Archive for the ‘Honeymoon’ Category


Several people have expressed concern about the van rolling during the accident. It didn’t. I was trying to explain how the whole thing went from my perspective, how in my head I was fully expecting the van to roll, so much so that I was already preparing for it, but I wasn’t explicit enough about how the van hadn’t actually rolled. To me it seems miraculous, but C says that given the weight distribution in the van, it’s not surprising at all.

I fixed the story so it should be more clear now.

I still keep thinking about how lucky we were that we slid directly onto the shoulder instead of stopping in the right lane, directly in front of the pickup and semi. I’m getting over it — it’s not in my head all the time — but I’d really like this memory to fade soon.


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I had just taken the wheel at about 4:30 am, maybe 5. Charles had been driving but was getting a little sleepy, so I was going to drive while he took a little 20-minute nap to refresh himself till the sun came up. We got back on Interstate 80 with a pickup in front of and a semi behind us. The pickup was just under the limit so I passed in the left lane, and if I’d been looking in front rather than in my rearview as I was getting back in the right lane, I’d’ve seen the deer just a quarter-second sooner…not that it would have mattered.

I saw it just as Charles shouted; took in the adolescent size, the lack of antlers, the direction of motion. Horror filled me as I stood on the brake, every cell in my body screaming denial of the impending impact I could not avoid; it sent us just enough to the left to begin a skid. My hands reacted on the steering wheel before I consciously knew what was happening, trying to hold it straight against the pull (I realized I was screaming) — but seeing that the van was about to go into the median, instinct took over: cars must stay on the road! I over-corrected just slightly and the van suddenly magnified the turn a hundredfold, pulling hard to the right. Still screaming, harder now, in my mind I saw the world turning upside down, felt and heard the ground on the top of the van above our heads, wondered how badly we’d be hurt…but the van stayed upright. My hands continued to straighten the wheel as my eyes and body fed reality into my brain, bringing the van almost to a stop right on the shoulder of the road, facing the wrong direction. We were not quite on the shoulder; I let my foot off the brake to get the rear of the van out of the lane — and jumped as the pickup and semi shrieked past us, missing us by mere feet.

I was no longer screaming, but still crying out in horror and absolute terror, a part of me still rejecting the possibility of what had just happened and what had almost happened. Charles’s arms were around me the best he could reach, pulling me toward him. He reached over and turned off the engine. One of us, maybe both of us, pressed the button to turn on the hazards. We sat close together for a moment, Charles repeating that it was over, that we were okay. But I was agitated, twitchy, my mind churning with what should be done now. I pulled away and tried to open my door, thinking of the deer, the van, as if I could do anything to help either one; but Charles pulled me back, took my face in his hands, forcing me to look at him. “Say it! ‘We’re okay’!”

I located the words deep within me. “We’re okay,” I said, so that he would let me go and I could go do…what? I didn’t reach for the door again. He pulled me to him across the armrests and the gap between the seats, and we sat together for a moment, quieting. I began to grasp that the immediate danger had passed. We were okay. We were not hurt. At 75 mph (that’s the interstate speed limit in Nebraska, a speed I will never go at night ever again), the deer had to be dead, but it was quick. There was nothing to be done for it. There was nothing that had to be done right now for the van, or for us, except we should take a few moments to calm down.

I don’t remember many specifics after that — really after the pickup and semi passed us, very obviously going the opposite direction, most of it is blurry. He waited for no traffic coming and tried to get out the passenger side to look at the damage, but the door would open only enough to get an arm out.

That was our first indication of the damage done to the van.

Then we saw the smoke rising up from…where? I assumed at the time it was the engine, because I’ve never seen anything but the engine smoke on a vehicle, but now I’m sure it was the tires (and possibly the brakes?). The engine wouldn’t have been doing any more work than usual, but the tires laid down a fair amount of tread. The smoke did stop eventually, and I never noticed a smell, but then I wasn’t trying to.

