Trueda’s Story

I like to travel light so before going on a trip I carefully plan what to take. I find the more time I put into planning, the lighter we travel. When I pack quickly I tend to use the “when in doubt, toss it in” method. This time I packed quickly. Good thing we’re taking a road trip; our car is functioning as a suitcase on wheels. After 3 trips between our car and our B&B room, the car is still half full of snacks, rain gear, extra shoes, maps and who knows what else. Definitely not traveling light.

This is our first trip since Michael’s diagnosis of bvFTD (a rare form of early-onset dementia). The last time we traveled, almost two years ago to Ecuador, I got a serious case of high altitude sickness and Michael had to change our plans and make arrangements to get me to lower ground. With hindsight I can see some signs of FTD in Michael back then, but he did what needed to be done and got me where I needed to be. I don’t think he could do the same thing today and that’s disconcerting to me. He looks the same and mostly sounds the same, but he doesn’t problem solve like he used to. And problem solving was something he excelled at.

I can’t help but notice how different traveling is now. When our son Joshua was young, he would occasionally travel by Greyhound to visit friends out of town. I joked with him about safety pinning our home address and phone number to his coat because he so easily became distracted and I worried that he might miss his stop. Now I feel that way with Michael. Anything can distract him and if he’s not in front of me I can walk off without him. Of course it doesn’t help that I’m hard of hearing so I can’t tell whether he’s behind me or not. Today I only “lost” him once.

We had a good day. One of our goals for the trip is to have some adventures and we did. I usually do almost all our driving now but Michael is sharing some of it on this trip. He drove the first hour as we decided the first part on I-5 would be the easiest part of today’s driving. It probably would have been if not for the torrential rain he ran into between Mt. Vernon and Everett. Normally in Western Washington rain tends to be a heavy mist but this was sheets of water and made for difficult driving conditions. I took over near Monroe right as the rain lessened. It stopped as we crossed over Stevens Pass reminding us once again why one side of the mountains is green and the other arid.

We took a break and wandered around on foot in Leavenworth, a Bavarian style tourist town just east of the mountains. We enjoyed some sausage and German potato salad. We searched unsuccessfully in a hat store for the perfect hat for Michael.We checked out a bakery and came away with goodies. And I only lost Michael once when he stopped to ask some people about their beautiful Weimaraner dog.

Tonight we are in Wenatchee. Tomorrow we drive to Baker City, Oregon on our longest day of driving at about 5 hours. We are aiming at about 3-4 hours each day to leave time for fun, exploration or rest as needed. Day One has been good; looking forward to Day Two.

Michael’s Story

leavenworth

Many denizens of the Pacific Northwest will recognize the photograph as Leavenworth, a town located a little east of Steven’s Pass. I snapped this pic when we stopped for a late lunch on our way to a bed-and-breakfast in Wenatchee. Leavenworth nearly died in the 1960’s when the lumber industry it depended on packed up and left. The town’s response was to reinvent themselves as a Bavarian village, in the hope that if they built a great tourist destination, lots of tourists would show up. The gamble paid off, and Leavenworth now thrives (or at least survives) on the tourist industry.

Trueda and I split a tasty kielbasa sausage on a bun (with mustard and Bavarian catsup and sweet relish and onions) and some excellent German potato salad, which we enjoyed in an outdoor beer garden busy with people in conversations, birds looking for handouts, a few dogs with their masters, and lively music that made you want to get up and start dancing (I resisted the urge). I chatted briefly with a couple and their Weimaraner, a German hunting dog. It’s a beautiful animal a little bigger than a Labrador Retriever. It kept pointing at the birds, which kept it busy because there were a lot of them hopping around on the ground. Leavenworth was an adventure; albeit, a little one.

When we left Bellingham late this morning. It was raining. And not just a little bit. As we made our way down I-5, we were assaulted by squalls and gusts of wind and standing water on the road and truckers driving past us scary fast, all of which combined to make for some white-knuckle driving. An inauspicious beginning, to be sure, but I have to admit that it was an adventure, which is what we are looking for on our 11-day road trip.

Be careful what you ask for, and be very specific.

The weather changed dramatically when we crossed over Steven’s Pass and headed down the east side of the Cascades. I’m guessing the weather on the west side remained more or less the same, but Eastern Washington has an entirely different climate. It always surprised me how different the forests on the east side are than the forests on the west side.

I usually have enough energy for about half a day, and then I fade. I was way past fade when we rolled into Wenatchee and checked into our bed-and-breakfast. But my mind kept going back to Leavenworth, the little town that refused to give up, the little town that reinvented itself.

Change is the only constant in our little lives on this Earth. Sometimes changes come along that make our current path unsustainable. This has happened to me, and probably to you as well. Here’s the thing: when our lives become untenable, we have a choice. We can whine about it and wish things could go back to the way they used to be; or we can reinvent ourselves, and become something new.

That’s scary. It’s scary because by the time we realize that we can’t continue as we have, the storm clouds have already gathered in the sky, and the rain is already pouring down on us, and gusts of wind are already buffeting us, and the crazy truck drivers are already whooshing past us, temporarily blinding us with the water thrown up by their tires. Head for that mountain pass. A whole new world waits on the other side. Getting there is the adventure.

So do not fear, for I am with you;

    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

It’s gotten late and I am tired. So I am going to turn in for the night. I hope there are more adventures tomorrow.

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