Sunday, December 27, 2009

Family Fantastic

We had a wonderful and beautiful Christmas. Mom and Dad really enjoyed having those little monkeys there, even tho' bits and pieces of high-pierced squeals were squeezed in between bouts of running, they loved it. Bret and Sara arrived and Sara was really dressed up--she looked so beautiful. Bret looked happy and the boys were 'trimmed and pruned'. We had some horsey derves and a little wine, sat down to a lovely dinner---can you believe mom and dad got the whole thing from Safeway and it was DELICIOUS!--then we opened presents and it was just chaos, lol! I loved it. Of course, there was the obligatory big box that the kids went to right away after dropping their presents. It was a beautiful and sunny day with some wind but still, for Portland, it was great. Sara and Bret and the boys left and Kevin filled up the digital frame we got for the parents with all the pics we took that day and then we headed out, around 5:30. It usually takes about 3 and a half hours to get home but we had a real event on Christmas Day this year. Somewhere close to 6:30, shortly outside of Sandy, Or., we ran into a road block, literally. Traffic was backed up for over a mile, and police cars were flying by on our left side, racing up the highway. We must have counted at least 25, then there were plain-clothes cars flying by, the next thing were two news vans, a huge van towing a search light set-up, and a giant van with "Systems Control" on the side (that one carried the lieutenant!) in it. You know, times are amazing. Just a few years ago we would have been sitting there for hours with no clue as to what was going on. I don't think we were sitting there for more than a half an hour when we called up Kevin's parents and asked them to see if there was anything going on on the news channel and we got that info pronto. About 3:00 o' clock in the afternoon a 41 year old man had shot a 63 year old woman in the head and he fled, and at that moment he was "armed and dangerous and on the loose" in that area, they were actively searching for that person!
It was dark now and the wind was blowing circles around the vehicles, we kept trying to listen to the news on the radio but reports were rather sketchy, nothing we didn't already know at the beginning with the parent's report. Now and then a car or two would turn out of the line and head back to Sandy and we would inch our way up closer to the road block and the flashing police lights. A young man got out of the car ahead of us and skateboarded up to the checkpoint, as he made his return, he was giving information to drivers. At 8:30 he stopped to tell us that the police said they would be opening up the road closure at 10:30. It was a long wait and no bathroom, we had already eaten the left over pie we brought with us and my sun flower seeds were drying out my mouth. BUT...we thought we'd wait it out since the detour---which had been closed due to a downed power line--would take just as long. Shortly after that an ODOT employee began walking down the line of cars and as he did so, they would turn out and head back to Sandy. When he reached us he suggested we not wait even though the road would possibly open up at 10:30, but there was just something in the suggestion that made us decide to turn around as well.
So we joined the line of cars and returned to Sandy, stopping at the ONLY quick stop open, on Christmas night. There were only two young men in there and I think they were a little overwhelmed with the sudden influx of customers. Kevin and I grabbed something quick to munch on and a cup of coffee--here's the rub: I have NEVER EVER gotten a good cup of coffee at a quick stop but this time it was fantastic! I paid for the snacks and asked the young man if he could accept a small tip for having to work on Christmas night. His face lit up and he said such a gracious thank you, he said it made his day. I asked if there was a restroom available so the young man showed me the way, he had to wait outside because it was for employees only I guess. When I came out, I told him that someone had left their wallet in there and he anxiously said, "Oh wow, that's mine!". I know it was small but it did make me feel like I had done something good that night. There was just something in the way that young man had said such a sweet thank you, made me wish I could have left him a lot more.
We hopped back in the truck and joined the detour-bound procession. Now this wouldn't be much to talk about except that this entire string was going both ways on a very narrow and winding two-lane road, there were times when the tires on the vehicle in front of us were just barely on the road. The area we went through was quite rural with the occasional brightly decorated cabin, windows open to the world and families opening presents under their trees. You could just imagine their curiosity as this lighted ant line of cars passed by, must have looked like Los Angeles at 5:00 p.m. We must have been driving this detour for a good 45 minutes when we finally came back out on Highway 26 that takes you over the pass, past Mt. Hood which had already been in the news this week, too. I couldn't help but think of the so called climbers that lost their lives up there just days earlier, and how their families were not celebrating this holiday like we did. I was also thinking of how sad the incident was that caused our delay on this holy celebration. Finally, at 1:15 a.m. we walked through our front door at home. How but for the grace of God go I....
Now I clarify my statement earlier on the "so called climbers": These people went on a dangerous expedition without ANY GPS system, they went UNPREPARED and subsequently lost their lives and cost thousands of dollars for search and rescue, hundreds of combined man hours for search and rescue and undue loss and sadness for their families. As we drive by Mt. Hood a few times a year, I always think of those people who will be up there forever and always say a little prayer of some sort.

I have been smiling for two days, what memories!!