To Al’s for Memorial Service

Juanita’s Memorial Service in Oregon

March 31 – April 6, 2011

Day 1, Thursday, Home to Klamath Falls, Oregon via I-5, SR 97: 352 miles

It’s been over a year and a half since my last visit to my old high school buddy’s home. His wife, Juanita, had been ill and passed away a week ago. She wasn’t up to having company the past couple of years, and Al and I stayed in touch by phone. But now his life is very different, and I am heading to Prineville, Oregon to see my old friend. And I mean old; we were high school dormitory roommates at a parochial high school back in the 50s.

When Al called to tell me his wife had passed, I checked the Oregon weather; it didn’t look good for an RV trip to Oregon. Snow was in the forecast and I don’t drive in snow – and least not on purpose. But a couple of days later Al called again and advised that the forecast changed to rain only, and also included some sunny days. He asked that I come visit and join him at the memorial service for Juanita. No snow?! Heck, yes – I got right on it!

The day before I left on this trip, I washed the coach from roof to wheel covers. It needed some TLC as it had been sitting in the RV lot for over two months, and it was a big job getting her cleaned up. But I was overdue for a good road trip, and it was a pleasure to “work” on one of my favorite toys.

After loading the coach for the trip and bidding dear Wifey farewell, I was on the road a bit after 1000 hours.

Resting for a few moments at an I-5 Rest Area above Sacramento.

Navastar’s new tractor, the LoneStar, was parked near me. A simply awesome style!

The trip was uneventful, as is always my goal. It was a sunny drive all the way and I even had to use the air conditioner. I noticed a sore throat and dismissed it as I drove along US97’s grasslands. I passed it off as allergies, but it didn’t go away. I arrived at Klamath Falls, Oregon’s Walmart store at 1730. After a walk and a quick visit to the store, I fired up the little generator and settled in for the night. Upon pouring a good and stout Vodka Collins, I sat back to record this entry and process the days photos. And I got some pretty good photos during my drive.

Lake Shasta was nearly full as I crossed – it’s been a wet year.

Castle Crags along I-5 nearing Dunsmuir. This is one of my best photos ever, I think!

Snow north of Dunsmuir; I hadn’t seen this much snow along I-5 in years.

The “Sand Piles” north of Mt. Shasta.

Parked at McDonald’s in Weed, CA for a quick lunch.

Mt. Shasta viewed through a buggy windshield from US97 heading towards Klamath Falls.

Day 2, Friday, Klamath Falls to Prineville via US97: 171 miles

Friday dawned cold and the heater had a pretty good workout to keep me warm. I got the morning chores done, then headed out a bit before 8:00 for Prineville. It was too cold to consider a morning walk. And besides, I still felt a cold coming on.

Parked at Klamath Falls Walmart store on a cold, April morning.

I forgot how long and desolate that drive up US97 can be. It seemed I drove a hundred miles between towns, but eventually I reached the small town of La Pine where my sis and brother-in-law live. John was working, but I spent an hour visiting my sis, Gale, and having a breakfast of her wonderful banana bread. After bidding my sis farewell, I pulled into Gordy’s Truck Stop in La Pine and filled up with gas at $3.76 per gallon. After pumping $217 worth, I pulled back onto the highway and continued on to Prineville. Ouch!

Klamath Lake along US97 north of Klamath Falls.

The drive up US97 is long, lonely and beautiful.

The drive to Prineville is beautiful. After leaving Highway 97 just before Bend, and taking a shortcut through the outskirts of the city to avoid heavy traffic, I was driving a rural highway through the high desert country of Central Oregon. The land is rather arid, with sagebrush and Junipers dotting the landscape. The highway eventually dropped down into a valley and the small town of Prineville.

I took the usual photo of Prineville as I wound down to the valley floor.

Upon arriving in Prineville, I headed to the Crook County RV Park, a county-owned park that is very modern and well run. I chose a space near the back which was pretty isolated, which is just what I like. The park is full of tall trees, but my space was open to the south so I could get satellite reception for my TV.

