“Please reconsider, Frank. Don’t make me go alone,” I implored as I laced up my sturdy, leather walking shoes over thick wool socks.
My husband had been listening to my entreaties for weeks and had good-naturedly countered every one. Now, as my actual departure time drew near, I pled my case with renewed intensity. Frank regarded me with amusement.
“Sweetheart, come here,” he said, pulling me to the picture window in the living room of our country home. “Look at that view. Even after a year, I get a thrill every time I see it.”
The view was indeed spectacular. I gazed at the enormous, snow encrusted expanse of Mt. Adams, a volcano unknown to me until our move to the Pacific Northwest. Directly to the southwest stood his infamous sister, Mt. St. Helen and to the northeast, the majestic Mt. Rainier. In between lay a host of lakes and rivers, state and national parks, and evergreen studded hills and mountains.
“My big adventure was moving us out here, Kate. If I never step foot off these five acres again, I will be a contented man,” he said. “But, it’s different for you. You have been looking forward to this for a long time. You’ve spent countless hours planning and preparing. The truck is well stocked for emergencies. You can do this without me.”
Even after Frank’s assurances and our parting prayer, my quelling heart reflected my misgivings as I drove the truck solo down the long dirt road. Frank was right to stay home. Shouldn’t the mere act of living between three volcanoes be enough adventure for anyone, especially a southern born flatlander? Hadn’t we felt the tremor of an earthquake just yesterday?
The impact of my foot automatically hitting the brake accompanied by the sound of spraying gravel jerked me abruptly from my reverie. I swung the steering wheel sharply, screeching to a halt inches before landing in a roadside gully. I sighed with relief as a black tailed deer bounded safely across the road into the dense woods. She seemed blissfully unaware that she had narrowly missed becoming the main dinner course for a dozen or more species of forest inhabitants.
Too late, I heard Frank’s voice warning me, “This is the rutting season. Drive slowly until you reach the highway.”
Thankfully, I did remember to wait a full minute before resuming my trip. Two bucks sprang out from the trees in hot pursuit of the doe.
I stepped on the gas only to brake again. With amazement, I watched as a group of fifty tall, long legged elk sauntered across the road.
‘What’s next, Lord?” I murmured ruefully. “A mountain lion? A pack of coyotes? How about a black bear on an eating binge before hibernation?”
I locked the truck doors. All had been sighted recently in our neighborhood.
In true Northwest fashion, the bright sky disappeared behind the clouds and rain began to sprinkle on my windshield. By the time I arrived at the entrance of the two lane highway, the “Volcano Evacuation Route” sign was almost completely obliterated by heavy rain.
From this point, I had a one hour drive to reach my destination. Sending up another prayer, I turned onto the highway almost clipping a logging truck that roared out from nowhere.
My thoughts flew back to Frank at home throwing another log on the fire and getting ready to do some work on his computer. I could picture my cats curled up on cozy cushions around the room, while our dog napped near the hearth.
“Lord, I must be insane,” I wailed. “Is this venture worth risking my life?”
The whooshing sound of a passing car gave me cause for alarm. Was that car really crossing a double yellow line to pass me? And on a curve, no less. Unbelievable, I thought.
Oh, gee, I looked in my rear view mirror to see several cars following his example. My neck and shoulders ached from the tension of driving in such adverse conditions.
Just as quickly as it came, the rain stopped and a brilliant sun revealed that I was finally approaching the highway exit for my destination.
Frank was right again. I had made the journey safely on my own, with the Lord’s help. I also knew that this trip was worth the peril as the gigantic white letters came into view – WALMART.
I pulled my shopping list out of my purse. Thank God, I had brought along two ice chests.
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