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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ruthie On The Road, Update--Part One

                                                    PHOTOS/EDITS BY RUTH RADER

I know that I have been missing from the Internet for awhile. That is because I have been on the road from Corvallis, Oregon to where I am tonight: Lewiston, Idaho.

I am drinking water that came all the way from Olfus Spring, Iceland. The manager of this motel is
doing my laundry and I have a mini box of white cheddar Cheez-it crackers that I haven't even opened
yet.

Tonight, life is good.



I am wearing my first sunburn of the Season. And I love how it works with my hat...so I now have a
two-tone face. I migrated up from Corvallis to Troutdale, Oregon on series of little buses. Then I put
out my thumb.

My first ride (in the evening) brought me back to Cascade Locks. I ended up on a bench next to a
café. But this time, no cop ever showed up. So I fell asleep until I got cold...and then I woke up and
shivered under my peace blanket until that café opened up in the morning.

I only had $4.75 but somehow the waitress turned it into a full-sized pancake, two perfectly poached
eggs, a hunk of sausage and several good hot cups of coffee. (Thank God for that coffee!)



Then I rolled my wheeler down the street, parked it where the rising sun would warm my shoulders and put out my thumb again. I barely remember the guy who picked me up but I do know that he
drove me to a rest area south of The Dalles, Oregon.

I was exhausted and my belly was full. The coffee had no effect on me. So I wandered over to a
picnic table, pulled my hoodie over my head, put my head on my blanket and fell asleep. The last
thing I remember was reading a sign that said: "Watch Out For Rattlesnakes."

VIDEO MESSAGE FROM REST AREA

When I finally woke up again, the sun was hanging low on the other side of the sky. So I moved
down to a table that was set in concrete and away from sprinklers and snakes. The free coffee
people came, I got a hot cup and then sat back down at my newly "adopted" table.

I listened to my Microsoft Groove music through my nifty ear buds and just rocked that seat, yo!

The next day, the wind started to blow. It blew Harder and HARDer and HARDER! The
app on my phone indicated that the wind was howling at a sustained speed of 40 miles per hour
with gusts up to 60. I was dirty, cold and in a bad mood. All I wanted to do was get out of there
but every vehicle kept on passing me by.

Finally, a young Black man stopped and helped me load my belongings and my wheeler into his
very nice car. He drove me to Biggs where I bought some groceries and then parked my wheeler
beside the road to Rufus, Oregon.

I ate a deli sandwich and shared my crackers with a little flock of seagulls. I intended to hitchhike
to Rufus...but instead I fell asleep in my wheeler.

A loud woman with good intentions woke me up and carted me down to Rufus where I tried
unsuccessfully to get a ride out. After the sun set, I parked my wheeler in front of another closed
café. Perched in my wheeler, I looked just like a badass owl...glaring at everyone while wrapped
up in my blanket.

An older couple walked up and asked me how I was doing.

"Terrible" was my response.

They bought me a cup of coffee at the gas station. Then they walked away into the night. Ten
minutes later, they returned in a big pickup and said, "Come on...we just got you a room for the
night."

What they purchased is probably the largest suite at that motel. The "room" includes a full-size kitchen, bathroom and two separate and large sleeping rooms with queen beds. I scrubbed,
slept and drove off with the same couple the next day.

It's been salmon chowder at Shari's and beany weenies eaten out of the can with a plastic fork
in a city park. Waking up in a motel room and wondering where I am. Rolling
down yet another road to a destination that still seems too far away.

The couple who cared for me in Rufus drove me past Walla Walla and dropped me off in the
little town of Dixie. I parked my wheeler in front of a high school building that has to be 100
years old. Then I put out my thumb but kept checking my peripheral vision for approaching
ghosts.

And then the van arrived...


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