Ribbon of highway (thank you Woody Guthrie)

Pardon the picture quality, the iPad is not my best camera!

Pardon the picture quality, the iPad is not my best camera!

Just a couple of old hippies headed down I-5, as we each have done more times then our memories can hold, over a span of 35-40 years. Now there are more pit stops, stiff legs need more stretching, and for my tired body there is no comfortable position in the bucket seats of modern vehicles for a drive of an hour, let alone days. This is not one the marathons of the past and  youthful energy. Our destination tonight is Grants Pass, OR. Our goal: Nevada City, CA. We started later than we wanted, even getting going is slower!

We pull our trailer, but this is not our usual NW camping trip, if it were we’d be heading east to the mountains or beyond, west to the ocean, or, if going north or south we’d avoid I-5 when possible. I-5 is the route I least like driving in all the northwest, yet it is the main arterial of the west coast, the backbone that connects families and friends, commerce, and three diverse states that share two common bonds…..the Pacific Ocean and I-5. Driving it does bring memories of trips for pleasure, work, moving……with companions from the past, family, solos, or with a happy canine buddy. So many familiar landmarks, signs, businesses, a bend in the road, the rivers, and of course the distance mountains, where I’d rather be headed.

My first trip with Mike along this ribbon of highway was to our California wedding (we had a Washington wedding a week later).

image On September 13, 2001, we headed south to visit an elder friend in Klamath Falls, OR. Our trip diverted east, taking us off I-5 for part of the drive. The world had changed two days earlier. We observed and heard a range of reactions from people and communities to the terrorist attacks. Our friend died the day after our visit. Traffic on I-5 was lighter than usual

Most of you reading this have your own memories of this 4 to 6 lane expressway and where it has taken you.

The  first vehicle I bought on my own was a 1950 red Ford pick-up. Made the year I was born, I bought it from an elderly couple in rural Lane County, Oregon. They had bought it new, I bought it from them in ’72. They cried as I drove away in “their” truck, no doubt full of memories and stories of their life together. In the glove compartment, with the owners manual, was a map of Oregon and Washington. There was no I-5 on the map.

The first four and half years of my life, before moving east, my family lived in a house my parents had built near Jackson Park Golf Course in Seattle. It was a “modern” house by some architect whose name I have at home, but not here on the road. It was written up in the newspaper. Among my memories of living there were the times it would snow and I would accompany my older brothers across the street, through a wooded path to the golf course where we would sled down a to a creek. The location of that creek is where cars now drive 70 mph, or crawl in rush hour on I-5. There was no I-5 when we went sledding.

imageOn this trip I am grateful for this “high speed” freeway. (Back east they were called turnpikes and heading out on family trips we paid tolls every so many miles, I imagine it’s still that way, it’s been 42 years). The irony of this trip is I am headed to a week of Pancha Karma, the foundational healing protocal of Ayurveda, one of the oldest health care systems in the world. I am zipping down this modern concrete river of polluting cars, coughing now and then from some heavy exhaust spewing vehicle, so I can be cared for and coddled in the hope of bringing balance to a body that has forgotten how to sleep, whose immune forces are too weak, whose response to life’s stressors was cancer.

I think on the trip home we may follow the map sans I-5

. We just passed Hubbard, OR. No relation. My kin are Washington folks.

Feel free to share your own I-5 memories.


Excuse any awkwardness, first iPad posting, first writing in a car!

Later: almost there as sun goes down on the green hills of southern Oregon, by far one of the most beautiful sections of I-5.