When I arrived in Oregon, I attempted to find a reasonably priced hotel room in a nearby city, Eugene. This is because I did not want to spend the night in Portland Oregon given the recent problems with crime in the area. To my surprise, the first three hotels that I checked were all booked. Even my first choice, which was the Marriott, had nothing left except for a family suite which was unnecessarily more expensive than what I needed.
After a while, I finally found a room on the outskirts of town at a quaint lodge. It was a retreat of sorts and it too was a bit expensive, but it looked appealing, so I booked my room there. When I arrived, there were many people and families checking in. A hustle and bustle that seemed out of place given that I did not expect to see this many people in a one-horse town. The receptionist explained to me that it was because of this being a Memorial Day weekend. She said that I was lucky to get any room at all and for that I felt grateful.
I was a late check-in, and I asked for a 7:30 wake-up call so that I could get an early start. The room was clean, comfortable, and even had a balcony overlooking a beautiful courtyard garden. The atmosphere was much more pleasant than the Holiday Inn or a similar cookie-cutter style hotel. This was the type of place that I would have liked to have spent more time in. I would have liked to have spent a few days or a week just enjoying the ambiance and listening to the grand piano that was in the lobby or sitting in front of the fireplace. It reminded me of the lodge on the TV show Twin Peaks. It was dreamy and nostalgic at the same time.
In my room, I set up my laptop and got to work completing my college assignments for the week. It entailed doing research and watching videos on the subject matter. It ended up taking me much longer than I expected which ultimately would permit me only a few hours of sleep. When I was done, I hurried to bed and closed my eyes for what seemed like a moment before the phone rang. It was my 7:30 wake-up call. I packed my bags and put my luggage in the car for the last leg of my journey to Seattle.
As I checked out, a very pleasant front desk receptionist, who I will affectionately call Gertrude, accepted my room key and handed me a receipt. There was no need for any additional conversation. However, I began a dialogue with Gertrude.
I exclaimed that I was happy with this resort and that I might visit it again on my way back home. She then inquired as to where I was going. I replied that I was going to Seattle Washington. She asked: “What would you like to do when you get to Seattle dear?” I told her that I had always wanted to see the Space Needle and ride on a ferry boat so that I could enjoy the Northern Lights from the Pacific Ocean. The elderly woman smiled with a glow on her face.
She then explained that she had always wanted to do the same, saying that she could get on the Amtrack and ride it to Seattle to fulfill her dream. She said that she never has and that she does not know if she ever will. That is because she had always been too busy with one thing or another, putting it off until tomorrow. Now that many tomorrows had come and gone, those wishful plans had seemed to turn into a missed opportunity of something beautiful that could have been if only things had turned out a little bit different. I offered her encouragement and said that it’s never too late. I mentioned that I had planned my trip for over a year before embarking on it.
She then told me that she was in her senior years and that if she had not done it by now and left Eugene Oregon that she doubts she ever will. She told me that she hopes I have a wonderful, safe journey and that I enjoy the things that she will not get to see. At the same time, I felt joy that I was continuing with my experience and a disappointment that my encouragement most likely would not produce results for her.
This is when I experienced an epiphany with understanding that my drive across the country, as opposed to a plane flight, was worth it. I had experienced the country in a unique way during an unprecedented time in history. I saw the good and the bad. I embraced all my experiences as something new and challenging with optimism. Even when things did not go the way that I anticipated, I viewed it as the way of the road that unfolds before a person.
I then went to breakfast at a local eatery. The waiter was pleasant and jovial. He brought my meal and upon placing it on the table he asked, “is everything close to what you wanted?” I smiled and replied yes, it is. I really liked his question because this was a man who understood that life is not perfect. Had he asked me if my breakfast was perfect, I most likely would have replied no that the toast was a bit too well done or the coffee was a touch too hot, but he was realistic in his questions and expectations.
He was cheerful and bright spreading enthusiasm and joy to the patrons who were beginning their day. He reminded me exactly of Cam from Modern Family! He looked and spoke like Cam, and he also appreciated the deeper meaning of life as did Cam. This was another experience that I enjoyed because I was able to take something away from this breakfast beside a filling meal.
As I headed out onto the highway, once again I was awestruck and pleasantly surprised with a magnificent steal sculpture of a dragon. I pulled the car onto the shoulder of the road and got out to enjoy the fresh air and the view. This beautiful steel dragon sculpture was right in front of Mount Shasta, and it was fun stopping to get a picture with it :)