As I type this, it is 7pm and I am in a nice Quality Inn room in Medford, OR with my traveling buddy aka my mom. We hit the road from Sacramento at 11:30. Here are today’s highlights of the trip!
PSYCHO WEATHER! Crikey, California. Could you make up your damned mind whether you want to pour or have sunshine, and while you’re at it, not change the weather every five feet? I felt as if I was going through a zone wall in a video game and reloaded in a new weather pattern. That lone cloud flying over the car and raining on us wasn’t funny either. On the bright side of psycho weather patterns: RAINBOWS! We saw a few.
We discovered we had finally reached Oregon by way of a humorous juxtaposition. We passed a sign that said rather warmly “Welcome to Oregon!” Literally twenty feet behind it was a sign saying “Littering strictly prohibited. $6250 fine.”
HOLY CRAP, OREGON! And y’all call Californians happy hippy treehuggers.
On a more somber note, Mom and I found ourselves passing by something we never thought we’d see. We were sort of warned about it from a bit back when we saw a truck with a sign saying “Slow Traffic ahead.” We assumed it was a funeral procession as we approached, but as soon as we were closer, we realized that wasn’t it at all. It was a procession of Vietnam veterans on bikes and in cars, and they were escorting a piece of the Wall. Yes, that wall. The Vietnam War memorial. Every rider had somewhere on his or her bike or jacket a sticker or a patch with the name of someone they were riding to honor. Here’s two of them that I managed to catch on camera.
The men, for the most part, were these stereotypical biker types with scruffy beards and worn faces, yet there was something so beautiful inside them. As they saw me peering out the window at them, every last one of them smiled at me. Some waved. I tried to smile and wave back at all of them. Mom saluted. (She’s an Air Force veteran herself. I was born on a base.) The Wall itself was inside a trailer and the trailer just . . . gutted me. It listed all of the numbers. Those who served, those who gave their lives, and those that we have never found. There was another bright spot ahead, though. It was this:
One of the many overpasses where people had gathered with flags to celebrate and honor those going past. This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Mom and I, and I don’t think I will ever forget it. (If you wonder why this is extra emotional for me, in my acting days, I was in a production of Walls by Jeanne Baroga, which was about the building of and reactions to the memorial. It was heartbreaking and gutwrenching, and we in the cast could not look at the audience during curtain call because they were always crying, and it set us off. We had vets come up to us after performances and thank us for giving them another piece of healing. Just . . . amazing. To this day, it’s a subject that moves me.)
On a lighter note, we’re now ending the day by chilling with free internet, books, and Wakko’s Wish playing on my iPad connected to the TV. I love modern technology. Tomorrow we hit the road early at 7am, and we should be stomping through downtown Seattle by 2pm. Wish us luck!