say goodbye before heading out.  I believe we were on the road about 10:00 that morning.

I really have got quite a bit more comfortable driving our motorhome.  It's crazy, but I love turning corners.  I also love those exhaust brakes.  It just all makes sense now.  My main area of concern now is having to turn tight corners in traffic in downtown situations.  As I've mentioned, I'm a planner.  My comfort zone is knowing (being able to picture the roads/intersections in my head) where I'm going and what I'll deal with before I get there.  Obviously, this isn't realistic.  I guess that's why we've always had the Buick be our "lead vehicle".  If there's something difficult ahead that might be avoided, the lead car can notify the motorhome driver.

On this travel day, I was nervous about unknown wind conditions in the gorge first.  We began driving, mile after mile, and the weather was just great!  We saw a large flag hanging straight down somewhere near Umatilla.  No wind!  What were the chances?  Even as we approached The Dalles, the wind continued to be pretty much non-existent.  This was such a huge relief, and made for an easy day of travel.  It was clear we would go all the way to McMinnville.

As we drove through the last section of the gorge, approaching Troutdale, we were speaking via cell phone, deciding how we'd travel through Portland to McMinneville.  We agreed on the Marquam bridge across the Willamette, to I-5 South.  While going over the bridge in the motorhome was scary, it seemed do-able.  The next decision was which exit to take off I-5.  Would we take Hwy 99 through Tigard, or drop down to Aurora, get fuel at the truck stop and then take Hwy 219 to Newberg to connect with Hwy 99.  I wasn't sure I wanted to go further south, and we didn't have to get fuel yet.  We'd filled up at Pendleton as we headed toward Wallowa Lake, and 100 gallons was lasting us just fine.  I figured we would just fuel up at the end of November before heading to Brookings.

The other option, taking the Hwy 99 exit off I-5 was scary, since I just couldn't picture it.  How many times had I ever driven south on I-5 that far, coming from Portland?  I was afraid there would be an intersection, where I'd have to make a tight left turn to head east on Hwy 99.

...That's when Steve's cell phone died.  His battery likes to surprise us.

No more opportunity to talk through the decision.  I resolved myself to just follow Steve in the Buick, wherever he might go.  What other choice did I have?  I kept my eyes on Steve in the Rendezvous and just kept going.

About the time we prepared to take the approach to the Marquam, traffic really slowed down.  Going slow always makes things more simple!  I managed to stay in my lane over the bridge and maneuvered the on ramp to I-5 without any difficulties.  Hurrah!  Next, I wondered which exit Steve would decide to take to get us to McMinnville.  It appeared we'd be doing the Barbur Blvd/Tigard exit.  I just kept following Steve.  Seems there was no intersection to deal with!  No left turn!  Also traffic was nice and slow through Tigard, giving me lots of time to make sure I stayed in my lane and made no quick stops at traffic signals.  God was so good to us yet again!

I know you "man-type creatures" out there are probably thinking I'm some kind of wimp.  How hard can driving a motorhome - or a semi be?  Well ... I kind of am a wimp.  I'm just a determined wimp.  I love accomplishing things I thought were perhaps impossible for me.  And, along with that, I am learning more each day how to trust the God I have chosen to put my trust in.  It's not magic.  You don't just decide to follow God and suddenly have no questions about where you are willing to go.  Each day, each hour, each minute is often a new decision.  Yet each time we get through the next rough patch, I find He is trustworthy.  Not a bad lesson to learn over and over again!


  1. I still have trouble visualizing you driving that big RV.. lil ole you!
    Seems like you need to buy a couple of car chargers for your vehicles.
    I miss you both.

    1. You are so right ... but Steve finally was able to replace his old cell phone ... and it uses the same charger as mine! Naturally, we should be in the motorhome together now, so it won't be the same issue. We'll have NEW issues, undoubtedly!

  2. Love traveling with you. Enjoy hearing about your growth in the Lord. Keep on trusting He is faithful!

    1. Thanks, Donna. You are still in my prayers. You guys are a real testimony to God's faithfulness through difficulty.