30 December 2008

Oregon, part 1

A brief history of the first Christmas that Mr. UB & I spent together: It began with a great deal of uncertainty. Portland's airport had been closed for 3 days, due to pretty much unprecedented amounts of snow. (At least, if it was precedented, there's no one around now who was also around then to remember the precedenting.) We decided to leave the presents from my family un-opened, so that we'd have something to open if we ended up stuck in L.A.

We called Mr. UB's parents from the car, because they needed more than the usual heads-up that we were on our way. They had to use snow chains on their SUV, which meant they couldn't drive faster than 35 mph. So instead of 90 minutes, it was going to take them 3.5 hours to get to the airport to pick us up. (I'm still kind of amazed that they did that.) As in, we could fly to Portland in the same amount of time that it took them to drive to Portland.

Mr. UB was loathe to throw away a perfectly good large pizza that he'd only eaten half of, so he brought it with him. He thought it would be good food for the trip, he explained, when he picked me up at 7:45 a.m. Clearly we have different thoughts about what constitutes breakfast food. But as long as he was willing to carry it, and let me mock him somewhat consistently, I wasn't going to tell him not to. They let him bring it through security (via the x-ray, naturally) when he pointed out that it wasn't a liquid.

Everything went smoothly at the airport. (Side note: hooray for Burbank airport! Unless you're flying internationally, there's no reason to torture yourself by flying out of LAX.) Our flight took off as scheduled, and we stopped in San Jose, so there were no weather problems.

Looking out the window as we were approaching Portland, it looked more like we were flying into Denver -- total white-out. Pretty, but somewhat discongruous. The trucks that take luggage from the planes to baggage claim had snow chains.

We arrived on the first day PDX had been open after a 3-day closure. Lots of people had been stuck in the airport that whole time because by the time they found out their flights had been cancelled, the city had closed the roads out & they couldn't leave. The terminal had a vaguely Lord of the Flies vibe. Suitcases were lined up all over the floor, and the baggage carousels were overflowing with back-logged luggage. It took an hour and a half to get our bags, but frankly we were just happy we found them.

So we were all geared up for a long ride home -- sandwiches purchased, restroom used, etc. Which turned out to be a very good thing, because we were very wrong to think the drive would only take us 3.5 hours. Because shortly after we got on the road, driving oh-so-slowly on the snow chains, the transit authority up there (ODOT, which I think stands for Obnoxious Decisions of Torture) decided to re-plow Interstate 5. During rush hour, 2 days before Christmas. Without telling anybody, like the radio stations that do traffic reports, or announcing it on the road signs, or setting up detours or alternate routes. So all of a sudden, we just stopped. And stayed stopped, for pretty much 4 hours. It would've taken longer, but Mr. UB found us an alternate route on his iPhone. And then it took us almost an hour to crawl 300 yards to the next exit so we could take it. But hey -- the roads were open, if not plowed. And we didn't hit a weird ice patch that made the car spin out in slow motion until there was no cross traffic & the car behind us was far enough back to avoid hitting us. So we made the 60 miles to their house in just under 8 hours.

Except that the last 1/4 mile of their driveway was too steep to plow, and too icy to attempt even with the snow chains. So the adventure finished with us staggering uphill with our suitcases, through about 2 feet of snow. I think I can safely say that I've had more graceful moments ... yeah, we'll just leave it at that.

Welcome to freakin' Oregon.

1 comment:

samantha said...

i'm hoping you packed light?