Las Vegas to Sacramento!
Fun times on Interstate 15 through Baker and Barstow and then over to Bakersfield on Highway 58. Has anyone done that lovely stretch of road? Wow! You’re not missing much except maybe the windmills near Tehachapi!
We just couldn’t stand the thought of getting on Interstate 5 again, so we tried Highway 99. For those that aren’t familiar, it parallels the Interstate a good portion of California. Neither of us had ever taken it assuming that it would be much slower, but we were willing to pay that price.
Happily, we found that it’s a good alternative to the 5 and not slow going at all. A nice change of pace, at least for us. It goes through many small towns and a couple of decent-sized ones as well. Near the cities, we saw lots of people out driving since it was a holiday. The areas between towns we mostly had to ourselves.
We spent the night in Sacramento in an empty house, except for the tarantula and a few mice, pets, that is. The owners – off for a Holiday gathering out-of-town. We saw a lot of lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams in the area. No wonder the cities in Southern California looked up that way enviously and started making deals to ship water south. Why not? “You have lots, we have none! Surely, something must be done.” Thus, the aqueduct was born.
The next morning, we continued our trek towards Portland. We drove through a very wet and foggy Shasta Pass. Thankfully, we didn’t run into snow or need chains and made our way easily up into Oregon. Driving that way is always a crap-shoot in the winter: go right through if it’s clear, or chain up if not. No chains? Go back to Redding and wait.
Heaven on Earth
We stopped for breakfast in Myrtle Creek, a tiny town along Interstate 5 after it descends from the highest of the mountains. The South Umpqua River was right there so we walked down to the water, with the traffic roaring above us on the bridge.
I was immediately in heaven – moss everywhere! It was glorious, and I took to photographing it all.
Wow, two days ago we were in the Nevada desert surrounded by splendid orange sandstone rock formations and today the lush green moss in Oregon. What a life!
We’ve expressed this already, but my love of moss is indescribable. Whenever I see it, I just want to lie on it, touch it, and fill my bed with it! Well, maybe not that – but I’m tempted, it’s so soft and inviting.
For people who live in Oregon, this area and many like it are no big deal. Imagine that!
Even though it was quite cloudy, I did capture the sun’s reflection in one of the small pools. Yes, and Jim’s.
Look at the amount of moss on those rocks. You can’t tell from the photos, but it’s at least an inch thick!
Welcome to Happy Valley!
Okay, back on the road and up to our next house in Happy Valley, Oregon. Yes, the town is called Happy Valley, we didn’t make that up.
We got to Portland late in the day and spent the night with Jim’s other son so we could arrive at our house sit bright and early the next morning.
We found a lovely Mid-century modern home with a large atrium as the entry point, and lots of glass and modern furniture throughout.
Believe it or not, the atrium turned out to be the most important room in the house. Part entrance, foyer, mud room, garden area. All that and more. Every single dog walk, in the rain and snow, ended here. With a pile of dirty towels to show for it, cleaning off his feet and ours. Very useful, bright and warm.
This great home came with a terrific couple and their sweet dog! In truth, we had done a home visit a few weeks prior. We loved the neat and tidy house. No clutter. Anywhere. Relaxing and easy to clean.
A Terrific Place
The neighborhood park was just outside the yard. The owners encouraged us to let the dog run free out there. We’re always hesitant to do that, no leash. After a few days of walking, getting to know this dog, we tried it.
He was fine, he always went to the same places by the trees, sniffing, digging and walking around. He never ran off or chased any creatures. So it worked. It’s the only time as house sitters that we’ve had a dog off leash. Though it went well, we were still nervous and haven’t done that since, outside of dog parks or homes with enormous acreage.
How’s this for a backyard view? Mountains in the background, trees all over. Green and wet.
Get Ready for Cuteness!
Now, we’ll show you our newest friend. He was a lovely eleven-year-old Irish Setter, strikingly handsome and gentle. See, isn’t he adorable! This photo makes him look a bit small; he wasn’t!
As you can tell, he had long hair, so a lot of grooming occurred in this house. Also, a ton of wiping wet feet every time he came inside, which was often. The mop got a real workout keeping the floors clean at this house.
The mornings were always a hoot. We’d get up, and our canine friend would cock an eye at us, keeping watch on things from his bed, but never got up himself. He had his habits, and that was that! In bed at 9:00, up at 8:00, maybe 8:15. Period.
