Little Red Corvette I am not. I am a red 4-door 96 Toyota Tercel. Before Lilian rescued me as a rental car I was pretty abused. True, I got to go many places, yet I found no joy in racing up and down freeways unnoticed and unappreciated by the operators of my greatness. True, when they returned me to the lot, they poked me and gave me what was called routine maintenance. I thought that is what my life consisted of. At one point I was parked at a lot and just sat there in the rain when a Lady came by and ran her hand over my body. She nodded her head a few times and suggested she tell me a story. She related how she always drove American Cars…to be patriotic, she added… but a few days ago she had a dream telling her to buy a BUDGET car. She picked one in Olympia but was unable to get it financed…the salesman was trying to overcharge her. She set out to find a BUDGET car and in a totally different town, Tacoma, I sat until she appeared. Don’t know what the rubbing on me represented to her… at that time… I did not care, I was just happy that at one point she turned the key and off we went to her house.
I liked where I was parked, amongst trees and real people went by, a girl singing each day and I was close enough to the window so I could hear and get to know Lilian. She talked on the phone to half of the world and I realized the reason for her having rubbed me. She is a Psychic and wanted to see if I was truly the car for her. Over the years she rubbed me often, finding little illnesses I suffered from, and took me to the Car DR right away, and every time I got well again. I am getting ahead of myself….. she measured my doors and adorned me with a magnet plaque… put Press stickers on my front and back. I now have Animal Savers on my front bumper so I don’t hit a little critter on the highway …better yet, so I won’t get hit by a deer. She equipped me with a microphone and put a pretty basket in the back window. I have a converter stuck in the cigarette lighter for her camera and she NEVER eats while driving, and cracks the window when she smokes. Music is soft and never vibrates my insides…she wants to hear me purr.
Right away we went on the road…back roads that is… and traveled to see the country while she filmed and stroked my dash praising me each time I got her over another big mountain. She even said thank you when coming down a 14,000-foot mountain and came to a smooth stop at the bottom of the hill.
For 3 years we made small runs to town, we drove to the mailbox each day because Lilian was ill. She learned how to throw her walker into the back seat with ease and every so often I even transported a great-grand baby in a car-seat to some fun lunching. I am always ready to go, all gassed up, and I get new oil every 3,000 miles. I was equipped with new front brakes a few weeks ago, and remember thinking that something was up and right I was, which brings me to August 2013.
My tires were checked. My fluids replenished, overnight bags, coffeepot. Blanket and pillows on the back seat and at 4 AM Lilian and her Grandson started me up and off we went.
Lilian has taken me this way many times, yet I enjoy her explaining the roads and little towns to the young man. First stop Toledo, WA, to take pictures of the City block which burned down one X-Mas Eve. The businesses on the block were settings for several TV shows for Lilian. Just one piece of the old Mason Hall is still standing and the only video in existence of the former splendor was donated to the City by Lilian.
The foothills of Mt. St. Helen were superb, a light fog was covering the streets till arriving in Amboy. The drive was wonderful till Chamas, the pollution from Pulp Mills was “breathtaking”. (It stank!) While heading for Highway 14 I eaves-dropped on the conversation between Lilian and her Grandson. He filmed and took still photos while Lilian, was pointing out points of interest, and rattling on about Girley, her cat. About a week before the trip something upset the cat. Usually sweet and even tempered, Girley turned into this unruly, yelling and destructive creature. She tore curtains off the window, pulled the fishnet in the glass-room off the ceiling, knocked over appliances and ran through the house like a bat out of hell! Lilian thought something happened to her during the airshow in her back yard. Maybe some new device was tested and the cat reacted to it. This went on for almost a week, and I think Lilian was kind of glad to get away from the cat-turned-crazy for a minute, and enjoy the trip.
Lunch was in Stevens, WA and I got a check up and gas. Fires were raging in Eastern Washington where I was supposed to carry them to. Lilian said she had talked to the wind to turn the smoke, so when the emergency sign came to tune to your radio to 106, they did. It said Highway 97 was closed due to the Goldendale Fire but there was no indication we were going to stop, so I just kept rolling. Through the tunnels, the clouds, which had accumulated on the highway due to the altitude, just hugging the rocks and admiring the mighty Columbia River below. They talk about how unbelievable it is that a court ruled a baby cannot be named Messiah and how the court had ordered to change her name. How crazy is that? One more hill, we are almost at the destination.
I stopped in front of the Mary Hill Museum and enjoyed the wind just blowing the dust off me. Much later my passengers emerged. We stayed parked for some time and they marveled at the beauty of the Museum. The Queen of Rumania donated many of her treasures such as clothes, furniture, paintings and her throne to Mr. Hill. It was said they were great friends. On one floor there is a Native American display. It has many things from the Columbia Tribes and gives an outstanding history of the region and the past. Sculptures were housed on another floor with magnificent pieces of art. Lilian’s Grandson was in awe of what he had seen.
So glad to get a rest, been driving at a steady pace for 9 hours, well, truth be told… 8 with the stop and go escapades Lilian performed to let 18-wheelers pass on the narrow road.
Two more miles, another elevation and here we are!
Notice the wind turbines and the scorched soil! The fire had come down as far as the river. Amazing, there was no smoke so to speak of. Lilian and her grandson were disappointed the giftshop at the entrance was closed; she always buys gifts for the family there. Not too many people and the wind has calmed down to 50mph. She tells people the story of Stonehenge. Mr Hill, an Eccentric, adored his wife and built the replica of the original. It was not well received, so he turned it into a WW1 War Memorial. He added name plaques of fallen soldiers from the region and THEN everyone liked it.
