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38 miles to Medford: A tale of terror on the Interstate

27 Mar

Imported from MySpace blog

It was 3 a.m. and the sign read 38 miles to Medford. I thought I was home free.

Then it began to rain.

I had been driving since 9:30, when I left Portland expecting a short jaunt down to Ashland in my brand-new, shiny 1988 Ford Taurus, a gift from a generous friend who had traded up in the automotive world.

I had thought to myself, “Gee, what a fabulous opportunity to get to know my new car and its quirks while listening to some kick-ass mix tapes.”

Quirk number one: semi-functional windshield wipers.

I had already been informed of spiffy traits like brakes without that handy anti-lock feature, an overwhelming lack of airbags, and a tendency to overheat. Additionally, I was running on fumes myself, having a mere three hours of sleep under my belt from the night before, adding to a total of something like 12 hours for the whole week.

Four cups of coffee in the morning managed to fuel me until I arrived in Portland, where I promptly took a fitful two-hour nap. I stocked up on energy drinks and hit the road… only to pull over in Eugene, panic-stricken by the onset of rain with no way to wipe it off the windshield. Then a cop arrived and informed me of Quirk Number Two: no brake lights. Thankfully, he didn’t ticket me, or even ask for insurance information, which would’ve been very confusing to him I’m sure.

A few minutes and several more energy drinks later, I was back on the road, more freaked out than before. I made it to Cottage Grove, a town that consists of a railroad track and a market that says “open,” but isn’t. I checked to see if hazard lights were an option. I couldn’t find the button, so I called the previous owner, who was, as most people would be, almost asleep, and didn’t remember where they were. The handbook was no help, but my taillights weren’t out, so it was back on the road for me. At this point I abandoned all hope of making it home by dawn.

I made it to Roseburg by driving 40 mph and occassionally utilizing that handy shoulder-lane reserved for truckers and old ladies. I breezed through the well-lit and straight roads surrounding that metropolis at a solid 50 mph.

The glittering city of Medford was well within my sights when the rain began again. I slowed to a mere 35 mph during the series of S-curves that lie between Roseburg and Grants Pass.

I eventually made it to Ashland by using a carefully applied method of windshield-wiping madness followed by periods of low windshield-wiping activity.

I rolled into town shortly before dawn, a broken, frazzled, over-caffeinated shell of my former self.

Things I learned from my I-5 experience:

Sleep is not, as previously thought, for sissies.

Caffeine is a poor replacement for said sleep.

Red Bull is a poor replacement for water.

Truckers are brave and noble people, and should be paid more.

Now all my car needs is a name.

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