Al drove over and picked me up, then we headed for his place where we visited the afternoon away. Family members began arriving, and by early evening I headed back to the coach, driving his spare car, a very well kept ’94 Buick. En route back to the coach, I stopped at Dairy Queen for a Reese’s Blizzard – I just couldn’t resist. The plan was to meet Al at his home late the following morning and to accompany him to the memorial service for his late wife, Juanita, at her sister’s home in Bend.

I spent the evening in the coach, watching TV and enjoying my Blizzard, followed by a couple of well made Vodka Collins – and a good night’s sleep.

Day 3, Saturday, Jacks down in Prineville and the memorial service in Bend.

It was in the 30s when I awoke, and while not quite so cold, the coach was pretty cool, too. The heater kept the bedroom comfortable all night, but it took awhile to get the rest of the coach warmed. I did some morning chores, showered, and prepared for the day. I did not know what to expect, but I would be with ol’ Buddy Al on this sad occasion, and that was what mattered.

After a quick, very off-my-diet breakfast at Mickey D’s, I met Al at his place. We climbed into his van and headed to Bend. The memorial service was very unique and very touching. The service began at 1300 and lasted to 1500, and was a lovely tribute to Juanita. A buffet followed the service, and I ate more than my share, naturally.

Al (L) and I at the memorial service for Juanita.

By 5:00 we headed back to Al’s and spent a couple of hours just visiting and retelling old stories. It had been an emotionally draining day for my buddy, and he enjoyed just kicking back for awhile.

By 1900 I was back in the coach, nursing my cold with a stiff Vodka Collins – or two. But that was after my third Reese’s Blizzard in three days. Oh, my. I need to get a handle on this outlaw eating.

Day 4, Sunday, Another day in Prineville.

I was up at 0600, after tossing and turning most of the time from 0330. My cold was miserable, and I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. Ugh. I left both electric heaters running in the coach to keep from freezing, and upon checking the weather online, discovered that it was just 21 degrees outside; the water hose was frozen solid and I had to use the on-board water tank and pump. In April?!

I stayed at the coach ’till after 1300, awaiting Al’s call to tell me that the relatives had left. I was taking a walk around the RV campground when he called, and afterward headed on over to spend some time with Al. We sat around the house watching a bit of TV and visiting. About 1530 we drove over to a local Chinese restaurant and had a wonderful dinner. After visiting more at the house, and feeling lousy with this cold, I headed to the coach for the night at about 1800. Once again I stopped by Dairy Queen for an ice cream treat. I gotta stop this overeating! At any rate, I nursed this lousy cold with the ice cream and then tried to drown it with a good, stiff Vodka Collins. I hit the sack around 2100.

Day 5,  Monday, Still at rest in Prineville.

Sometime during the night, I took three ibuprofen tablets for my miserable cold. And… for a rare change, I slept ’til 0620. That is mighty unusual for me as I am often up before 0500. But I needed the rest.

Parked at Crook County RV Park and the Buick Al loaned me for my stay.

I drove over to Al’s a bit after 1000. After just visiting at his home for awhile, we headed to Redmond, Oregon’s Walmart store. We shopped for things I needed on the trip and that Al needed at home. We then headed to the local KFC and got a bucket and sides which we took home for dinner that evening.

When we got back home, I headed to the coach for a nap, and Al kicked back a while himself. I had a rotten cold, or maybe flu, and Al had a headache. But after a couple of hours, I headed back to Al’s for that KFC dinner and more visiting. About 1800 I headed home for a good night’s rest, and nursed my cold the same as the nights before. Maybe having a cold isn’t so bad after all!

This would be my last day at Prineville as I planned to head home the following morning. I told Al that I’d have to leave Tuesday or Friday as snow was in the forecast the other days of the week. He advised that he felt that he was doing very well, and if I had to leave Tuesday, that would be fine.

Day 6, Tuesday, Prineville to Red Bluff via back roads, US97, I-5: 332 miles

I woke up later than usual, again, thanks in part to the cold medicine I’d been taking. I slept very well, but that head cold combined with the night cold medication had about gotten the best of me. While I was up to doing the usual morning chores, I sure felt rotten.

