“The Road not Traveled”
|Kay climbs tree on way to Mt. Hood.|
I had no idea that self-service gas stations are outlawed in Oregon. Did you know that? I pulled into a gas station in The Dalles, a town situated on the Oregon side of the Columbia River. I had to look up the pronunciation of Dalles, so people wouldn’t slap me. Some people are very persnickety about hometown pronunciations. The Dalles is pronounced "The Dallywhoppers." I mean "Galls"... with a "D".
So, I'm getting gasoline in The Dalles. I unscrew the gas cap when I spot a guy in an yellow vest approach. Caught him in my peripheral. I’ve got great peripheral. I then made the mistake of moving my credit card toward the card slot. The yellow-vested assistant then interrupted me with a “Can I help you?” I explained that I was merely trying to fill up. He then smiled and said, “Oregon.”
Oddly enough, I knew what he meant. I handed him my card and he did the rest. Washed my front and back windshields, but graciously didn’t check my oil. I don’t open my hood, and expect others to do the same.
Gasoline is steep out here. At $2.73 a gallon it cost $41 to fill up. I don’t know how much you’re supposed to tip a gas attendant on a $41 purchase with a window cleaning. He seemed please to get the $3. Back in the day, I never tipped the guy who put gas in my car. But then I never got more than $2 worth.
Another thing we discovered during our mountain trip is that the drive to Mt Hood in Oregon is lovely as can be. Forests of blue spruce and Douglas fir cover most of the region. During much of the drive up, you completely lose sight of Mt Hood. You see tall walls of trees above you and a deep gorge that drops dramatically close to your car.
Before planning our drive, we consulted a beautifully printed pamphlet that contained a well drawn map of a route around the mountain. The map showed that we were to take Hwy 35 to the town of Zigzag. Appropriate name, “Zigzag.” It was there that we were to find a paved road called “18”. It wasn’t designated as a highway, just “a paved road.”
We couldn’t find 18, and let me tell you, we looked. Our GPS hadn’t even heard of it. We asked a couple of people in the town, and they never heard number 18 ever being designated as a road. By staying on Hwy 35 we would end up in Portland, a great town that would lead us in a direction away from Mt Hood.
Eventually, I pulled into a restaurant, bar and casino. They had a special on spaghetti. The picture looked good. Being on the cusp of dusk, I told Kay to wait in the car while I went in to find out who moved 18. I decided to do the asking immediately after Kay told me she didn't want to get out of the car.
The interior of the bar, casino, restaurant was dark. A couple of guys were at the bar nursing their beer. An elderly couple was at one of the tables sopping up the rest of their spaghetti sauce. In a small area in the far corner, two guys were playing the slots.
The waitress, just as pleasant as could be, walked up to me and asked how she could help. I asked her about the road called “18.” She said she had never heard of it. She turned to the bartender who shook his head and shrugged.
Then an old man playing the slots yelled. “Highway 18? No such thing!” I had a firm grip on the map that showed there was such a thing, so I walked over to the gentleman and showed him the map showing the clear passage marked “18.”
The man shoved the map aside and told me to follow him out back. That’s when I really wished Kay had agreed to go in alone. We stopped on some wooden steps where the old man told me that the road on the map was called Lolo Pass, not 18. He had hauled logs out of Lolo Pass. He told me that the road was paved partway up and partway down, but in-between was a single lane gravel road that was a rough, dangerous drive.
I said, “So you don’t recommend I take it?” – He said, “I didn’t say that. What I’m saying is, I wouldn’t consider driving it this late of the evening without a six pack and some weed.” I told him how much I appreciated his candor, and that he probably saved lives with his advice. I also told him that I hoped he won big at the slots. He said that he had no anticipation of such an occurrence.
Kay and I backtracked down Hwy 35 to The Gals. I mean, The Dalles. Day One of the mountain drive turned out to be pleasantly memorable. The drive to Mt. St Helens, less pleasant but more memorable. Unfortunately, not enough space to tell of the adventure. Another time, maybe. Right now, I must compose a letter to the outfit that published the map titled “Columbia River Gorge to Mt. Hood.”
endYou may contact Mark by email at email@example.com