Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Great Cat Delivery Expedition

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor wash outs of Highway 101, nor maniacs waving guns from their burning cars, nor backwoods Santas with messages of doom, nor flooding of the Coquille River, can stop the delivery of rescued cats to their appointed new home.

Munchie and Powder are Munchie and Powder no longer!  They are now Margaret and Melanie---delightful new names for two terrific and deserving girls now in a new home and a new state!  But it wasn't that easy getting them there!


First, their new California owner, who wanted them to stay together and adopted them so they could stay together and get a stable cat loving home for sure, was going to meet up with me, to do the cat hand off, in Coos Bay, at high noon yesterday.

But then came an obstacle:  highway 101 washed out above Gold Beach.  She would be driving up the coast and me down the coast, after crossing through the Coast Range from the valley.

My brother told me the wash out didn't seem so bad, and that a good detour was in place.   One of his workers had driven through it.   So I offered to make a longer part of the trip and meet her in Gold Beach at about 12:30 yesterday.  I left at 7:00 a.m. with the girls in the back, full of excitement for the adventure.

I worried slightly about the drive along the Umpqua on 38.  If there are slides and rockfalls, that's where it would happen on my end of the trip.  With all the rain we've had, rockfalls along that stretch are common.

I stopped at the Reedsport Elk pull out, to use the bathroom.  Too much coffee.  My WA friend had stopped by the day before and left me with gifts of my greatest desires! Peppermint hot chocolate.  Peppermint coffee!!  And Peppermint Chocolate bars.  I'd had a few cups.  The bars were in my glove box.

The elk were in a small area near the highway to avoid all the high water in their usual forage area.

I was home free and I knew it.   I was five minutes from the coast.   It was only 9:00 a.m. or just about.   Coos Bay was a half hour away and Bandon half hour beyond that.  Then I'd just drive on down to Gold Beach from Bandon.  Home free.

I drive on to Reedsport and am about to go through the last light before leaving town, when two deputy SUV's come up in my rear view mirror, lights going like crazy.  I move over.

By the time I get to that last light in town, an ambulance is moved across both lanes and two guys in orange reflective jackets are holding big stop signs.   I'm only the third vehicle in the stopped line.  I think to myself, "There's been a wreck.  If I hadn't stopped at the Elk Place, I'd be home free."  It was true.

But it wasn't a wreck that happened, I found out later, but something else, that included an officer involved shooting, on the highway, between Reedsport and the little town of Winchester Bay, four miles south.   Some Subaru was driving erratically and passed an empty school bus then stopped in the middle of the highway, car on fire.  The bus driver got out to go help the guy in the Subaru, but he was waving a gun and the bus driver backed off.  Officers arrived, the guy was out of the car, the car was on fire and there were small explosions from cans inside the car bursting, and at some point the  police shot the man with the gun.  He's alive but in critical condition.   I never found out any of this until hours later.

 I was roaming around Reedsport trying to find a work around.  I figured there had to be back roads or logging roads that would let me get around the area of the wreck.  Locals told me there were no back roads, however and that the logging roads were gated with locks.    I was then being told it could be 8 hours before they reopened that major highway---101.

It was hard to accept.   Call off the cat delivery?  No way!   The adopter agreed.  We talked on the phone.  If there was a way around, do it, she said.  She would wait, and also she would drive north, beyond Gold Beach, through the highway wash out area down there, and meet me in Bandon.

I knew I'd have to drive 50 miles back to I5, then down past Roseburg, and through the Coast Range on highway 42, through Coquille to Bandon---over three hours more of driving, just to get there.   My reaction?  Woohoo!!!!   What a day, what an adventure!

As I was driving back along 38, a car that had been right behind me, suddenly vanished.  I stared into my rear view mirror, trying to comprehend why.  Then I knew.  They had GPS and were going to try to get through via the back roads behind Loon Lake.

I turned around.  Why not, I thought.  Why not?

Down the seven miles I drove, to Loon Lake, along a narrow two lane road, smeared with mud in places, along a usually benign but now swollen and dirty creek.

Loon Lake, muddied with storm run off from swollen streams.

Map of the backside of Loon Lake is here.

When we were young, Saturday afternoons, we often loaded up and went driving.  We would drive the back roads, sometimes til we got stuck or half lost.  Lots of people did that then.   Now, with all the big safety fears that seem prevalent, I don't think a lot of people drive the back roads.  And everyone has a GPS.

I knew the backside of Loon Lake connects somehow with the east river area of Coos Bay, and that it isn't that far, via the back roads, from Ash Valley behind Loon Lake to Gold and Silver Falls, up the Allegheny outside of Coos Bay.   But I also knew it was a maze of unmarked possibly washed out roads, with maybe debris blocks.

I'm a block head, with an adventuress spirit.  Off I went!

In fact, my heart and spirit thrilled to think of exploring the mountains.  But then I'd get a wisp of guilt blowing through, when I glanced behind me to the sleeping girls in the back.  Endanger myself, that's one thing.  But put them at risk?   That was tougher to brush aside.

