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Friday, September 15, 2000

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Into Oregon and Washington

I get off at Redding for a quick pit stop. It's midnight and I'm woozy but my seatmate gets off here so I can stretch out and get some real rest. Another driver gets on to ride back home. We cross into Oregon, still on I-5, while I'm asleep. We got a new driver at Medford and now have three drivers as our Sacramento driver is also staying with the bus till Portland. I wake up at Eugene and feel much better. I was so very tired yesterday. I couldn't really sleep but just wanted to sit there with my eyes closed, but I also wanted to see everything so it was quite a struggle. After a good cup of coffee today I'm ready to go.

We take OR-34 and US-20 into Corvaliis and then OR-34 and OR-99E to Albany. We cross an old metal bridge at Corvallis that is rusted with faded green paint. On one side of the bridge is a wooden sidewalk. The bridge looks like it was made with a very old erector set. I went to sleep in the Sacramento delta and woke up to bucolic farms with pine covered hills and heavily loaded lumber trucks. The sky is cloudy and even at full daylight everyone has their headlights on.

The Albany bus stop is at an Albany transit stop. We pass vineyards and more lumber trucks. Everything is so green. We take OR-22 into Salem and I see the state capital. At Salem they used the lift to put on a guy in a wheelchair. It takes up six seats as they have to shove seats together to make room. I think it's great that people in wheelchairs can also take the bus now. All three drivers were helping but our driver said that it was fairly common anymore. I expect it's used more in the northwest and other places where there are shorter runs, unlike Arizona. This is the first time I've seen it. We also have a blind lady in the seat across from me and the driver is very good about helping her on and getting her settled.

The guy behind me is discussing how his aids is progressing, ok it seems. He's even thinking about going back to work. There are half a dozen small children on the bus. This whole trip there have been more little kids than I've seen before on buses. There are people going into Portland to shop. This seems to be a regular thing for many of the people.

We take US-26 and I-405 into Portland. This is a very large bus station with not that many people in it. I get some breakfast and change clothes and feel so much better. A large cup of coffee in my bottle and I'm ready to take off again. A blind guy is sitting next to me. The retired schoolteacher, across the aisle, has a young african american girl as a seatmate. She's from africa but has lived in the US for years and talks like a native american speaker. We chat all the way to Seattle with stops for napping.

We cross the Columbia River into Washington and I-5 follows the Columbia north till it turns west to the Pacific. Vancouver is a very clean looking town, with upscale leanings. Kelso has a combined train and bus station that are very nice. US-12 joins us for a while till it heads west also to the Olympic Peninsula. The Centralia bus stop is at a Texaco station. We wander through Fort Lewis to a bus stop wih no one there. Tacoma is a very interesting looking town wih old brick buildings and a very unusual looking bridge. There are two tall center posts with what look like steel posts going down to the bridge in a spreading pattern.

Finally we pull into Seattle. I get in line for the Northwestern Lines bus that I'll take to Everett. Our first stop is at Amtrak and the train is late but then we're heading north on I-5 after wandering through downtown Seattle. It looks so much like San Franciso with all the hills. We get in the express lanes that carry you through town and spit you out up north. We only hit rush hour traffic after we leave the express lane and are only half an hour late getting into Everett where my son in waiting for me. We follow WA-526, past the enormous Boeing buildings, and WA-525 to Mukilteo.

It's so good to see him and his wife Lauri. Lauri's sister is visiting so we have a nice family visit and a good seafood meal as we watch the Mukilteo ferry unload and load several times. I keep going on about how green everything is, and it is beautiful, without all the mosquitos you get in the east, though there are some. I am so tired that I fall asleep as soon as my head it the pillow.

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(c) Rachel Aschmann 2000.
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