THE BIG MOVE TO WALLOWA
By Kat Stickroth
Having kenneled my pets Brownie and Mosie in Joseph, I flew from Portland to my hometown, and sorted through my belongings. Every five minutes I asked myself, “Why do I have so much STUFF?”
I warily monitored the weather between me and northeast Oregon, for I had been warned, “Once winter rolls in, you may not make it back until spring.”
A winter storm descended on the West of such magnitude the initial use of “Polar Vortex” was established by The Weather Channel. I grew anxious with each passing day of watching TV, where semi-trailer trucks slid off highways. An extended separation from Brownie was worrisome, for we had never been apart this long.
On week four, a ten day period of clear skies was forecasted as the polar vortex moved east. I hastily reserved the rental truck.
My helpers were my niece and two self-employed brothers who called their business “Stress-Free Moving.” Perhaps enamored with an old lady on an adventure, their questions and jokes indicated they had formed my own personal fan club.
If someone complains, “Young people don’t know how to work anymore,” I challenge that. Unsupervised, these two kids did a great job in packing and loading the truck.
Soon after leaving my home, with a portrait of Sacagawea emblazoned on the side of the truck, I nestled within a convoy of large semis. It was fun to be sitting so high behind such a powerful engine. At a stopover I texted my fan club, “I found my Inner Truck Driver” and cracked up at their responses.
After filling up at an unmanned gas station at Potter, Nebraska, I discovered my keys were locked in the vehicle.
I had just passed through a terrible dirt storm (not dust storm) with poor visibility and was already rattled. Tumbleweeds floated past as the wind whistled overhead. There was no one or any vehicles in sight. I gathered my thoughts and started walking toward a seemingly deserted town.
I came upon a tavern where a handful of ranchers were eating lunch. It took a few hours, but soon I was back on the road. Make no mistake. Regardless of what you see on television, there are still good people in our country.
Originally published October 21, 2015 in the La Grande Observer newspaper. Reprinted with permission.