We got an early start out of Grants Pass yesterday morning – in hopes of beating the big winter storm they were threatening us with. I checked the Weather Channel, NOAA weather online, and even called Diana to see what was going on in Portland at 7:30 AM. Not knowing the terrain, I wasn’t sure if we would be going through more high mountains or not, but she and Jim assured me that I was at the highest point. From there, it was down into the valley…
As I was loading the car, a young woman with two small children was also loading her car. The children made friends with Max while Mom and I talked about the prospects of driving to Portland. They were headed there to visit friends, and she thought the drive would be OK. “If you can make it to Grants Pass,” she told me. “The rest is easy!” We wished one another well, and set off for the road.
The drive started out on dry roads, clouds overhead, but no precipitation of any kind. Our first indication of elevation came within five miles – we were at 2,020 feet and the road descended in front of us. Sunny Valley was almost, but not. The next big valley – Canyon Creek Valley was totally sunny. It was as if we had entered a blue hole with clouds mountains and low clouds ringing the valley. As we headed up the other side, the clouds closed in and we had a little rain, then some snow – but nothing accumulating.
I felt pretty confident that we would beat the storm, and we kept on moving north. The drive was a little under four hours – and we hit some serious snow about 30 miles out from Portland. It was coming down hard for about four miles – and again, not accumulating – but didn’t hamper driving in any way. I guess we all slowed down about 15 or 20 MPH, but other than that, the driving and visibility were fine.
I haven’t seen Diana for almost three years, so it was a wonderful reunion in her driveway: she and I hugging and laughing while Max looked on, waiting his turn to greet her. I still can’t believe I’m here! What a long, strange trip it’s been…
After we unloaded some stuff into the house, she and I, her dog, Puszca, and Max set off for the dog park about three blocks away. What a fabulous place! A big grassy park surrounded by high slopes to a schoolyard on two sides, trees on the third, and backing up to an apartment complex on the fourth side.
We let Max and Puszca off-leash once we were away from the street, and the two took off running and jumping together like long lost buddies. They had a great time in the park, Diana and I did a little catching up, and by the time we returned to the house, there was no question that Miss P would “allow” Max inside! They are a good match for each other in size and energy – Max, at just over a year, has more staying power than she does at 7-1/2, but he also knows when to back off and ease up.
Diana went off to an appointment, taking Puszca with her and Max and I settled into the house. I had a nice conversation with Jim – whom I had never met. He took me out to the back yard to show me their beautiful bathhouse with an authentic Japanese ofuro. I’m looking forward to a lovely soak in the tub overlooking the sloping back garden.
Last night, we had a quiet dinner of spanakopita and homemade vegetable soup, then spent a little time sitting and talking. Everyone seemed a little tired, so we “retired” to our room about 9, where Max immediately took my spot on the bed! Once I was ready to get in, I asked him to move and was rewarded with a pre-warmed, cozy nest!
We definitely beat the snow here. As a matter of fact, by bedtime I suspected it wasn’t even coming. Well, this morning we got up at seven to a lovely snowy morning – our first since Santa Fe, and much warmer than that one, too. It was a beautiful winter wonderland. I took Max downstairs to let him out in the yard and there was Puszca!
After Max “did his business,” the two dogs raced and played in the snow. Diana came out ready to go to the dog park, and I went in to get my clothes on. Off we went, the four intrepid adventurers, to the dog park. Which was even more beautiful this morning in the snow! The dogs ran and played for about an hour, and were much more mellow on the return to the house.
I’m happy to be back in Portland, Oregon. I’m really happy to be at Diana’s house, and to meet Jim at long last. I’m looking forward to some good times, good food, good conversations, lots of laughter, and a hot soak in the ofuro…