You Cannot Go Home Again
Author Thomas Wolfe wrote a novel titled, You Cannot Go Home Again. My sister, Tracy, and I learned the meaning of that when we visited our dad in Bremerton, Washington.
We left Saturday morning, April 16th, and it was a gorgeous Arizona spring day. Perfect day for traveling, and that first day was uneventful. We spent the first night in a hotel in Tonopah, Nevada. Right across the street from the infamous Clown Hotel. Paranormal enthusiasts will recognize the Clown Hotel from a Ghost Adventures episode.
Clown Hotel is a known haunted location. When we drove out of town the following day, the hotel looked like it belonged in Las Vegas. We didn’t get any spooky vibes from the place. We chuckled at the balloons and decorations on the doors. The 2nd day was another uneventful drive until about an hour or two outside Klamath Falls, Oregon. Tracy had to use the facilities, so we stopped at a town with only one gas station.
I talked to the cashier, who warned us of an impending winter storm that night. I had read about the storm, but the initial report stated it wasn’t due to hit until Monday night. The updated weather report said the winter storm was hitting Sunday night. The original information was 1 to 3 inches, now corrected to 5 to 10 inches.
Looking at the fast incoming gray clouds, we decided to make a run for Medford, Oregon, instead of Klamath falls. The journey to Medford was made in record time, arriving just as the storm came, and we woke up to large fluffy snowflakes. We were ready to tackle the snow after hitting the Starbucks drive-through and cracking jokes about the lousy weather.
We were ready to turn around and head back to Maricopa, Arizona. Snow is not something we see very often. We realized we had to drive through Siskiyou pass to get to our final destination of Bremerton.
We hit our first whiteout at the top of the pass a few white-knuckled minutes later, making it to the lower level. It was still snowing, but not as bad at the top. We hit another whiteout in Portland, Oregon. Tracy used the facilities again when we approached Castle Rock, Oregon.
Castle Rock and the following two towns had no power, and Tracy could not use the facilities. We finally found a rest stop, and yes, they had a power outage. When a lovely lady told us about the truck stop, Tracy was ready to use a tree.
Tracy and I were so glad to arrive in Bremerton, Washington, on the third day of traveling. We settled into our hotel room that night, and we stayed in that hotel room for the next eight days. Not once did they change the sheets or make the beds. We even had to get a roll of toilet paper from our parents because they didn’t bother to replace our toilet paper.
We had planned to mix pleasure with visiting our parents. Yet, it rained, hailed, and snowed every single day we were there. Trace and I joked that Washington was mad at us for leaving. Then we joked about now we know why we went in the first place.
Tracy and I had a great visit with our parents, even with the bad weather, and the following Saturday before Easter, we went to the Pancake House for breakfast. Many of our relatives had to work Easter, so this was a way for us all to get together. Many of us got together for Easter, where we had dinner after watching our great-nephew Asher hunt Easter eggs.
It was a wonderful Easter, and it was a great visit with our family. Yet, Tracy and I were ready to go back to our desert. We left late Tuesday the 19th. There was another Winter Storm Advisory for the mountains, so we took Highway 101 to I-5 and then to I-10. Of course, it was raining, and the rain followed us to Garibaldi, Oregon, where we spent the night. The heat in our hotel didn’t work, so we froze our tushies off. We made it an early start after getting coffee through a drive-through.
Our original plan was to drive to Sacramento, California, and stay the night there. We were ready to get home, tired of driving in the rain. We decided to continue driving that night. The rain finally stopped outside San Bernardino, California. We were two hours outside Los Angeles when I accidentally went through a truck bypass on the freeway.
The trucks, not happy at our slower speed, nearly ran me over after flashing their lights at me. We pulled over at a local truck stop, where we slept four hours. Afterward, we decided that breakfast at Denny’s was what the doctor ordered. Except, we drove around the truck stop and couldn’t find it. So, we went through the Starbucks drive-through, got coffee, and headed back to the freeway.
At the entrance of the I-5, we came to Denny’s. Of course, we would come upon it then. We catapulted onto I-5, where I swear the cars were trying to run us over. It was then that Tracy told me she was sorry she took me to the California Grapevine. She had forgotten about this stretch of road and wouldn’t have brought me this way if she had remembered. The Grapevine has a reputation for being a wild drive through the San Bernardino mountains.
I have driven the 495 beltway, 395 capital beltway, and Maryland’s route 50, but I have never driven anything like the Grapevine. I never want to drive the Grapevine again. After a few grueling hours of driving through California, we made it across the Arizona border and into sunny weather.
We were home, and it never felt so good being home and surviving what we thought was the trip from hell. Thursday afternoon, we were worn out and tired, but we made it home.
Friday morning, I woke up with body aches, a pounding headache, and a fever. I figured the symptoms were from all the driving we did. Wrong. A few days later, when the symptoms didn’t subside, Tracy took the at-home test and tested positive for Covid. We talked to our parents; both tested positive for Covid, and so did our sister, Kelly.
The only place we were all together was the Pancake House since we were all exposed simultaneously. During two years in Arizona, I never got Covid. Then I go home to visit my family, and we all get it.
So, I think Thomas Wolfe knew what he was talking about when he said; You cannot go home again.