We called 911 to get a sheriff out to us (trying to figure out how to tell them where we were — GPS coordinates were not useful to them), and waited on hold for freaking ever with Verizon’s roadside assistance, finally giving up. We looked at the damage, took pictures. With us in the car — the bugs were overwhelming so he let us sit in his car — the sheriff backed up along the shoulder to measure the distance from the mile marker to the site of the accident, which is when I noticed the track of the poor deer’s body from the shoulder far into the (blessedly un-mowed) grass. The sheriff got out and confirmed that the deer was dead (he’d’ve put it out of its misery if it wasn’t), though it took him a minute or two to find it in the grass. Neither of us went to look.

The body shop that the tow truck took us to got a radiator, fan, blinker, and headlight from a Town & Country in the salvage yard down the street from them, and informed us that it could be today or it might be Monday when they’d have it done. At around 2:30 pm, they called to let us know that the van has been repaired enough to get us home (they’ve been working overtime on Saturdays to begin with, but they still put us ahead of local customers to get us back on the road — we are very grateful). They even pounded out the major dents in the body, and the passenger door seems to move just fine. We’re resting up tonight, and we’ll head home tomorrow morning, driving considerably under the 75-mph speed limit, watching carefully for deer. Barring any further incidents, we should be home in the evening.

I feel terrible about it. There was nothing we could have done, with the knowledge we had, to avoid the accident, except possibly going under the speed limit (many, many vehicles in Nebraska go 5 or 10 under the limit on the Interstates). But I didn’t know what a vehicle that hit a deer might do — call me stupid, but it never occurred to me that it might send the vehicle into skids like that. And they tell you in driver’s ed not to overdrive your headlights, but then you go and drive the Interstates for 13 years without hitting any animals, and you forget.

It’s unlikely that you’ll hit an animal at any given time, or even on any given trip. But when you add up all your highway miles, it’s pretty much bound to happen sometime. I look at unlikely incidents like that after they happen (odds are it would happen to somebody…) but I should look at it like that before they happen, so that I’ll take precautions like an intelligent adult.

We have both agreed that, for our next vacation, we’re going to fly somewhere and stay there for the whole trip. No driving.

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Day 18

Not a very interesting day, though we went through some nice country and got some good photos. We’re in Boise, Idaho for the night, spending less money than most people do on a Hampton, because we are on our honeymoon, but much more than I intended to spend now that it’s past 11 pm local time and the Hilton website insists that it’s no longer the 18th of June at this hotel.

I have many more points than I intended to have at the end of this trip….I am also now a Gold member because I’ve paid for so many damn stays. We’ll have to plan a weekend somewhere and pay for it with points.

Anyway. I haven’t gone through any more photos since we were in Oakland…maybe I’ll do some tomorrow on the road.


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Day 17

Spent entirely too much money at Twisted, one of the yarn stores in Portland, yesterday when my aunt took me there. Very pleasant store, making it very easy to spend money, though I did continue to resist buying the lace shawls book that I’ve been wanting forever but am not yet ready to actually use. My current project is the largest one I’ve attempted yet and since there’s a time limit on it, I’m working on it almost exclusively. But I have a million other projects I want to do….I need more knitting needles.

We never did get to that hike in the Columbia River Gorge, but we’re going through it today on the way home and depending on how things are labeled (and how willing C is to stop) we may end up at a waterfall or two. If we were to drive 12 hours a day we’d get home in the evening on Saturday, so I’m not worried about the time, but I guess we should get going being that it’s already 11:30 local time…

But first, I’m going to try and upload a couple of photos to my facebook.

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What day is it?

Day 16, today, making yesterday day 15 and Sunday day 14.

No internet at the house in Portland, so updates will be intermittent until Thursday night, at which point they will be very boring (we hope) as we head back to Illinois through other Flatland states. On Sunday, we drove from Oakland to Portland on Interstate 5. Not much to say for that one, and since we are no longer taking pictures of Route 66 signs, we don’t have many pictures to go through (though I’m still back on day 8, I think, the day I took 1300 pictures). I did take a couple yesterday on our drive through the city with my cousin Karah and aunt Debra. We had lunch at one of the many cute little cafes/delis in town, $5 for an enormous sandwich, good deal. And dinner was at the Bagdad Pub, where we got a beer sampler, a fairly good ahi burger for me (though they have a different definition of “seared” than most places — the tuna was nearly cooked through), some excellent tater tots (that’s not hard), and some truly amazing fries — amazing in the sense that I didn’t think it was possible to fry potatoes in such a way that they acquired the texture of styrofoam. But the beer and C’s pepperoni pizza were good.

