We left Portland on Sunday, after my mother convinced us to stay for my youngest sister's birthday. It was nice to see the family all gathered together one last time... and even nicer to go back to my father's house, only to realize I had an unexpected windfall of a paycheck I hadn't realized I had forgotten about.
Feeling cozy with an extra two weeks worth of wages, I made the decision, at dad's persistent urging, to purchase a GPS...
This was possibly the best idea for the road trip, ever.
I ended up with a Tomtom of some variety, and his initial trial down to Oregon City taught me very little in how to use what would affectionately be known as 'the damn thing' in the late night hours I drove to Eugene.
We chose the British accent due to my liking of British accents in general, and, at eight, just past sundown, we drove away from Oregon City for the last time, the coordinates of my friend in Eugene- Alexandra- planted in the little machine's memory.
At first, it was disastrous. “LEFT? RIGHT NOW?! BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT THE LITTLE- OHGOD I JUST NEARLY REAR ENDED- AGGHHH THAT'S MY TURN- I HATE DRIVING!” Was the theme song of the first half hour leg of our cross-country journey.
RJ has been nothing but wonderful to me this whole way. Neither of us feels disappointed so far, despite my agitation and high stress levels.
Anyhow, my Tomtom has instilled within me the confidence to get lost and actually adventure. The thing shows us how the road turns, where to go, when we'll be there, even what the speed limit is! Unfortunately for him, he has become drastically personified by RJ and I; we're fairly certain that this machine hates us. Tom's voice seems to get ever more exasperated as we dare to take the scenic route- The Path of Giants is absolutely breath-taking, by the way. And poor Tom's robotic tones seem to raise a pitch as we tacitly ignore his carefully calculated route in favor of 'OH LOOK A GAS STATION I HAVE TO PEE!'
In short, Tom is a god, and an equal and companion in this venture. I am now able to really enjoy exploring, without the fear of getting hopelessly lost at any given moment.
At any rate, we arrived in Eugene, where we slept in Alexandra's yurt. Yes, she lives in a yurt. We spent a bit of time just exploring the town while she worked, and then spent an additional night. It was nice to see Alexandra for the last time. She tried her hardest to convince us that Eugene was far superior to New Hampshire, but was sadly unsuccessful, despite how intriguing her yurt-ish lifestyle was.
We departed just before sundown on Tuesday evening, where we headed for Eureka, California. RJ was allowed the privilege of driving. This, my friends, was a mistake; introduce a rusty driver to unfamiliar and loaded down car and endless stretches of highway that are unknown to either of us... then add a jumpy passenger who is carrying everything she owns in said car.
The result was not pretty.
Please take note:
-Driving fourty in a sixty five mile per hour zone is bad.
-Watching the road and not trying to look at your girlfriend's pretty pretty face is good
-Changing lanes by swerving abruptly is bad
-Not drifting into other lanes is good
-Pretending not to understand Tom's directions is BAD
-Knowing your left from your right is good
(Also take note that RJ claims I am 'making crap up' as I type this, but I swear to you, I speak nothing but the truth.)
At any rate, we made it to the Californian border, where we took some bad quality pictures. Then, it was winding, twisting, narrow roads that had little diamond shaped signs depicting trucks tipping over on them. This was distinctly unsettling to the both of us, but eventually, my terror got the best of me, and I was forced to sleep. At which point, my lack of shouting and shrieking helped RJ to relax enough to drive properly.
We pulled off to the side several times to view the coast, although we still have not yet made it to the oceanside itself. RJ has never touched the Pacific ocean, so this is something we will do before we leave California.
At a thrilling three fourty five in the morning, we finally arrived in Eureka... where we promptly failed to find a place to sleep. We ended up sleeping a scant three hours in the parking lot of a playground, which Tom oh so kindly guided us through many a back road to discover.
Today, I chose to drive, and, like a jerk, demonstrated all the great qualities of my driving to RJ. Including going the speed limit, changing lanes smoothly, and generally being a grouch. This culminated while RJ was napping, in me deciding I was going to find a place to pull off and take a nap. This led us to a place called Lake Mendocino, where I laid down atop a picnic table. RJ was sweet enough to give my exhausted, car cramped muscles a gentle rub, until I felt ready to continue. After that, I even managed to take us on a scenic detour for about thirty miles through Californian wine country, when I finally decided I was just too tired to be the one driving.
So far, this has been far more than I'd even dared to hope for. We're getting closer to the house of someone I know as Stargazer, from a forum we've both been a part of for many years. We survived San Francisco rush hour traffic, sleep deprivation, my ability to get lost despite GPS, and gas station salami. (It was quite tasty, actually.)
Who knows when I'll have internet next. Until then, I'm letting everyone know that I am alive and well and having the time of my life!