Sunday, April 11, 2010

Upon the Eve of My Birthday

The events of what occured on March 31, 2010 will go down as one of the most eventful days before my birthday that I've ever had.  It all started after I got off from work.  My roommate and I were going to stay the night in Astoria, OR so we didn't have to wake up as early to go clam digging in Long Beach on my birthday.  As we were cruising along up past Skamokawa, WA and just cresting KM Mountain, Kyle nervously turned to me and said we had a problem.  I looked over quizically towards him and asked what was wrong.  He hesitantly said we no longer had a working clock, and the speedometer stoped working.  I tried to stay calm and said it'd be ok, not knowing what I was saying.  As soon as I finished uttering this statement, Kyle told me there was yet another problem.  By now we had started coasting down the mountain and Kyle became a little scared I think.  I exclaimed, "Tell me, tell me!" as my true feelings of worry became revealed.  "The gas pedal won't work." He said.

Luckily, we were already going downhill and were capable of letting our special friend, gravity, help us down the windy road.  As we came to the bottom, we were able to roll easily to a nice graveled spot on the side of the road.  We soon realized that the car wasn't even on anymore and had no idea what had happened.  Kyle tried turning the key a few times, but it wouldn't even turn over. I let out a sigh and began to think of what could be the problem.  I've lended assistance with working on cars in the past, but only as a helping hand. I thought about alternator or starter problems, maybe some wire possibly shorted.  I got out of the car, popped the hood and started my novice inspection.  Quickly I concluded that I had no idea what had occured.

Our next thought was to call someone... yet this also became impossible.  You see, on the other side of KM Mountain is Grays River.  It's a valley area consisting of the said river and also the community of Grays River.  This seemingly remote area is Kyle's ancestral homeland full of Magnusons, a branch off of his family tree that he really doesn't know too well apparently since we never knocked on a Manuson door for help. It's a small country community tucked within the Willipa Hills and ,as we soon found out, doesn't have any cell phone reception!  Our next plan was to find a phone booth.  Kyle said there was a commercial area somewhere close, so I grabbed my coat and we began our journey. 

We walked what seemed like forever. We passed over a bridge that led us across the river, went up windy hills and down curvy roads.  Each turn, Kyle promised there was a commercial area as I became a little concerned about the location of this seemingly imaginary place. I must say that it was a nice enjoyalbe walk, although the reason why we were walking wasn't so great.  I got to see some beautiful areas that the river cuts through and there were a few areas where the trees opened up to reveal the beauty of the rolling Willipa Hills.

I don't know how long it took, but we finally came across an area that seemed promising.  It looked like a cafeteria! Yes!  The journey was over! We could use their phone, relax for a bit, and wait for our ride! My hopes were pulverized as I looked at the sign in the window. They were closed! Come to find out, they have selective days they're open, but Wednesday wasn't one of them! Just a little past this area was  the Grays River Firestation!  Again, I thought, "YES! They could help us!"  Yet as we got closer, I saw yellow "Do Not Cross" tape along an open staircase, and realized it was an old abandoned building... YAY!

Frustrated and tired of walking, I was glad when we finally found the lone phone booth of Grays River. It was next to the Second Hand Rose Antique Shop and across the street from Duffy's Irish Pub.  We rushed into this booth that looked like something that survived Armageddon, fumbled for some quarters, but found that it didn't take change.  A yellow sign with black lettering stated that local calls were free, but all others must use a phone card. GREAT!  We still tried to use the phone.  One service said they accept everything but our card carrier. And another failed attempt of getting ahold of someone resulted in learning that Kyle's parents don't accept collect calls. 

So we decided to go see about Duffy's which was our last hope. The lone server was a woman named Lauraine.  We explained our sad situation and asked if we could use the phone.  Greatfully, she was kind enough to let us use some of her minutes to make the long distance call that ended our delehma.  We thanked her by staying and having a bite to eat as we waited for our rescuers. 

The pub was really awesome! It was full of mis-matched antique furniture, chandeliers, and table lamps.  Framed pictures and other artwork covered the walls of this very eclectic, yet homey place.  The air was full of the aroma of smoke from a wood stove that resided towards the back. One could tell that this jewel of a place held many years of stories along and within its walls. 

As we waited for our food, I found an old table that looked like in its past life it had been apart of an old wooden ship.  Yet this piece was cut out into a table size, varnished over, and was given two pairs of legs to stand on. Next to us was an ink drawing reminiscent of Peter Cotton Tail or some other children's book from that era, and was further illuminated by a lamp that looked like it came from the 50's with a porceilan floral base, and a frosted lantern-type glass shade.

To my left, tucked within one corner of the dinning area, was a table stacked with old board games.  I skimmed through these while we waited for the food and found a game Kyle has been wanting me to play for a long time called Triominoes. What better time was there to learn?  So I gave it a chance and found it was an awesome game!  We played a few rounds before dinner was served, then twice afterwards as well. 

Sitting in my chair, I looked around and thought that this was one of the best birthday-eves I've ever had. I laughed and joked with Kyle who was not happy about our current state. He was sad I was having such a bad start to what was suppose to be a fun beginning to my birthday. I pointed out that I was having fun!  Sure, the car broke down and we had to walk what seemed like forever to find help. Yet, how many other March 31st have I personally had and can say they were memorable?  None that I can easily think of!  I sat there thinking about our current state and explained how much fun we really had that day. It was an adventure to get stuck somewhere, take a walk around a place I've only driven through but never took much notice of, find a cool homey Irish pub to play Triominoes in, and have a burger and butter beans until someone comes to take us back home.

As we played the last round of our game, Kyle's dad, Avery, walked through the door. We paid Loraine, climbed into the van full of family, and re-traced our way back to where it all started.  As we made it back to the car, Kyle's mom pointed out that the tripometer said we walked a little over 2 miles. After Avery started looking at the car, I tried to start it to just see if anything might happen to no avail. After a while of assessing the possible problems with the vehicle, Avery thought the problem was with a relay or wiring. Seeing that there was nothing else we could to do this evening, I left a note for whoever begging them not to tow the car and promising we'd be back by the weekend to fix it. We packed up anything of value into the van and headed East, back over KM Mountain, Skamokawa, Cathlamet, Stella, and finally entering Longview.

The next day would result in being one of the most uniquely bittersweet birthdays for me, but one I'll never forget.  The telling of such deserves its own post. So I'll leave you with this long entry for now.  I'm sorry for taking so long for an update to the crazy events that occured on March 31st, but I hope you found them at least interesting if not entertaining.