Sunday, October 16, 2011


Our old steam locomotive did it's best, but it had to stop several times on the trip back to cool it's ancient bearings, which meant we didn't arrive in Fort Bragg until almost 4 PM.  I'd planned on heading up the coast on Highway 1 after the train ride, stopping along the way to admire the trees in the Redwood National Forest before staying overnight in Grants Pass, Oregon.  As it was, we were going to be lucky if we made it as far as Eureka, CA before dark.  Not only that, I was getting increasingly anxious about my car.  It had started so far, however reluctantly, but I was slowly becoming resigned to the fact that it was just going to be a matter of time before the old thing was going to conk out. 

What should have been a leisurely tour of the giant trees turned out to be just the opposite.  Leaving the motor running we would jump out of the car, take a picture with a massive tree, drive down the road and take another picture all the while nervously keeping an eye on our idling car.  We finally gave up after an unsatisfying half trip through The Valley of the Giants, dilapidated old redwoods so ready to fall over that they had to be propped up with cables.  After a couple of pictures with these sad tourist attraction relics, we decided that we'd better get to civilization while it was still light. 

If you look carefully, Audrey is in this picture!

With unbelievable gratitude we pulled into a nice Comfort Inn in Eureka for the night.  Next morning, the car struggled more than usual to start and we knew we were on borrowed time now.  I just  prayed  we would make it to White Salmon that day.  It had hung in with us this far.

We had to make one last stop for gas in Eugene, Oregon.  Us chickens loaded up on soda and prepackaged sandwiches and steeled ourselves for one more start of the car.  Now throughout the whole trip, Audrey had been consoling me saying, "It's OK, Mom.  It'll start."  But, when she turned the key this time--- nothing.  No sound.  For the first time in the entire trip, I felt a calm faith in the old thing and I encouraged her to try again.  As if rallying one more time before giving up the ghost for good, it somehow found the strength to start.  We could not believe it.  We drove straight through to White Salmon and parked the car in front of Michael and Shelly's house.  It never started again.  A couple of weeks later it was towed into the garage where a new ignition was installed.  God bless that old clunk.

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