I did so for a dozen miles.  Then I ran into a white bearded man with knobby Oregon white knees in plaid knee length shorts in the backwoods.  I saw no reindeer nearby.    I rolled down my window and said "I can get to Coos Bay eventually through this way, can't I?"

"No, no.  You'll get lost, or the roads are washed out or trees are on them.  You can't go through there without a sleeping bag and bags of food for when you get lost."

"Who doesn't carry a sleeping bag," I said, "Duh! And as for food, I'm loaded down in food.  Including these."  And I fanned out three peppermint chocolate bars, like currency, in one hand. "I think I'm good." I saw a glitter of desire cross through his eyes then fade.

"You've gotta to turn back or you'll die."  Backwoods gloom and doom Santa was right.  Better judgement clouded into my brain.

I looked at him, frowning with skepticism.  But then I looked at the girls in the back, and my resolve faded.  I was so close to the Coos Bay south slough I could smell it.  Twenty miles tops, I thought, through these hills.

Instead I turned my little mud speckled car around and retreated back to Loon Lake's muddy shores, back along the swollen creeks, and finally to highway 38 again.  I turned right and never looked back.  Off we went, but we didn't go to I5.  I took a cut off road I'd never taken before, a highway though, quite safe, 138 east it's called, if recall, that took me to Sutherlin, crossing and crossing back over the Umpqua all along the way.  I was so delighted with the scenery I could barely notice the time slip by.

Onward to Infinity.

In Sutherlin, I used my magic card, the $100 gift card that came to me as a great blessing on the Astoria trip with cats for dentals, and a time share promo.  Two hours of listening and the gift card was mine. Free and clear. I could barely stop thanking the time share people and kissing their feet because of what $100 would mean to me.  I had told them straight up I had no money to invest in their time shares although I told them I knew they were probably lovely.

So the gas for the great cat delivery was a gift from the time share promo people.  THANK YOU!

I drove on past Roseburg then took the Winston exit and was on 42 and another hour, I was in rain soaked Myrtle Point, in a parking lot, calling my adoption friend, who was, herself, sitting in a parking lot in Bandon, merely 20 miles from me at this point.  Off I went, through the flooded Coquille valley, to Bandon.

The dike that crosses fields, as you leave Coquille heading west for Bandon.   It floods sometimes, but this time, the water  came to the edge of the road, but was not yet over it.

That's actually a deer grazing in the grass beyond the flood water, vertical center of photo, and a bit to right of horizontal center.

Ducks in the flood.
And finally I was there, right where she said she was waiting, and we hugged and met and transferred the girls and went in and got a Subway $2 veggie sandwich and talked about the wild day and that we were both glad we stuck to it, and weathered out the problems so the girls could get their home.

She said the pavement wash out of 101 was huge, like a hundred feet, and she wished she had gotten a photo.  But the detour around it was good.  We tried to find out if I could return up the coast, rather than make the long trip back via 42.  But we couldn't find out.

I was so happy to meet her, a California cat woman I'd met online awhile back, and to hand over the girls, whose lives had been so hard here, in Albany.  Now they have a new chance a new state and new person to love them.

Onward.  It was nearly 4:30 when I pulled into my brothers shop in Coos Bay.  He was near done for the day and we looked up online about what had gone on in Reedsport and yes, the highway was open now.   He loaded me up with candy and cookies given him, trying to get it out of temptation's reach, I suspect.  Aren't we all doing that about now.

Off I went again.   Three or more hours left to drive to get home.  And I got home and I sang the last half hour of that drive because I was happy.  I'm still happy today.  I had adventure, I did.  I met a really nice woman and two cats that suffered in Albany are in a home and have a new chance!

That was my day yesterday.  A lovely day I say.


  1. A really, really lovely day. Thank you for your determination and perseverance.

  2. They are settling in nicely. They have the bedroom to themselves. They are friendly and talkative. Margaret and Melanie have the nicest chirpy cat language.
    They have also hissed the rest of my cats to the front end of the house! They'll get used to each other in time. I have a gentle and tolerant bunch!
    Tired today from that drive and sitting in truck but I think you had the worst portion of the driving misadventure!
    The girls will do fine here.
    Thank you! And Merry Christmas!
    And that peppermint chocolate bar got me home last nite!

  3. Isn't that peppermint chocolate awesome? I love it!!! I melt with peppermint, but mixed with chocolate, or coffee, or hot chocolate, I go away to heaven. And my friends know this and load me up. It was an adventure, Autumn, and so wonderful to meet you. I hope we can do a trip, meeting halfway again, camping or something, next summer. I know they'll be fine there with you. Thank you so much for offering to take them. I didn't know what to do, and knew their chances were slim to stay together being adopted from a shelter. What a relief when you offered to take them. So happy we stuck it out yesterday.

  4. Can I make an online donation to you as Odd Cat Out South so I can get a tax deduction? I couldd donate to the dental fund again but I would like to send it to you to do with what you want


  5. Stephany, I emailed you. Yes, you can donate to the fundraiser site, and the money will go directly into the Poppa bank account, that I can also use for cat food, litter, flea treatment, all those things that I'm always needing.

  6. Another exciting chapter for that book you should write!