West Coast Road Trip CHAOS! (Part 1)

Before my big trip out to the Far East, I took a road trip with my sister from the Bay Area, CA to the greater Portland Area, OR to visit my folks, brother and various relatives. Here’s a map of our trip:

Our trip has consisted of wonderful, often overlooked road-trip rituals, included eating junk food and engaging in some serious sing-alongs (video will be uploaded at a later time).

excellent road for a road trip

excellent road for a road trip

The drive from the Bay Area to Portland is really beautiful. You begin in the foggy, familiar San Francisco skyline and end up lost in the Northern Cal mountains and passing by Mt. Shasta. Lucky for us, Joy and I were able to enjoy the scenery for a considerably LONGER period of time than any other car driving through the area. Against our will. Observe…

Exhibit #1

Here I am with my dear Mr. Honda with his skirt (or would it be a kilt?) up for the world to see his privates (see Exhibit #1) about 3 miles before the CA/OR Stateline. He’d pooped out due to the heavy load he was hauling, the incline, and Joy and I stupidly leaving the A/C on full blast.

30 minutes, 1.5 quarts of oil, and a bottle of coolant later, we were back on the road. Mr. Honda was purring like a baby and for a split second, I thought to myself, “Maybe we WILL make it up to the other side of the Oregon in my faulty 1996 Honda Accord that has already failed on my once.”

Exhibit #2

40 miles later, steam was streaming out from under the hood again and we were ready for Round 2 of the big fight with Mr. Honda (see Exhibit #2). We figured we’d just overheated again, and were hoping that we could just wait it out as we had at the border.

Alas, it was not so… we stopped again, only THIS time, we were on an incline going up the final hill of the infamous Grant’s Pass. With numerous semis and tons of other cars blasting past, we desperately tried to give Mr. Honda some more water, coolant, anything to soothe the super hot radiator and engine, but nothing seemed to work! He just kept steaming and spitting everything back out the radiator.

At this point, we knew we were on our last leg and had to get help. Since we were on an incline, we figured we’d just get to the peak of the hill and then cruise down on neutral and exit at the first turnoff (about 1 mile away). Like the little engine that could, we chugged our way up the hill, steam flowing out from under our hood, and finally started down hill. I popped Mr. Honda into neutral, but Joy was not satisfied. Now, something you should know about my younger sister is she generally keeps things under control and she gets work DONE. So when she panics, I also panic, but I try to cover up for that by keeping her calm. At this point, we’re cruising downhill at the posted speed limit in neutral, but as I’d mentioned before, Joy simply was not satisfied.

“I think you need to turn off the engine. It will stop the steam.”

My gut is telling me that turning off the engine in a car that is going down a curvy road at 50+ mph is NOT the greatest idea, but since she’s been the one calling the shots up until now, I go against my gut and switch off the ignition. I suddenly realize that it will soon be time to break.


“What… WHAT!?!?”

Two helpless Asian girls who were just trying to cool down their car were suddenly two hopeless women, plummeting to their death! I hit the brakes REALLY hard and we eventually started slowing down and made it safely to the closest exit in Sunny Valley, OR (see Exhibit #3) which reminded me of the old kayaking film Deliverance in ALL THE WORST WAYS POSSIBLE.

Exhibit #3Exhibit #3

At this point, Joy and I knew there was no hope left for Mr. Honda- at least not for today. After receiving generous help from some (somewhat shady) locals, our parents decided to have us stay in Grants Pass for the evening and attempt to make our way north the following morning. Joy and I SLOWLY backtracked about 3 miles up and down the same hills we nearly killed ourselves on (which took about 20 minutes since we had to stop every 7 minutes or so to refill the water in our radiator and cool the engine down) and ended up at the lovely Comfort Inn. To top off the eventful day, we evaded eating dinner at the local Sizzler (as their clam chowder had “a pinkish hue” and the potato salad was “neon yellow” according to Joy) and laughed about our hilarious adventure at Denny’s over bagels, Boca Burgers, and fresh fruit.

There IS more to this story, but given that it is already incredibly long, I will save the rest for the next post!


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