A week ago, I started to write about the Christmastime road trip. This introduction never even made it back to its original point, which it probably will in the silliest blog post title I may ever write - Introduction Part Two. Since it's lengthy, and since a week has gone by, I'm going to publish it as is.
The end is a good time to reflect on the beginning and everything that has happened since. The reflective end of our Christmas trip arrived at dinner in Boise at a Basque place called Bar Gernika.
[Ed. note: Stay tuned for Part Two, when I finally get back to this point!]
The city of Handsome Man's provenance is a drive of less than twenty hours from Portland. HM and I both enjoy road trips; the topic of discussion the night he wooed me and asked me out was road trips we had both taken and the role these had in our decisions to move to Portland. The last time we flew to Colorado, I became so frustrated on the plane that I drew pictures of all of the reasons that driving would be preferable to flying. That collage still exists somewhere in a currently misplaced "to-be-scanned-and-written-about" pile. My logic was that we can't just hop on a plane when we're ready, but we can hop in the car whenever we want. If we get out of work at 6pm and already have the car packed and ready to go, we can leave right from work and be there by 2pm the next day, if we drive straight through. But if we have to wait until the next morning to get on a plane, and if we have a connecting flight in Seattle, and we have to wait in between flights, and then there's the drive from Denver to HM's home town and if that falls during rush hour traffic...well, by the time we've gotten to our destination, it's actually been more than twenty hours!
Driving a thousand miles can be exhausting, but so can artfully cramming breakables into a suitcase and ensuring your toiletries are in plastic baggies and sitting in a tiny seat breathing recycled air next to a flatulent iPhone addict who has no respect for the armrest that is rightfully yours or the flight attendants' constant requests to turn that fucking phone off while we're in the air. The energy expended on the passive aggressive battle for the armrest is equivalent to at least 200 miles of car time.
In September, HM set out on a road trip home of his own. While I stayed in Portland (and my mommy came to visit), he drove himself to Colorado in one day. He left in the morning and arrived in the middle of the night. With only one driver, he did not stop for the night. With two drivers, this seemed an even more likely undertaking. We estimated the cost of the trip based on the cost of gas at $4.00/gallon with the gas mileage of the car on the low side, and came up with a total cost of travel at less than half the cost of a plane ticket for just one of us. This allowed for a stop at a hotel, which could cost as little as the airline's fee to bring two suitcases on the plane.
So we began to plan. We factored in extra driving time, in case of Christmas traffic or winter weather. We checked the weather a week before our set departure, and every subsequent day. Each day brought the same reassurance -- cold but clear weather all along I-80 and I-84, except for a 20% chance of snow showers in between Eastern Idaho and Western Wyoming. We planned as an extra precaution to take I-80 past Laramie, past the direct route through potentially-icy mountain roads, to I-25 in Cheyenne.
And yet, despite our planning, it was the road trip that almost wasn't. The night before we were set to leave for Colorado, the weather forecast changed. The 20% chance of snow showers had become a chance of snowstorms in Northern Utah and Western Wyoming. We were prepared, however. We could prepare for anything! We mapped out a few alternate routes, including a scenic northern route through Montana which would only take us an extra four hours. Counterintuitively, we would encounter less winter weather in Montana. We went to bed that night having not completely made up our minds, opting to worry about it in the morning or perhaps at some point on I-84 in Oregon that would enable us to divert north.
And then the morning of our departure, Handsome Man discovered that during the night - the four hours after he went to bed at 1am and I woke up at 5am - someone had smashed the back windshield of his car and taken our suitcases which contained nothing valuable to a thief, but all of our clothing. Not just all of the clothing we'd packed, but a good proportion of the clothing we both owned. And winter is a bad time to travel without a back windshield.
Despite potential bad omens, we cleaned up the glass, got the back windshield replaced, repacked our bags with what remained in our closets, and set out, only seven hours later than scheduled, for I-90 and the northern route to Colorado. We made it to our hotel in Northern Idaho later that night. An evening nearly a week later would find us in Idaho again, headed home this time and reflecting. [Ed note: reflecting over delicious paella and croquetas, but more on that next time!]