I have been anticipating this past weekend for some time now. Tony and I were planning a trip to Baker City, Oregon to complete a rather mundane task, picking up some beams that Tony plans to use to shade a budding nesting area on the hill in our backyard. To some a six hour round trip flanked by another round trip to Dayton to deliver children and pick up a borrowed pick-up and trailer might seem like a chore. For me, 7 total hours of conversation with the love of my life is pure delight.
Well the plan was simple. Awaken early, drive to Dayton, enjoy a lovely and balanced breakfast that my mother would prepare, exchange the a gift of grandparents to our children with the gift of serenity in a lengthy car ride for us, hitch up the trailer and off we would go. I anticipated the layered conversation to accompany breathtaking views as we traveled up Cabbage Hill and through the winding tree-lined roads. We would talk, we would laugh, we would marvel the wonders of parenthood, we would commit to do better, be better, live better, and by way of disconnecting from others we would reconnect with each other. We would be home by five, early enough to guiltlessly languish over dinner and then out to a movie. We would wake up late and have breakfast out then go to Dayton to enjoy the outdoors and the company of my parents while we bucked bales and ate BBQ.
We left home a half hour late but knew it would be easy to make up the time. We scarfed down gigantic whip cream and chocolate laden buttermilk pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs and I waddled outside on my best date-ready-peep-toe heels? With Grammie gone to a funeral, Aidan took advantage of the indoor solitude to simultaneously watch TV and play his DS game while Nadia, pinging from her sugar high, learned the value of righty-tighty, lefty-loosey as she helped Papa Ike change a flat on the trailer. We loaded a spare and laughed a little as my dad offered us a second spare, just in case. The tail lights on the trailer were giving Tony some trouble and even though we headed down the worn Main Road just two hours past our anticipated departure, we knew we would still make it home before dark.
We were sucked in so fast we were not able to veer enough to make our connection, our conversation was stifled by the enjoyable audible copy of The Lost Symbol, and while the story was captivating it was not a suitable replacement for the conversation I had imagined. The flub-bub sound of tire tread flopping down the road was enough to tear us from the story and on an exit to Wildhorse Casino we gingerly pulled the borrowed truck's trailer up onto a fallen speed sign to utilize the spare. Our breathtaking vista was overshadowed by the breathtaking anxiety simmering between a ticking clock, no spare and the responsibility of borrowing a truck. As we heard the unmistakable sound for the second time we nodded to give Schwab-ies some of our green to get us back up and running in LaGrande.
As we lumbered through Baker City's historic downtown we had calmed enough to appreciate the restored homes and, beyond the Main street, the curving countryside, that is until we reached the craigslist fella's home. It sat beyond the top of a very steep, very slippery, very sheer, hillside. Being of a modern age we flipped out our phone to call on him. There is not cell coverage against a sheer wall of rock apparently. With me in my heels, I did not want to trek up the hill on foot, so we drove. That is to say we held onto any solid surface we could find inside the truck while praying that our trusty eight wheels would cling to the round rocks that lay the exact width of the axle and moved ever so slowly up, back, up, back and up until we got to the top. And there we sat with the realization that we just climbed up an anonymous hill without leaving directions, phone numbers or name of the potential Mr. Crazy who made his home where only the invited dare come. I wrote my children each a dying note on a scrap of receipt while I sent my loving husband out to meet Mr. Crazy himself. Mr. Crazy ambled out of the tin-clad home and into his Caterpillar tractor while Tony got back into the car and started back down the cliff. (I had my little notes as peace of mind to clutch this time in case it was the cliff that got us instead of Mr. Crazy). The two men-folk, with the aid of the front loading Cat, loaded the long awaited beams onto the back of the trailer on the flattest little flood plane at the bottom of the hill. I, in my heels, didn't get out to help.
We were then 3 1/2 hours past schedule. The sun was slipping. The lights were still not working. My pancakes were digested. My belly was waiting for dinner. My parched lips were waiting for water. But the light was fading and the anxiety of meeting the front end of a car with the light-less back-end of the trailer, or worse, a too helpful State Trooper was pushing us forward. We stopped ever so briefly back in Wildhorse to get a boring McD's burger, some diesel and two lame little plastic gold emblazoned flipping mice as PrePrizes. We pushed on and as we slid into Kennewick we did meet Mr. Helpful State Trooper. He gave us a warning for the lights, a reminder that the truck tabs are due, a little lecture on the legalities of choosing to go home anyway or the possibility of theft, and a mild heart attack as we realized that we never asked my Dad where the insurance or registration cards might be. Feeling like teenagers who borrowed the car without asking, we called my dad to tell him. Tony wiggled the lights and got the hazards to work. We were done taking chances so my brother came to tailgate us home. I ate every cookie I could find when I got home and woke up at 5:30 the next morning.
I am sure that as the days grow shorter and then longer again, and the pergola looms protectively over my family I will romanticize this trip and remember it closer to the plan than the reality.
For now I have a pile of beams to shake my head at.