The Road is Never What We Expect

I left all my keys (apartment and U-Haul lock) in the rental van when I returned it. I’d been worn down by a sinus infection, a busy week, and moving. It was only back at the apartment nearly an hour later when I realized what I’d done. I took a Lyft to the airport, the shuttle bus to the rental car location (because I have no idea how to get there any other way), got the keys, returned by shuttle bus, and took a cab back to my apartment to get my stuff. I want to thank the manager who helped me. She literally ran in two different directions to find the keys and was able to get them to me in less than ten minutes. I was too panicked to get her name. Without her, I all of that may have been for nothing.

Maybe in a month or two I’ll be comfortable talking about how symbolic this was and how I was in survival mode the entire time I was dealing with it. For today, know I’m aware there were better ways to deal with the situation.

Like watching the mad dash in Home Alone, a couple friends were trying to get me to the station on time. We were three minutes late. The conductor was not having any of my I’ll be fast pleadings and instructed me to go online to change my reservatation.

One of the friends mothered me through the process of eating (because that’s been rough), checking the schedule (because I couldn’t think clearly), and then running errands I didn’t think I could get to before leaving town. After I was bathed, I was tucked in a bed with something to knock me out. Let’s be honest, that was the only way I was getting any sleep. I kept remembering winter 2016/17 when I missed how many planes out of the Midwest? If you know, don’t tell me. I don’t like to remember it. That was a dark and costly time.

I ended up spending a little extra money to leave first thing in the morning. It was worth it. I wandered around Portland with old and new friends while introducing them to each other. Sometimes we get a chance to help make connections and it usually makes the world a little better.

I went to the main branch of the Portland Public Library. The marble stairs there are amazing and I kept wondering what/who decided how many stairs in which style before changing again. I also laid down under a dome. Anyone who’s been with me in such a situation knows the awkwardness of waiting for me to finish doing this in public. My friend held up like a champ even though she’d never experienced it before.

My train from Portland followed the Columbia River as it cut across Washington and Oregon. I’d never driven it except in the Richland, WA area. It’s gorgeous and I managed to catch one last glimpse of Mt. Rainier as I was leaving. That one glimpse made everything feel permanent. Up to then I had been phrasing things dramatically about my last this and that, but it hadn’t felt like I was actually leaving. It felt like I was hoping to leave.  So, it felt like it’s felt for about six years of living in Seattle. Now, things feel very calm because I’ve left. So, phrasing is simpler. I just moved away from Seattle. Don’t ask about a forwarding address. I’m still figuring out how to talk about that.

I’m not going to talk a lot about the conversations on the train. At some point, some of them will make it in here, but for now it’s enough to know they’re happening. I even befriended a train conductor the first night who had hot water sitting out for me all night and told me where to cross the DO NOT ENTER sign to get it. He loved that I was traveling with Haribo gummy bears sticking out of my pack.

West Glacier started out upsetting right after I got off the train. There was no shuttle coming to take me to the ranger station. A woman working at the National Park store thought it would be back around in a little over an hour, so I walked over to where I thought I could catch it. I found the schedule. I waited until the scheduled time. The person caring for the flowers talked to me about where to hike the best areas of the park. It was wonderful, except I knew my trip wouldn’t allow me to reach any of them and the bus never came. About ten minutes after it was scheduled to arrive, I audibly cursed, rearranged my pack and started walking. I knew it would be about two miles to get to the station, but I had no idea if the road would be steep or pedestrian accessible.

The road was flat and pedestrian accessible-ish. A couple hundred feet beyond the gate I found a bicycle path to take to the village instead of walking along the road. It was great. I whistled a bit to ensure I wouldn’t sneak up on any bears. Sometimes there were other people and I didn’t worry quite as much. It was too late in the day for backcountry options, but they directed me to the drive in campground and I found a spot. I was sharing with another walk in person, but I couldn’t get them to respond if it was okay to share. The ranger was certain it was. I never saw them. As I was finishing lunch, they zipped a zipper and watched some videos on their phone. The only way I had of knowing they’d left the tent at all was because they’d grabbed their bottle of wine off the picnic table. I’m sure they were relieved when they woke up and all of my stuff was gone.

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