When Men And Mountains Meet

So I rent a car every once in a while, usually for a very short time, and usually for a frantic sprint of errands and chores that leaves no time for the more pleasurable things one can do with a car. But this weekend was an exception. Having scored a little Mazda 3 from Hertz with a deal thanks to being a AAA member (seriously, join AAA, they are THE BEST), I sat in front of my computer on Saturday looking at the sun, and looking at my watch.

I had 2 hours of daylight left, and nothing to do but eat and go to bed. So if I wanted to go do something, now was the time. I was reluctant to do anything, but I will get to that later. But I was talking with Meg, and I asked her what I should do, given the time constraints. And I told her what I was considering. And she made me get up off my butt, fire up Google Maps, and head off. To drive east, towards the Cascade Range, and get some close-up pictures of Mount Hood.

WillametteFalls600

This picture is from, as the crow files, about 40-ish miles away. It is taken from a historical marker at the Willamette Falls, where some dude not named Willamette incorporated the first city west of the Rocky Mountains and established the first paper… Yeah, I lost interest too. Back in the car.

I’m not going to post 100 pictures, or describe the journey in detail, or gush on about how impressive the mountain is. But I will give you a few observations.

1. Little cars do not like mountains.

2. You really don’t have a good perspective on how far up you’re going, and at what rate you are ascending, until you go DOWN. Then, you understand why little cars do not like mountains. If I had to push my fat ass up that road for 20 miles, I wouldn’t like them either.

3. The lens on your camera phone is a wide-angle lens, and doesn’t capture the scale and grandeur of something like a mountain worth a crap.

4. I need an actual camera.

5. Temperature changes at different elevations are startlingly abrupt. I went from 57 degrees near sea level to 37 degrees at 3000 feet.

6. Snow on the ground accompanies these temperature changes. Getting out of the car when I turned around at about 3000 feet, the ground was 100% covered with snow. Down in Portland the grass is green, and there hasn’t been snow since the last snowfall in (I think) December.

7. The trees, rocks, valleys, cliffs, and other smaller peaks in the Cascades are nearly as impressive as Mount Hood itself.

8. There is snow on the glacier at the top of Mount Hood 365 days a year. One day when it’s 80 degrees in Portland, I am going to go up to the glacier and make a snowman.

I think that’s about it. This is as close as I got to the mountain, still roughly 8 linear miles and more than a mile and a half in vertical elevation away from the peak. Flippin’ unbelievable.

MountHood600

I told you I would tell you why I didn’t want to make this trip. See, even though I live here now, even though my clothes and my job and my autographed Eddie Olczyk puck and my toenail clippers are here, it doesn’t feel like “home” yet. Why?

Because my sweetie isn’t here.

This part of the country is absolutely overflowing with stuff to do: things that I have never done, things I want to do, and things which simply fascinate me. And I know they will be so much more fun to do with Meg that I am reticent to do them alone. So while I want to go out to the coast and see the ocean, and go down the Columbia Gorge and feel the wind, and see the rainforest and the wetlands and eat at the restaurants and wander the museums and do all that there is to do, I have held off. Because starting in September, I will be able to hold my sweetie’s hand and share the excitement and wonder of all of those things with her.

So while this was fun, and I had a good time, and the pictures are pretty cool, the lesson I learned is this: I miss my wife, I want her here with me, and the sooner that happens the happier I will be.

And next time, rent an SUV.

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