Here is an account of my weekend, organized by my facebook posts (in blue):

17 July (Wednesday morning, Eugene)

Is anybody driving up to Walla Walla from Eugene or Portland this weekend? I’ll help pay for gas.

I had originally planned to go up to Seattle on Thursday for my bestest friend Chelsea’s birthday and subsequent party on Friday night, but the sticker shock of train prices and the amount of time I’d spend sitting on a train/bus convinced me to go just to WW and then back.

18 July (Thursday night, Eugene):

After trying to navigate Amtrak, Greyhound, and various flight schedules between Seattle/Walla Walla/Eugene, I’m tempted to just give up this whole trip as a bad job.

I reeeeaaally wanted to see Chelsea, but the schedules were driving me MAD, as were the prices. It was 11pm on Thursday, 18 July. I had already failed to get to Seattle by her birthday (that night), and the last possibility was to get to Seattle the next afternoon in time for her birthday on Friday, 19 July.

THEN I found an Amtrak train straight from Eugene to Seattle, but it left at 5:30am on Friday. So in about 6 hours. 

19 July (Friday evening)

Who’s in Walla Walla this weekend? Because I WILL BE!

I called a taxi to pick me up at 4:45am, caught the train at 5:30am, and was at Chelsea’s apartment by 2pm to surprise the CRAP out of her. Screaming, hugging, grinning, lots more hugging. We went on a ride, then had a great GREAT party with energetic friendly people. I was in Seattle just for the night.

20 July (Saturday night)

Definitely the best weekend in a LOOOOONG time, even despite the 13 hours spent on trains/buses. Partied with Zac and Chelsea (and McKenzie and Talia), saw Luke and Lizzy and Jim and Debi

This traveller is very, very happy to feel at home again.

I got about two hours of sleep after Chelsea’s party, then grabbed the 9:30am Greyhound bus to Pasco, arriving there at 2:30pm, where my friend/family Debi picked me up to drive me the last hour to Walla Walla.

At this point, I’d spent about 13 hours on public transport in the space of two days. So I napped, ate a DELICIOUS meal prepared by Jim & Debi. My former Whitman Cycling teammates Luke & Lizzy joined us. After a year without bikes, we talked bikes for THREE HOURS. 

22 July (last night)

Greyhound, I HATE YOU with a burning hate that will last FOREVERRRRR. And yet I need you. WHICH MAKES ME HATE YOU SOOO MUCH MORE.

Tried to get out of Walla Walla. Greyhound’s site was down all weekend, as was their customer service line, then when I tried to book my buses (Walla Walla -> Pasco, Pasco -> Portland, Portland -> Eugene), I got an “error” message. I finally got ahold of a customer service rep who told me the Walla Walla -> Pasco bus was full, but forgot to tell me that the Portland -> Eugene bus was also full. So I booked the Pasco -> Portland bus, then bought an Amtrak train ticket from Portland -> Eugene. I was somehow going to get from Walla Walla -> Pasco. Somehow.

23 July (today)

People are fantastic.

A family I’d just met offered me a ride from Walla to Portland, going out of their planned route to drop me off at Union Station. The man at the Amtrak ticket counter graciously changed my ticket from the later, 9:20pm train, to the 6:15pm train (which I was JUST in time for), so that tonight I’ll get into Eugene at 9pm rather than midnight.

Now I’m sitting in a cushy, on-schedule Amtrak train with WIFI and a DINING CAR.

Travel plans work out.

Debi & Jim’s friends and their two little girls (a 4-year-old and a baby) were also staying the weekend at their house. They offered this morning to give me a ride to Portland, since they were going to Kelso, WA. It was out of their way, but they were so kind! And they were grateful to me for keeping their girls entertained and calm in the backseat. Heck, after working 7 hours a day with 30 Kurdish kindergarteners, looking after two little girls (one of whom was old enough to speak English) for 6 hours was a breeze. And it was the least I could do for their help getting to Portland.

And for more good news, I arrived at Union Station in time to grab an open seat on the earlier train to Eugene.

No need to stress, I always get there eventually.

Many, many thanks to :

  • Chelsea & Zac for loaning me their couch for the night. And their extra bike. And for feeding me. And for being supernova brilliant awesome people.
  • Debi & Jim, whose extraordinary hospitality is, in their house, the norm. I am so unbelievably lucky to know them both, and to be part of their family. If I am half as generous and loving as they are, I will consider my life well-lived.
  • Wendy & Josh for driving me from Walla Walla to Portland. Their generosity and openness once again affirmed my belief that the world is not so much full of diamonds among coal as, simply, full of diamonds. 

Thank you.

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