Mistake Number…

Well, the last 48 hours has been fun. I am taking a few day off before Christmas to go visit my mom and brother up in the Portland area, and I flew in Sunday night. I thought that I might document the few mistakes that I made during the trip so that others might be better prepared for their holiday. Mistakes will be documented in red so that others may learn.

I actually began promisingly. While still at the airport in Oakland, it was announced that due to inclement weather in Portland, we wouldn’t actually know if we were landing in Portland until after we were airborne. It was conceivable that we might have to divert to Seattle-Tacoma. I called my brother to tell him to not bother meeting me at the airport, that I’d rent a car when/if I got in, and I’d drive out to see him. This was the appropriate decision, and not a mistake. But don’t worry, they will come soon enough.

I thought to myself, gee, I could either rent a car, or I could take Max (the Portland light rail) to a location close to my brother, and he could pick me up there. Uh huh, you guessed which one I took. The next decision was to either rent a 4 wheel drive vehicle or save money by renting a little Camry. Yep. I did at least get the damage waiver. Leaving the airport I tried to decide how to get to my brothers house, after getting on 205, I decided I could either go through downtown Portland, potentially crossing many icy bridges, or take 205 south and then get on I-5 northbound. I’m not marking either one of these choices as a mistake, since I suspect either was bad. Initially I-205 seemed fine, and an appropriate choice. The temperature climbed to a balmy 37 degrees, and in spots the roads were almost dry. I began to get cautiously optimistic. Then I got on I-5 northbound. A parking lot. I watched as the guy behind me lost control of his car at one mile per hour and did a nice 180 spin in slow motion. The road was very slick, particularly in the exit lanes. Net result: nobody could/would exit. I then made a smart choice, I realized that I had a friend Jeff who

  • lived in the area
  • was freshly back from his vacation in Maui
  • was in possession of a 4WD Explorer
  • and liked driving in crappy weather

It was about this time that I realized my cell phone batter was really low and I didn’t bring my car charger. I called him, he was home, I told him to meet me at exit 289 (which I was approaching at 0.02mph), and I’d park my car somewhere safe, and we could come pick it up in the morning. This was also a very good idea, and not a mistake. Still, as I approached the exit 289, I saw a truck pulled off to the right of the exit lane, and a matching one just opposite on the left side, leaving a space about two car widths wide between the two. I watched as three different individuals in front of me tried to thread the needle. I watched as each spun out slowly, nearly crashing into one of both of the other two cars as they went sideways.

I decided not to run the gauntlet, and to try my luck at the next exit. In retrospect, I found this also not to be a mistake. Creeping along at a snails pace, it took me the better part of an hour to reach the next exit. I watched my precious cell phone battery usage, hoping that Jeff would call me back soon, especially since I hadn’t bothered to get his cell phone number. This was a mistake, but a harmless one. He did call, and said he was approaching exit 290. I told him he should exit, and wait to see if I could get off at that exit. A half an hour later, I managed to shift lanes over, and by driving in the gutter and slowly, slowly slowly creeping accross the exit lane, managed to get my car off the highway. Jeff was waiting for me at the Taco Bell.

The mistakes were over. We parked my rental in a residential neighborhood well out of harms way, and his 4WD Explorer and his DVD navigation system plotted an excellent non-I5 course back to my mom’s house. I picked up the car today, none the worse for wear.

Someday, I’ll have to relate the story of freezing rain that didn’t end so nicely.

For now, my thanks are with Jeff, and I’m having fun visiting with Mom and Kevin. Still, it will be good to be back to Carmen and Adam for Christmas.

Happy Holidays everyone, keep your cell phone charged and stay out of the freezing rain!