Christian and I (and Tina separately) drove to Spokane Friday night to be with my parents at their friend Shirlie's funeral. She was their neighbor and very close friend for ten years, and took many adventuresome back country road vacations with them and my parents' other very dear friend Genette, who is my unofficial aunt, one of the few true ass-kickers and my personal rock star. Shirlie and Genette were man-bashers of the highest order and could drive my father, not a faint-hearted man, from the room in five minutes. One time on Father's Day, which was pretty funny. Their blistering condemnations of the useless men in their young lives were worthy of my generation's drunken Bridget Jones' type tirades and in-your-face feminism. We'll miss Shirlie tremendously.
Saturday was a lovely day, sending Shirlie off with a beautiful funeral (though with horrifying-to-the-very-depths-of-my-snotty-overeducated-soul music, cantored by that most heinous breed of Broadway wannabes in the style of scoop, sing three notes, run out of breath, sing three notes, scoop, etc, repeat ad nauseum), visiting my fabulous Grandma and her equally fabulous daughter Kay, who is also my Godmother and is getting remarried this year. Lovely, lovely, lovely, everything was lovely.
So, Sunday, we woke up early and said a fond goodbye to my excellent parents and their artery-defying breakfasts to drive back Seattle in time for the Eye-to-Eye behind the scenes tour of the Day and Night Exhibit at Woodland Park Zoo at 1:30. I had been intolerably excited about this little excursion for months, MONTHS I tell you! We registered for the same class last spring, but it was cancelled due to low enrollment. Why??? Who wouldn't want to lovingly stroke the reticulated python??? The D&NE is my FAVORITE exhibit and I could sit there for hours watching the armadillo run crazy laps and the slow loris wave his furry little butt at me, as if to mock my inability to shove my hand through that glass, grab him and smuggle him home in my purse. Anyway, on this tour we were going to hold the snakes (woo hoo!), feed the frogs (WOO HOO!) and pet the loris and sloths and such (WOOOOOO HOOOOOOO!!!) and I was going to collapse from sheer overabundance of cutey-cute-cute-cuterness and have to be resuscitated and carried out on a gurney. Then, if that wasn't enough to render me insensible, we were going to go to the UW Bookstore for a reading and signing of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, as the novel was released in paperback last week. All the glorious, fabulous, heart-breakingly marvelous things I love in one day!!!! Ack!
Anyway, we left in PLENTY of time (8:30, way too early to be up on Sunday) and the day was nice and blah blah blah. I fell asleep while Christian was driving but he woke me up outside of Moses Lake.
Christian: Honey, do we take Snoqualmie?
Me (cranky and disoriented): Uh, yeah. Hello, how many times have you done this drive?
Christian (ignoring the snotty comment): Well, the electronic sign up ahead says Snoqualmie Pass is closed.
Me (suddenly very, very awake): Nuh uh, no way. It can't be, there's no snow. Maybe we just missed part of the message and a lane is closed or something. Let me call Mom.
Ah, ever helpful Mom, whom I always call in a crisis. She was fortunately still home and concerned in the way that only moms can be concerned; the gasp of breath, the shout to the father to go to the computer and look up the Washington State DOT's website, all the right and reassuring things moms are supposed to do (a side note: my cousin Mike's wife Amy always says that news, good or bad, gets the most dramatic response from my mom and her two sisters, so if we're mad about something, their vicarious anger is the best sympathy EVER.). She read to me that the pass was closed due to a rock slide and it wouldn't be reopening until two that afternoon. No....nooooooooo!!!!! IT COULDN'T BE!!!!
My dad began shouting alternate directions (in that very dadly kind of way) we could take to get home without crossing the pass. We took his advice and the Hwy 97 exit after Ellensburg and, at first, what a grand suggestion that was. Look! No traffic! Look! Blewett Pass and Old Blewett Road! Old Blewett Road again! And again! Damn, that's one windy road! It was exciting as Blewett is my unmarried name. I stopped to use a portapotty (oh, the horror) and we thought we'd be home in time to change first and make it to the zoo. I passed a few slow moving cars and then started to see a few more. And a few more. Then a whole lot more who weren't moving at all. The last sign we had seen read fifteen miles to HWY 2, which would take us to Monroe and then the 522, leading us home. By the time we reached the jam, though, we had only gone a mile or two after the sign. Could this backup stretch all the way to the junction? Nah, I thought, there must be an accident up ahead. There were a lot more people than usual on this highway, so maybe one of them misjudged a turn or something. I hoped for carnage and a swift speed up once past the accident. However, we just slowly rolled along, stopping more than starting, and could begin to see around the bend and the long, long line of cars stretched out in front of us, barely moving, and all of the people who had gotten out of their cars to mixturate in the bushes and stretch their legs. No accident, it would prove, just so much traffic at the 97/2 junction that traffic cops had been deployed to direct all of us pissed off big city drivers. It took two hours and a lot of screaming to finally get onto the 2. We had to pee, we were hungry and we were beyond pissed. It was 1:30 and the next sign said 126 miles to Seattle. We had missed our tour. I was too furious to cry. No lorises! No 18 foot reticulated pythons! No smelly sloths! No creatures of any description for me to pocket subtly and add to my home zoo. I was crushed. CRUSHED.
We stopped in Leavenworth (does every store sell the same nutcracker and t-shirt with the realistically-sized lederhosen screened on the front??) for lunch as I just couldn't make it any further without driving off a cliff. So...hungry.... I bought Aplets and Cotlets to carry me through the rest of the journey and a blown glass frog Christmas ornament to add to my collection and we started back. It seemed as though stopping for a while helped to clear out a bit of the traffic. Then HA! Whatever laws of the universe govern cars and their drivers dropped every piece of crap Dodge and chaw chompin' driver in my lane at the same time.
At one memorable point in this drive of doom, the road split into a slow lane and a passing lane and EVERYONE stayed in the passing lane. Well, everyone but me. I'm sorry, but the stupid tax states that if, when faced with an 80 mile traffic jam, you don't take EVERY opportunity to pass all the assholes whose driving makes sure you never get out of the traffic jam, you have no one to blame but yourself for sitting for three hours more than you could have if you had taken the passing lane. So, I sped by about fifteen cars and a nice man let me in at the end of the lane. Well, obviously I'm the lead lemming and so everyone followed me. This reeeeeeally didn't sit well with the drivers of a HUGE truck (tiny penis, tiny penis) and the driver of a Scion (who wasn't 17 and disgruntled, but WT and mustachioed) and they decided that NO ONE should be able to pass EVER and they crossed the dotted line dividing the passing and slow lanes and STAYED THERE for 150 yards, thusly preventing anyone from making headway. Hate people. Hate them.
We reached Gold Bar and the 30 MPH speed trap at six, reached Monroe (15 miles later and too late even to visit the Serpentarium) at seven and were finally home at 7:30, eleven hours after leaving Spokane. I was so mad and shaky and exhausted I had to clean. I scrubbed the holy shit out of the kitchen. Poor Constanze had been shivering in the freezing house all day, I had left the beans I didn't use for the chili out all weekend and they got a slimy, smelly gunge on top, the garbage smelled of spoiled chicken and there was coconut all over the living room floor. We were one step away from being on Animal Cops. Finally, I sat and watched Coupling for while (love Tivo) and went to bed, dreaming of asthma attacks.
It turns out that three women died in the rock fall. Lucky bitches. I'll bet there are no traffic jams in heaven.