(Wilsonville, OR) — Oh, what a day. I left my little home-on-the-road, The Amber Inn Motel in Bliss, Idaho this morning a little after five. I’d been asked to take a bit of a side trip, to Sisters, Oregon, which is a few miles from Bend. My mission: show the bus to the Transportation Director of the Sisters School System.
Before I go any farther, I want to mention this: Remember the other day, I had my THIRD Room 103 during this trip? Huh? Remember that? Last night in Bliss, Idaho, I had Room 11. But tonight, what room do I have? Room 301. Three 103’s and one 301. Could it be just coincidence????? Yes.
Rarely during these bus delivery trips do I get far from an Interstate. They’re predictable, they’re fast, and I know where all the truck stops are. I have my Pilot/Flying J Professional Driver’s Card, which, if I buy enough Diesel fuel, will get me a free shower or a Cinnabon or something someday.
Anyway, the only way to get to Sisters from Bliss (there’s a joke in there somewhere, but I’m too tired to think of it,) you get off I-84, and drive approximately 30-thousand miles on US Rt. 20 across the state. Along the way is some of the most beautiful scenery in the world: Snow-capped mountains, babbling brooks (I’m just assuming they babble. School buses are noisy beasts, and I couldn’t hear the babbling.) And more snow-capped mountains. And… uh… brooks. It was a beautiful day, temperatures in the 50s and a bright blue sky.
I’m not appreciating all this beauty in the proper way, though. I still have all those depressing thoughts about my crumbled marriage, the state of my life in general, and whether that photo of Cindy Crawford was photoshopped rumbling around in my head. And after 100 or so miles of this, It just makes me want to scream sometimes.
At one point today, I pulled the bus over next to a stream. I was surrounded by open range (it’s before I got to the mountains) and I just stood there, awed by the sheer nothingness… and the perfect silence. For a minute. Then, all the thoughts that accompany me all the time kicked in, and I climbed back in the driver’s seat, started the bus, and went back on the road.
A few hours later, I was in Bend, Oregon. It’s one of the most beautiful little cities I’ve ever seen. Sisters is just a few miles north of Bend, and Route 20 goes directly through the heart of town on the way. The one thing I didn’t like about Bend was the traffic circles. I have no problem with them normally, but in Bend, they overdid it a bit. I counted 8 of them. Okay, well, I didn’t count. But I think there were 8. Or 10. Maybe 4. Anyway, tiny traffic circles are fine if you’re zipping around them in a Prius or a SmartCar, which most Bendians seem to do. But a 40-foot school bus is different. In a school bus, traffic circles are a pain in the ass. After a few of them, it makes the driver of said school bus want to drive THROUGH the traffic circle, on a direct path to his or her destination, rather than the “Pardon-me-you-go-first-no-YOU-go-first” crap that goes with a traffic circle.
Anyway, I got to Sisters, Oregon a little after lunchtime, and presented the bus to the Transportation Director of the school system. He was accompanied by a couple of mechanics… all of whom were very nice people. And if there’s a more beautiful town in America than Sisters, Oregon, I have yet to see it. They looked over the bus to see if they wanted to buy a six-pack (or however buses are sold) of them for the town.
Then… a few hundred miles of even better scenery, and again, beauty which I failed to properly appreciate because of the aforementioned stuff.
I have to deliver the bus tomorrow in Lakewood, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. I’m looking forward to meeting an old friend there as well. But tonight, I couldn’t get any farther than Wilsonville, Oregon, a few miles south of Portland.
Tonight is Domino’s night. I have one Domino’s night per trip. When I get to an overnight stop, I’m exhausted. And I can’t go taking that 40-foot school bus around town looking for a place to eat. So it’s either what I bring, something I can walk to, or something that can be delivered. I order online because it’s just easier, and I have a “Domino’s Pizza Profile!” That means I can click on the Pizza Tracker, which actually tracks your order from start to finish. At the end of the process, you’re provided with information such as, “Tyler left with your order at 5:39.”
That’s the message I received tonight. So when Tyler arrived, I put on my most menacing face, and cocked my eyebrow. I opened the door and said, in my heaviest radio drama voice, “Tyler. I’ve been expecting you.” He sort of giggled. And then he handed me the credit slip and a pizza. I handed him a tip. Then I closed the door, cracked a small bottle of Chardonnay, and turned on the TV.