Kindness of Strangers

8 03 2011

Oh boy, you will never believe what I got myself into this time.  Actually, the story lies in what I got out of….

Saturday morning, two hours of sorting through my junk so I can pack it.  I need coffee and I need it NOW.  So I pull on my oldest jeans, tennies (no socks), and a tee, grab my baseball cap and keys, and dash out the door.  Its a beautiful morning and I decide to drive to the Dutch Brothers on 3rd St instead of the closer one on Century.

As I’m cruising across downtown, I can see two of the three Sisters.  Despite the clouds, its a nice morning.  Once my medium soy annihilator is securely tucked into my cup holder, I keep driving. When was the last time I took a nice little drive?  So windows down, radio up, I head out of town, just happy to see the lines flashing by.

I stop at the viewpoint on Hwy 20 that faces the Sisters.  Man I love these mountains.  I can’t see Washington or Three Fingered Jack, but Jefferson peeks above the clouds behind Black Butte.  So good.  I’m feeling a bit sentimental and nostalgic….  So I keep going.  I’ll just go to Sisters, I think.

Sisters is bustling.  I turn left on a road I haven’t gone down before.  Hm, I wonder where this goes.  So I keep going.  Man this coffee is delicious. The Deschutes Forest around Sisters is just wonderful.  I love the tall trees.  And this road is really cool, winding up the foothills, through cool lava flows.

I top a ridge that overlooks the valley across to the other mountains.  Whoa.  Now that’s a view.  What a fantastic road!  I wonder what else is down here!  So I keep going.

Soon I start to see snow and realize how much altitude I’ve gained.  Well, of course, I’m heading west toward the Three Sisters Wilderness.  Up is the only logical direction.  And the snow is so pretty after the crummy weather we’ve been having in Bend.  But the day is warming up; snow is falling from the trees and rolling down the slope toward the road.  It makes the coolest tracks.  What else is down here?

Soon, I realize there’s actually a lot of snow.  I mean a lot of it.  Around the next curve, the road starts getting snowy, too.  Not bad snow, but snow all the same.  Good thing my car does well in the snow.  A couple more curves and I no longer see asphalt through the white.  Hm.  Maybe I should turn around.  I mean, I haven’t seen another car since I left Sisters.  This would be a horrible place to get stuck.  So I start looking for a place to turn around.  Another couple curves and more altitude gained, I realize there is no where to turn around.  Oh, man, how funny would it be to reverse back the several miles I’d come?!   Hahaha…ha…..hm.

There are tracks in the snow.  Someone else has come down this road.  Those people were going somewhere.  So there has to be a parking lot or SOMETHING and I’ll be able to turn around.  I keep going, just knowing I can’t be wrong about this.  The snow, though a little deeper, still isn’t causing any problems for driving.  I slow down anyway, but keep going.

Still singing to the radio, I realize I’ve gone a good ways.  The snow is deep on the other side of the road, deep enough that if a vehicle came from the other direction, we might be in trouble.  Good thing there are no other cars…

As I pass one turn-off after another piled with untouched snow, I actually start to worry a bit.  I’m heading farther up, into deeper snow, higher into the mountains….but surely there is something at the end of this road!!  I will not give up!!

Right as I’m about to give up, I see a sign: “Gate ahead.”  Oh boy.  This will either be really good or really bad…As I approach what appears to be a dead end, the trees open to the left – a parking lot!  I KNEW it! Holy cow, I’m flipping brilliant.

I pull in, so proud of myself I’m grinning like an idiot.  Whipping around to the left next to the last parked car, my tires slide a bit and I stop so I don’t hit the car.  I put it in reverse and move about 2 inches before the spinning starts.  Uh oh.  I throw it in drive and turn the wheels.  Another 2 inches, and back to the spinning.  Shoot.  Reverse. Drive. Reverse.  SHOOT.  I step out to assess the damage, immediately regretting the lack of socks as I sink in the snow.

Buried to the bumper.  Awesome.  Super.  Do I have a shovel?  Heck no.  I find my mega ice scraper and attempt to dig around my tires a bit.  I’m sopping wet up to my knees already.

Wait! I have chains! If I can just get my chains on, I should be able to get out!  I rip the tag off and open the shiny new bag.  Hm.  This is easy, right?  I lay the instructions out on the ground.  I need to get the main piece wrapped around the tire.  There’s too much snow and my car is too low to the ground.  It doesn’t help that I can’t use my left hand.  Stupid cast.

I kick my tire in frustration and start walking.  The parking lot is full.  Someone must be around who could give me a hand.  About 6 cars down is a camper.  I walk around and a guy is standing there packing up.

“Hi, excuse me?”  He turns around.  “Oh hey!  What’s up?  How are you?”

“Actually not so hot.  My car is stuck.  Buried actually.”  He looks down at my soaked jeans.  I (for some unknown reason) then proceed to spin this ridiculous story about my friends meeting some guys and wanting to come up here to go snowmobiling, and then needing me to pick them up, but now they aren’t even here and I’m stuck and pissed.   Where did that came from….?!

So he starts laughing, tells me he just unhooked his truck and has a chain and he’s just positive he can pull me out.  Then he asks if I want to go riding with them.  Yeah!  His girlfriend is sick and can’t go, and its no fun alone and I really should just stay!

With a heavy sigh, I explain to him how I don’t have any clothes or gear, and I really just need to get home.  So instead of playing on snowmobiles with a bunch of strangers for the rest of the day, this kind gentleman hooks a gigantic chain to the hooks my car thankfully has under the back bumper, and yanks the Mazda from her icy prison.  I offer all two dollars in my wallet, a number so I can buy him a beer, anything to try to repay his kindness.  He just laughs and asks if I’m sure I don’t want to ride.  I decline, give him a hug, and give my best wishes for a speedy recovery to his girl.

The drive back wasn’t as exciting.  I didn’t even sing very loud to the radio.

How frikin’ lucky was that?!  So dear anonymous stranger that saved my rear:  thanks!!

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