Thursday, January 08, 2009

Ruthie in Portland, Oregon Update

I stayed for about a week in Ontario, Oregon and enjoyed myself tremendously.

And then, just when the time came to leave, a big storm blew in and dropped the temperature and snow...everywhere.

I walked from the library to the westbound ramp to Interstate 84 and shivered. The wind picked-up and the temperature on a local motel sign flashed "21 degrees."

I listened to country music on my radio, made breath circles with my mouth in the air and stuck out my thumb.

Three-and-a-half hours later, a big truck finally stopped and the driver took me all the way to a casino outside of Pendleton, Oregon.

By that time, I was at a much lower elevation, the temperature had risen to 40F and the driving snow had changed to a soaking rain.

After trying, unsuccessfully, to get a ride out of there...I decided to walk into Pendleton. And that's exactly what I did.

I walked down the shoulder of the dark interstate, sans flashlight (I lost it) approximately ten miles (yes, I said ten) to the Salvation Army office in downtown Pendleton. Cane and all.

When I got there, I collapsed (more or less) on a bench outside of the building. I was soaked to the skin and cold.

Did the head poo bah let me in for a cup of hot coffee/to change into dry clothes/eat breakfast/warm up for awhile?


He made me sit out on that bench with nothing. Finally, a young man who stays at that shelter brought me out a hot cup of Joe. Then I got inside after 11 a.m. and dried off, used the bathroom and ate lunch.

After lunch, I dragged my leg up to the local laundromat and re-washed and thoroughly dried my clothes.

Then I climbed up the high hill to the ramp (my legs were shaky and hurting from my long jaunt the night before) and stuck out my thumb.

A lady, who explained that she had just gotten the results of her cancer screening back (she tested positive for cancer) stopped and drove me to Stanfield, Oregon.

Then I shuffled down to the end of the ramp and sat on a guardrail. I watched a spectacular sunset and then a nice young man from the Boise, Idaho area stopped and picked me up. He drove me to Hood River where he stopped again and bought me dinner at a popular pizzeria. Then he drove me right to the warming center door in downtown Portland.

Thank God for favors great and small. Thank God for them all.

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