I left on Monday morning. The skies were still hazy from the Sand Fire. The commonly-used description was "apocalyptic." John helped me load up the van, and stayed outside to see me off. As I started driving down the street, John started waving his arms for me to stop. I did, and opened my door--one of the van's little quirks is that if you roll down the driver's window, it doesn't always roll back up. John asked, "Did you hear that?" I hadn't. John and I traded places, and then I heard what he was talking about: a horrible clanging; it sounded like someone had emptied the contents of an entire toolbox in our engine. We quickly decided that I really wanted to take the other car instead. John helped me move everything from the van to the car, and I was on my way. (John ended up taking the van into the shop, where it was determined that the van had a bad axle and bearing. We definitely made the right call!)
I drove north under hazy skies. After many miles, the sky finally resumed its normal blue hue. About that time, though, I observed something that was anything but normal. You might remember the time I saw a woman trying to rescue a pigeon. At least that woman was on the shoulder of the road at the time I saw her. On Monday, I noticed a woman who was clearly upset. She started on the right-hand shoulder of I-5, but as the cars went by, she shook her fists in the air, yelled at the vehicles, and ran into the lanes of traffic! I was driving in the second lane, and I was so relieved that she didn't run out in front of me! I was also relieved that no one hit her, and that I had seen a motorcycle officer on the side of the road just a minute or two before. I imagine that as soon as he got back on the road again, he saw her and got her the help she so clearly needed.
From that time, the drive was (thankfully!) rather uneventful. There was a time when traffic came to a standstill, but it was also right at an exit where I saw a Costco. I took the exit, filled the car with gas, and bought some raspberries. By the time I got back on the freeway, traffic was flowing again.
|Photo: Mt. Shasta, with green trees in the foreground|
I stopped in northern California to take a photo of Mt. Shasta. Soon after, I arrived at my stopping point for the night: the Super 8 in Yreka (not to be confused with Eureka). Yreka is a little town of 7,500 with cute mom-and-pop restaurants and antique stores. I waited in line behind a retired couple to check in to the Super 8. The employee at the desk was friendly. As I walked to my room, I noticed a young family swimming in the pool. The most unusual thing I noticed was the really bright green color that my room was painted. The room was clean and well-kept, though. Nothing made me feel like anything was amiss.
The next morning as I left my room to go to breakfast, something was clearly amiss. The entire parking lot was filled with what had to have been the entire Yreka police force. Officers were milling around, and some were taking particular notice of a car in the parking lot. I had no idea what was going on, but I knew it couldn't be good.
When I went inside the breakfast room, other guests were talking. A woman said that a policeman had told her that a man had been shot in the stomach, and that he had died. I later learned that he hadn't died, but that the case was much more involved that "just" a shooting.
Tuesday night, I looked online for news about what had actually happened. The suspect apparently had killed a woman in Oregon, kidnapped another woman, drove south and shot the man in the motel, carjacked a car--with part of a family inside--from a gas station in Yreka (I almost filled up in Yreka on Monday morning, but for some reason, did not), then led police on a high-speed chase, before finally being arrested. Here's a link to a news report about it.
I was so glad to arrive at my parents's house on Tuesday!
Have you ever found yourself a little too close to a dangerous situation?
Thanks for safety.