My son Nik has recently started driving down to Portland from Poulsbo, and it's been sort of hit or miss sometimes. The first time he came down he ended up on the Westside which wasn't good because I live on the Eastside. I was waiting for him to show up with my friend G. and was starting to freak out. He was totally lost and we were talking to him on the cell phone and trying to figure out where the hell he was. We were driving around Portland trying to follow Nik's clues and basically hitting deadends. He didn't realize he was on the wrong side of the river even though he's been down to Portland many times. G. finally told him to pull over, go find a land mark, and wait for us. Nik gets out of the car, takes a look around and tells us that there is a brick building for rent. That's our landmark. We finally figured out that he was over by Portland State and had him follow us back over the Marquam bridge to get him over to my place. I was a complete wreck that day. We didn't make it to the retreat that year because Nik didn't want to have to drive the three hours to Redmond.
So this year Nik makes it down to Portland fine, and we're planning on taking his car to Eagle Crest near Redmond. We run errands, get everything packed up in his car, and make it from 16th to 82nd avenue and then his car overheats. The meter totally goes into the red, and so we pull over to figure out what's going on. Of course the weather decides to be kind and it starts pouring. We lift up the hood and see coolant all over his car engine. It's also totally overflowing from the jug or whatever it is that you call the thing where the coolant lives. So Nik grabs a towel and starts wicking it out. We let the car cool down and get back in and take a right on 82nd and onto Powell. We figured it would be a straight shot, and would be able to limp back to my place and grab my car.
No such luck, we end up pulling into a Bridgestone service center. Nik goes in and they tell him they can do a stress test in about 30-40 minutes, but he'll have to hang out there. So I catch the bus down to my place, go get my car, go get lunch for us because now it's about 2:00pm. I get over to the place, and after waiting for them to do the test they tell us that we need to replace two hoses and it will cost $28.00 per hose and for them to fix it would be $300.00 including an oil change and a flush. Nik loses it at this point, so I tell the guy to give us the info on the parts and we limp back to my place. Nik is now pissed off not only about the car, but about the fact that we can't take off right away because we're hitting traffic hour on Friday, and we're going to have to wait a while to take off. We can't stay at my place because they've started tearing the bathroom apart being that I told them we'd be out of town over the weekend.
After trying to figure out what to do, and Nik getting more pissed off by the minute I call G. and ask if we can come over and time ourselves out at his place for a while. Being the incredibly generous and understanding person that he is he lets us hang out while he's finishing his nap and getting ready for work. We hang out for a couple hours until traffic dies down a little and then head out.
Traffic had not died down and it took forever to get even to Sandy, but we made it over the pass and into Redmond at about 10:00pm. In the meantime I'm freaking out because I can't get ahold of my mom to let her know what's going on. Finally my brother calls on his cell phone and I can relay that we're way behind. By the time I hit Redmond I'm exhausted and stressed out. Just as we get ready to turn right off the main drag within 10 minutes of our destination a cop pulls me over and tells me that my tags are expired, even though I still have a couple days to go on them. He lets me go, and we head out. We finally make it to the condo in pitch black with my brother waving a flashlight to signal where to go. I had a lot of glasses of wine that night to calm down.
The next day was much better. The boys played Magic, and my mom, my sister, and my brother's girlfriend went into Bend and hit our favorite bead store, a farmer's market, and had lunch at McMenamins. It was gorgeous and clear and not too hot. Later we cooked dinner for 30 people, and had one of the nicest evenings with our family that we've had in a long time. Everyone was on their good behavior, including me, and all the kids were playing frisbee while the grownups played giant Jenga. It was really nice to see everyone so happy and having fun together. It made it worth the trip to be a part of the experience, and I do have to say that Nik pulled through insisting that we still go.
The trip back wasn't too bad, and Nik found that he could get the parts he needed for $22.00 total and have my brother put them in for free, so it worked out just fine. I don't know if there's some sort of moral hidden in the experience and how we dealt with things, but Nik and I have learned that when we're stressed we seem to make things worse with each other and that we have to time ourselves out and not talk to each other for a while. Other than that it's nice to know that he's willing to fight to get to our destination because it means that much to be with the family. That's pretty cool. For some reason I kind of like my kid even if he drives me to tear my hair out every now and then.