We have been sleeping terribly as I am coughing constantly during the night. It started Sunday morning, when I woke up a billion times with Stuff permeating my head, clogging my sinuses, and dripping down the back of my throat so that it scraped like sandpaper whether I moved or not, and I couldn’t stop coughing to save my life. The situation has improved only slightly (my sore throat went away), and I’ve resorted to DayQuil again, much as I hate taking medicine.

It’s especially annoying because I want to ride my bike, dammit, and every time I hit the tiniest hill my lungs start working and I start coughing. I’ve nearly gagged on my coughing several times, though that won’t stop me from riding around Portland because I’ve been looking forward to it for months now, and if I have to ride around coughing up a lung every five seconds then, dammit, that’s what I’m going to do. Focus on the area and it’ll take my mind off the coughing.

I like this town. It doesn’t have the gritty industrial feel of Chicago (though that’s part of what I love about that town), and while it can be fairly pretentious, it somehow manages not to take itself too seriously even as it tells you every chance it gets that We’re Different Here. I have a hard time calling it a city, though. It seems more like a collection of suburbian downtowns — but not like the western suburbs of Chicago are now, more like they were 15 years ago, before they got Polished. And before the chain stores came in. Almost everything is local stuff, except for maybe the northwest, where the money is, so you see more of the Restoration Hardware and other fancy Very Nice Things stores.

Anyway. I may change my impression of it once I have ridden around on a bike and seen more of the eastern part, which seems more neighborhoody and hippie-ish than the side to the west of the river which splits the town. It’ll be nice to ride around without worrying about accidentally riding into a bad area.

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Day 12

Spent the day in Napa Valley. My alarm didn’t go off at 7:30 local time, so I woke up at 8:45 instead. A couple hours later, we were in Napa Valley, riding our bikes along Silverado Trail in the bike lane next to 55-mph traffic.

We discovered part way that it’s 30 miles or more between Napa and St Helena, too far to ride. So we turned around and went back to the car…but not before buying a case of various bottles from the Hagafen Winery (they didn’t eat the shipping, but they didn’t charge us a tasting fee and we got a little discount for 12 bottles) and a bit of fruit from a fruit stand advertising freshly picked berries and cherries. Dinner was at Taylor’s Refresher, which had a great burger and an awesome ahi burger, and on the way there we stopped by the fruit stand again and filled up on strawberries, raspberries, and boysenberries.


We really need to save up a few grand and spend a week in Napa Valley (and Sonoma). We could easily spend a few thousand dollars on wine alone.

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Day 10

Not much to talk about today, though it was a full day. We drove into San Francisco and parked across the Golden Gate Bridge to ride our bikes to the SF side, something I’ve wanted to do since we were here last year for James and Stacy’s wedding. There’s a nice park on the SF side so we rode through it, stopping to take pictures all over the place. We went back to the apartment before rush hour and hung out with Stacy for a while, all three of us sitting companionably all doing our different things online, until James got home and we went out to dinner at Fenton’s Creamery, which had amazing food and even more amazing ice cream. Now that we’re back at their apartment, a sleepy Stacy has retired early and we’re hanging out with James. C is playing the Red Faction Guerrilla demo and I’m going to go sort through pictures to put up on our Smugmug page.

Tomorrow we’ll tour Berkeley by bike with James, riding around the city — something else I’ve wanted to do for a very long time, riding a bike in a city instead of peddling around Champaign-Urbana and taking Green Street whenever I can find an excuse, just to feel like I’m in a city for a few pathetic blocks. I know I’m not the only one who does it — there are a few other people who volunteer for The Bike Project who have expressed the same sentiment.

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