Some areas were off limits to him: kitchen, furniture, offices, bedrooms. He knew it and never, ever pushed those limits. The only issue with this fellow was eating. His owners had informed us that eating wasn’t high on his list of priorities. They often added treats on top of his food. I just sat next to him while he ate and encouraged him and that worked fine.
He was one great walker with a fine, steady stride. Always looking around, but rarely diverted by distractions: lots of watching, but no chasing. Glad to break into a run if someone along with him was so inclined. Never, not one time, did he bark. In fact, we don’t remember him ever barking. One very cool guy.
The Four-Legged Alarm Clock:
time for a walk. He said it all with his eyes, and that was enough. Our favorite hike was up to the nearby park and onto a path along a stream. At least I liked it: a wooden walk-way, tree-lined, lots of birds, very few other creatures of any kind.
He didn’t seem to care one way or the other. He wanted to cover some ground, and this direction allowed him to do just that: not many cars or stop signs to worry about.
No matter how long or far we went, he never tired on our walks. And one of us didn’t mind the rain. It seemed our walks invited the clouds or the snow. He helped with that, “Just go with it. Won’t last forever. You can dry off soon enough.” He was great that way. Oh, and “bring a hat next time!”
Catching Up With Friends
Other than shopping we didn’t do much sightseeing during this stay. We did visit one of our homeowners in Portland as we were to start our second house sit for her in a couple of weeks.
She prepared a fine breakfast, and we enjoyed meeting her face to face at last. Even though we’d completed a house sit for her nearly a year before, we had only communicated through phone calls, emails, and FaceTime but never met. It was a key under the mat type thing at the start and finish.
Our other outing was catching up with a friend and former colleague from back in Los Angeles. She had moved to Portland and invited us over for lunch. We drove only a few blocks for a tasty lunch and excellent conversation. It is a real treat to visit with friends along our travels.
During our time at this house, rain wasn’t the only precipitation that fell. A fine dusting of snow greeted us one December morning, and then the next day as well. Our friend didn’t mind it at all, and for us it was exciting. Remember, we’re from Los Angeles!
As Luck Would Have It
There was a massive snow storm on the last day of our time at this house. Angela had already moved over to the other side of town to start our next house sit. I had only the clean-up, a little packing and then it was adios to Happy Valley.
I kept one eye on the weather all day, looking out the windows, between bouts with the broom and mop. As I got closer to leaving, the snow started falling heavier, how was this going to go?
Finally, the moment came to depart. It started with 20 minutes digging the car out of the snow and scraping all the ice off the windshield. No big deal.
Then came a slow drive down the road, carefully, to join the traffic heading for the Interstate nearby. Well, that was strange: 5,000 cars lined up going the other way. No one going my way. Did I miss the evacuation notice? No, it was just everyone heading home, getting off (not far off) the highway.
Taking my place on the big road was no problem. In fact, a couple of miles down the road I remember thinking this isn’t so bad, I’ll see Angela in Portland shortly.
Then, with no warning, the traffic stopped: all four north-bound lanes. No slowing. Stopped. A few cars inched ahead. Not really driving, only inching along. Well, it went like that for miles. I was behind a semi-truck, going maybe two mph, though the speedometer said zippo.
We were going so slow, with so much snow falling, and blowing, that I missed my exit. I saw traffic moving above me on a bridge. Hey, where are they going, actually driving? Oops.
What a Mess!
That mistake took 90 minutes to fix. I got up on that bridge much later on but not before getting caught in the thick of it. The worst part was taking 30 minutes to get out of a gas station parking lot. Not down the road. Not even in the direction I wanted to go. From here to right over there. One driver I spoke with at a service station said he had to fill up on gas after taking four hours to go just two miles from the nearby Costco! Yikes.
Ultimately, my frustration saved me. I steered into a place where no one else was, then repeated that. I didn’t care where this street took me, just please let me make some progress. Two blocks later I was on the highway headed into town. I still don’t know how that worked. I was on a highway, moving, and all alone, eastbound, towards town. Yikes, on the other side, four lanes stopped dead. Wait! That’s where I just was.
The rest of the trip was just fine, a little slow, but no complaints. The experience of driving in that storm was entirely dependent on what direction you were going: a nightmare for commuters, not so bad for those of us going the other way, at least after getting on the right road. Apparently, for some it took all night to get home; others even stopped trying and abandoned their cars: hotel rooms were at a premium.
All in all, I had an easy version of it, even if it took over five hours to make the typical half hour trip. You know things are screwy when that’s one of the best times recorded that night. I missed dinner that evening, but so what? Others missed a whole lot more than that.
What’s Next – back to a feline friend
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