Oregon - Part I

 

It was early in the morning when my sister and I landed at the Portland International Airport. I have never had much luck with sleep while flying, and had stayed essentially wide-eyed during our red-eye flight that departed from Honolulu last night. Thinking about my impending surgery was far from relaxing, yet there had been little else on my mind during the past three months.

There was a palpable damp chill in Oregon’s still morning air. I zipped my fleece jacket all the way up and surveyed the rows of analogous-looking rental cars in front of us.

“What do you think?” asked my sister.

“Let’s take the red one, that way it’s easier to spot in a parking lot,” I said.

We packed up the trunk and were soon on our way out of the parking lot. The gate keeper told us that Shari’s Restaurant was right around the corner, where we could grab a quick bite. We drove for a couple of minutes and surely there it was, straight across the intersection. The traffic lights turned from red to green, and the car behind us honked.

“S...., I can only turn left from this lane,” my sister muttered.

“It’s all right, we’ll hang a U-ie and turn right back.” I said, unfolding the road map just in case.

Before we knew it, we were on the freeway heading north.

“Wait till I tell M, he’s gonna have a good laugh,” my sister said with a sigh.

M is my sister’s boyfriend, who was planning to accompany us on this trip, since navigating U.S. highways is not my sister’s forté and I would be out of commission after my surgery. Last minute work held M back in Honolulu and here we were...going to Seattle instead of breakfast across the street.

Turned out that M had enough foresight and lent us his GPS, which spared me from having to decipher the map in a moving vehicle, with eyes scratchy and dry from a sleepless night. This blessed piece of satellite technology led us back to Shari’s in no time.

“You know," I remarked with a certain smugness, as I admired the GPS in my hand. "I’d rather take one of these on a road trip instead of a boyfriend.”

My sister and I grinned at each other, feeling intrepid like Thelma and Louise with our regained self-confidence.

I was feeling rather tired and had little appetite, despite that nagging hunger from staying up overnight. The prospect of breakfast at a greasy spoon was not particularly inviting. Fortunately, the food at Shari’s turned out to be much healthier-tasting than the typical diner fare. My vegetarian omelette tasted refreshingly light and wholesome, and I was able to substitute the hash browns with a side order of fresh fruits. For those craving the quintessential American dessert, Shari’s offers 14 varieties of pie, including two made with Marionberries—an Oregon speciality cultivated in the lush and fertile Williamette Valley.

After breakfast, we immediately began our four-hour drive to central Oregon, where my surgery was scheduled to take place. As I stared at the open stretch of road in front of us and the snow-capped blue mountains in the distance, I pondered wearily on how I ended up like this—on my way to yet another major surgery. I suppose the journey of life takes unpredictable turns, and everyone unfortunately has a cross to bear.

“Hey look, I’m driving almost 80...doesn’t feel that fast, does it?” said my sister, who always takes care not to break the average 50 mph speed limit when driving on Honolulu’s Freeway.

I looked straight ahead for a while, the mountains on the horizon did not appear to be getting any bigger at all. Perhaps looking sideways would give me a better sense of our traveling velocity, I thought to myself. Pressing down on the power window switch, I felt the rush of cool air on my face. I picked up my camera and quickly snapped a shot.

“We are going pretty fast alright,” I said to my sister, looking down at the LCD screen at the image I had just captured...

Continued in Oregon - Part II