Following a sort of summer vacation from writing, I’m back at the keyboard, opinions and all. And feeling pretty darned good.
June, you see, has been a red-letter month for me. Not counting one airport incident, on which I’ll write more later.
First of all, niece Eddie Burke and I made our annual pilgrimage to see two of our true loves: my sister and her aunt, Alice Callahan Alban of Eugene, Oregon, and the awesome Pacific Ocean.
With Eddie at the wheel, we drove the magnificent Oregon Coast from the Washington State border to the California line. If you’ve never made that Highway 101 coastline drive, put it on your Bucket List. You’ll never forget the views of the Pacific to the west, rugged mountains to the east.
Or course, Mr. Walker made the trip and returned with mixed feelings. Again, he made the flights both ways locked up in the baggage hold. He took revenge in various ways.
On our annual excursion out onto the ocean to see the whales, we we were slamming and jolting along on an extremely rough sea. Although he was comfortably folded and resting against a rack full of life jackets, Walker saw his chance to get back at us, and made a run for the boat railing and a jump into the briny.
He tried this nasty little trick several times, until a deckhand offered to tie him to the rack. After that, Walker settled down and we enjoyed a number of “thar she blows” spout moments.
Then Eddie found a handicap-accessible beach in Lincoln City, and Walker and I were delighted to be able to stroll along the surf, getting sand in our matched blue sneakers. Back at our rented beachfront house, I cleaned up before entry. Walker, on the other hand, left sand all over the carpets.
Walker and I also were thrilled when Eddie decided for a side trip up Mt. Hood, something she and I hadn’t done since 1993, and Walker had never done.
In addition to the spectacular views motoring up the south face and back down the north side, we had lunch at Timberline Lodge, where Walker rested against the balcony rail, worried about avoiding the keg-bearing St. Bernard dogs. Then we had a wonderful drive along the Columbia River Gorge back to Portland and our flight home.
Everything after than went pretty well, although Walker recognized the interior of a Portland Airport Shuttle bus taking him to another baggage hold, and made a second grandstand play. His attempted run from behind the driver’s seat down the steps to the shuttle door was cut short by the man seated beside me. Walker’s wheels never had a chance against the huge right foot of this 6 foot, 6 inch 305-pound obstacle.
More red letters:
While we were away, niece Kate Oswald of Effingham made a successful bicycle ride from the Colorado line to the Missouri River in Atchison, a week-long trek over the entire 500-plus miles across Kansas. Good job!
Two days after I arrived home, great-granddaughter Haley Scott of Everest and her teammates wrapped an undefeated season on NEK ballfields by taking it all in the season-ending league tournament. Haley welcomed me home while sporting a very impressive “gold” medal on a red-white-and-blue ribbon around her neck. Another good job!
While Walker and I no longer try to negotiate our way to the bleachers to see her play, we did get a plus on the day of Haley’s tournament win. Her brother Patrick stayed with me, where he and Walker ran amok throughout my apartment, hauling Patrick’s toy Nascar racers along in Walker’s “ditty bag.”
For my part in the fun, Patrick and I pigged out on cupcakes and ice cream, and I taught him a game played with a pair of dice. If Patrick’s Mommy reads this, I may may never get to host Patrick again.
During these last few days of June, I got some new teeth, outlasted a nasty case of bronchitis and got a needle stuck in my left eye.
All this was, however, more pleasant than the one fly in my June ointment. A long delay, unfounded suspicions and thorough body pat-down, clothing and luggage search visited on me by the TIA agents at the Portland Airport. The lengthy process drew a ton of attention from other passengers who, along with niece Eddie, were whisked through the line with no delays.
I defy anyone to try to look innocent while some hefty blonde puts on gloves and checks out every inch of you, in front of hundreds of staring, whispering people.
I was the only passenger chosen for this hunting exercise, and I blame the whole embarrassing episode on Walker. While he has admitted nothing, I suspect he was telling gross lies about me to the Southwest Airlines baggage handlers slamming him into the plane’s luggage slammer.
Next time, I’ll leave Walker home and take along Mrs. Soapbox.