Ned Luce

Yes, my friends, the odor created by refinishing some wood floors will drive you out of your own home for awhile. 

We decided to take a road trip to Hood River correctly thinking that was far enough. Michael Morrow, described by my friend Mike Kenna as the “grandfather of wood floors” in Jefferson County, arrived about 9 a.m. Monday and we were gone by 10. 

We settled on a strategy to avoid I-5 by taking the scenic route down 101 along the Hood Canal and then out through the mountains. We made it to Eatonville in time for a little late lunch at a restaurant seemingly catering to the firefighters in the area. (That should have been a hint we should have noted.) 

Then we headed to Randle where we made a right turn on to Route 131 quickly followed by missing the left turn on to Cispus Road. We noted the error but a cursory check of the map convinced us we could continue on and with a minor course correction get to White Salmon, just a short bridge crossing from Hood River. 

Route 131 turned into National Forest Road 25 skirting the east side of Mount Saint Helens. This road became a significant challenge to the suspension of the Porsche as well as our bladders. 

A campground 25 miles into the 55 miles of NF-25 facilitated bladder relief in one of the least attractive restrooms in the state. However, it was a relief. 

After enduring the 55 miles we came to a “T” where we intended to turn right. A nice Washington state employee manned a barricade restricting a turn to the right so we stopped to consult with him. He assured us that a left turn would lead us to washouts not suitable for low-riding cars. He would not let us take the right turn because of the smoke and fires that direction. 

So, we used his exceptionally clean and welcome porta-potty. He encouraged us to backtrack and head into Cougar and get route advice. We almost missed the lightly populated Cougar and actually saw no one. We finally got to Amboy, filled up with fuel and figured out where we were. The expected 4- to 5-hour journey ended up being 10 hours and an additional 100 miles.

We had a nice couple of days in Hood River enjoying the views of the Columbia Gorge with a drive on the historic Columbia River Highway from Mosier to The Dalles. We drove the 35-mile “Fruit Loop” south of Hood River stopping to check out a couple of wineries and fruit stands. “The Old Trunk” is a delightful antique store, fruit stand and ice cream parlor on the loop owned by Kari Platt, the daughter of former resident of Port Ludlow, Kay Brownwood. To honor our local friends Vic and Sharon Draper we made a stop at the “Draper Sisters” cidery. 

Then it was time to make the trip home, avoiding the potential delays caused by taking the scenic route we chose traveling I-5. 

We arrived in Camas around lunchtime and decided to take in the community formerly inhabited by neighbors Harold and Sheila Brunstad. Natalia’s won our business even though we had to eat outside given the, well you know, that COVID thing. There was a customer there who noted my Wabash College face mask, confessing that he almost went there. Great news was that he had heard of Wabash, sad news was that he chose Bowdoin. 

Back on the road, I-5 North! BJ was asleep as we passed the sign warning of a detour caused by an overturned truck that had dumped fuel all over the highway. The sign also encouraged consideration of an alternate route. I erroneously did not wake BJ to discuss any alternative routes we might pursue and she awoke about the time the traffic came to a virtual standstill.

Three hours and 15 miles later we finally got off the highway and followed the detour. After 10 miles of country road we made a rest stop just before reentering I-5 needing to merge with the traffic being let through the reopened crash site!

Another 5-hour trip that took
10 hours! Unfortunately we ignored the advice from Buddha. “It is better to travel well than to arrive.” Hey, the floors are great.

Love a curmudgeon, wear your mask, test negative and stay positive!

(Ned Luce is a retired IBM executive who lives in Port Ludlow and, like Willie, just can’t wait to get on the road again.)