I drove over to Al’s a bit before 0800, as we agreed the night before. We had planned to go to breakfast that last day, but I just wasn’t hungry. Al usually eats breakfast later – and so do I – and feeling as rotten as I did, we agreed he’d just drive me back to the coach. I showed him some photos of the trip on the laptop computer, then bid him farewell. I usually give Al a hug when I leave, but told him he’d better not even shake my hand if he didn’t want to catch this nasty bug.

I left the RV park a bit before 0900, following the shortcut that misses the traffic in Bend. The traffic was light, as usual, and within an hour or so I was southbound on SR97 heading for home.

Parked for the night at Red Bluff’s Walmart lot.

I arrived at Red Bluff’s Walmart store at 1600, and settled in for the night. It was good to be out of snow country; it was a comfy 74°. Other than a walk into the Walmart store for more cold meds and later to a nearby Arby’s for dinner-to-go, I stayed put. Again, I wasn’t feeling up to a walk. I watched TV much of the time, and didn’t even shower or update this travelogue that night. I was still feeling rough, but thanks to the cold medicine, I slept just fine.

Day 7, Wednesday, Red Bluff to home via I-5, SR99: 189 miles

I didn’t tend to many chores that last morning of my Oregon trip. I felt lousy and I just wanted to head for home. So after my usual morning coffee and TV news fix, I put things in order and continued the final day of my trip at 0720.

I stopped at a Mickey D’s in Williams, a farming town along the interstate, and ordered two Sausage McMuffins with Eggs – as if one wasn’t enough. But, hey! They were on sale only as a “2fer” and I had to grab the bargain, didn’t I? I also ordered a “senior” coffee. I climbed back aboard the coach and headed south, munching my McMuffins as I drove. Mmmmmmm. I was lovin’ it!

It was springtime in the Sacramento Valley as I drove down I-5 toward home.

All went well ‘til I got to the outskirts of Sacramento. I noticed a big, flashing PREPARE TO STOP sign on a CalTrans truck parked on the shoulder, and sure enough, we came to a halt. I turned on the CB radio to listen to the truckers, and the chatter was about an eight car pileup near Richards Blvd, several miles up the road. The highway was completely closed. Rats. Now what?

The truckers talked about taking the I-80W turn off, which was just ahead of me a short distance. I took it and followed my magic little navigator as it took me west on I-80, then east on US50 which dropped me back onto I-5, south of the accident traffic jam. I missed the big delay completely. Hurray for modern technology – sometimes I don’t know what I’d do without it!

I arrived home at 1125, and was mighty glad to be there. After I unloaded the coach, dumped the holding tanks and parked her in the RV lot, I was done for the day! I was surprised that I had the strength to get all that done without feeling completely exhausted, but I did. And for a couple days or so, I planned to take life very easy and get over this cold or flu.

I was very pleased to be able to visit with my ol’ buddy, Al, during his time of grief. It was good that I was there with him those couple of days after the service when family had left and he’d have otherwise been alone. Even with me gone, Al has his ol’ pal, Tramp, the big bear of a dog that he loves dearly. I’d be staying in touch during the coming days and weeks to be sure all was well with my buddy during this life-altering time in his life.

About FishWisher

Over the years I have posted many exciting fishing and boating stories here, but now in my seventies, it was time to sell the boat and find less demanding pastimes. All the fishing stories are still here! I will now post my travels aboard the motorhome and other activities. I hope y'all will still enjoy the fishing and boating adventures and perhaps peek in on my post-boating activities on occasion. Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoy your visit.
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2 Responses to To Al’s for Memorial Service

  1. George says:

    Sir, your a good friend to Al. Your story prompted me to call an old friend and check on him. I stumbled across your page as I was cruising the net looking at fishing boats. I hope you and Al are healthy and doing well! Happy travels and fishing! George from Fresno

    • FishWisher says:

      Hi, George,
      Yep, Al and are doing well. He called just today to stay in touch. He’s in Oregon and doing well, and even though I’m still stuck in Kalifornistan, I’m doing well, too. We’ve both sold our boats and have given up the fishing in our old ages, but I visit Al and his wife with the RV and have a trip planned there this spring.

      Thanks for the visit and the kind words.

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