We stayed a couple of hours, Lilian and her Grandson were talking about the ceremonies conducted here till this day, the age of the fallen soldiers—some as young as her grandson—and the sadness of wars as they reflected on their blessings. I think they felt accomplished with their thoughts.
22 miles to The Dalles, across the river, into Oregon to spend the night. I felt a bit wobbly by the time I got across the bridge, so Lilian parked me and they walked to a Cantonese Restaurant for dinner and boy… the cook sent them back with two big plates of food when he found out Lilian actually knew how to cook Cantonese Food.
I rested, and liked the wind caressing my body, and I could hear the TV in the Hotel room. I knew when something interesting came on, because Lilian yells at the Telly, and yell she did. Surprised her Grandson got any sleep at all, but he did! She was very upset at the news.
Syria had for a second time attacked their own people with Sarin. The pictures were terrible. She wondered what would happen next. More war for our soldiers on the horizon? More name plaques on a war memorial?
There is a building in New York which has two Front Doors. One for RICH and one for POOR. It is affordable housing, Jim Crow Style, with 2 entrances. The gentleman explaining why this is not discriminatory even added his opinion in the following segment about Kidney transplants based on employment….one should sell kidneys as a marketable resource….suggested the affordable housing guy.
Time to go home, I am still wobbly. Les Swabs here I come. One leaky tire, 28 pounds and here I thought the wind had kicked up again. Air in my tire feels good but now I knock and struggle going up the mountain. I am really sick. Lilian to the rescue! She thinks I got bad gas in Stevens, treats me with a bottle of Octane Booster and fills me up! She gently strokes my dash and talks to me for 200 miles explaining to her Grandson that one has to have a relationship with one’s car and respect it. He has a “whatever” look on his face, and has to agree it works.
All Highway 500 signs going North are turned the wrong way. Lilian keeps hanging a right anyway, she trusts her instincts and heads to Kelso even though the signs wanted to send her in the opposite direction. She is trying to take me across the bridge to Highway 411, but the signs are still wrong. She asks the local John Deere dealer how to get across the Kalama River and is told there is no such highway. She has seen totally uninformed locals before, so she asks the FED EX guy parked by the side of the road. He agrees there is NO Highway 411 and no bridge! He would know, after all he had to deliver packages to all addresses. Lilian spots a UPS Lady, they have a smoke together and laugh about how dumb… well, you fill in the blanks. She draws a map and then, 3 streets over we get on the non-existent bridge, make a right and here I am on Highway 411 for 32 miles. Vader, just where I had been before, several times. The last 50 miles are easy and to show my appreciation for the kind words and treatment I got, I took Lilian 720 miles with 1 1/4 tanks of gas. Mind you, I hold 11 gallons in my tank. So repeat! 720 miles!
While on the little trip, Lilian’s Homeowner Insurance transferred 6 double payments out of her meager bank account, collapsed everything, and reminded me she truly is a lead-foot Scorpio. Good thing I was so kind with drinking gas or we would have been stuck in Oregon. August is over and she is still looking for some of the money to be returned to her…I will keep you posted.
2/3 tank of gas was still within my belly and after several days we went to the Movies. It was important to continue the final lessons of the summer journey.
A friend made it possible to buy tickets for Lilian and Grandson to see the best picture in a very long time. On the way home they discussed the movie and this is what I got out of it.
This personal story of the White House Butler runs a dual story line: a family story, and a look back at the at the 20th century in reference to who we are as Americans. The Civil Rights Movement and how people arrived at our present state of affairs. Everyone should take their Children and Grand-children to see this masterpiece. It is so skillfully woven and reminds us that we need to be careful and continue to move forward. It gives the new generation a point of reference as to what not to do, rather than reading it in schoolbooks, which at times are distorted. The cast is awesome and will win many awards.
And THEN… in real life. It was 50 years ago that the March to Washington took place. On August 24th people again marched to Washington continuing the message for equal rights for ALL Americans. Some of the original people and some great grandkids of Lilian’s generation, marched again! Some of her friends attended, and just when she thought she was unable to get a personal photo… there it was! Thank you, Selena Fox!
Through the window I heard a segment on the TV Lilian was watching. It was about the Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement. Lilian was emotional and talking to herself for a while after that. Something about being so young when she came to America right in the middle of all of the turmoil still occurring in 1966.
And off we are again, guess it will take the last little drop of gas I have left to carry them to the Reservation for lunch for the last leg of the August 2013, early autumn journey.
Lunch at the Casino. The Maitre’d, John, seats Lilian and her Grandson. After some story exchanges they order. Two elderly Ladies arrive and John tells them he will seat them at a booth, directly behind his favorite Trouble Makers. The Ladies are having a wonderful time laughing about the previous day they got stoned out of their heads on marijuana, now that it is legal. About the hardy appetite afterwards and the cloud of weed-smelling smoke. Lilian lights a cigarette. One of the ladies throws her hands up in the air unsuccessfully trying to roll on the floor. She yells: “I am allergic to smoke!” John tells her this is an establishment on the reservation in an Independent Nation. He offers to move them to a different table or better even, refers them to a Non-Smoking bar next door. Lilian never turned her head, and just kept smoking.
I did make the trip home. I am only a 96 Toyota Tercel but I am still laughing about the Ladies and their weed-smelling smoke. And a good time was had by ALL!
Love and Light,
PS: This is a trip to the same place from an earlier year. It is part of the 7-week series “Nazhoni”
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