Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Matthew 26:27-29 (context)
Yesterday my AmeriCorps cronies and I met together in Othello, WA. If you’re like me, you need to look it up to have any idea where that is. Let me help you out with that.
As you may notice if you zoom the map out, that city is in eastern Washington. In perfect weather, it takes about 3 hours to drive from Seattle to Othello. I left the house at 6:15 to meet my carpool at 6:40, aiming to arrive at 9:30. Unfortunately, as those of you who live in Washington know, yesterday’s weather could hardly have diverged more dramatically from “perfect weather.” This is what we saw as we drove over Snoqualmie Pass:
Happily, Mom had equipped me with 15 freshly-baked hot cross buns from Hillcrest Bakery to share with the three guys in my carpool. We didn’t starve or freeze, and we made it to Othello under extremely ominous, dark clouds.
As you can see from the map, Othello isn’t exactly a large or happening town. When Heather and I planned this Pod meeting, we struggled to find activities for our group to do that would be educational and that would take up more than 30 minutes at a pop. Eventually, we settled on visiting the Grant farm — they give tours — followed by a BBQ lunch there, and then going for a hike in the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge. On the way to the farm, we all had to pull off the road to make way for some huge farm equipment moving slowly down the road.
At this point, we had clearly left Seattle far behind. Jane Grant’s tour of her farm, which took place despite howling winds and drenching rain, reinforced how different life is when you make a living off the land versus off of…well…the computer, I suppose. Jane was passionate about planting breaks around various fields — they hold 600 acres — and then watching as the birds come in. She and her husband have farmed there for 41 years, and seemed to have done pretty darn well. Most of all, I got a sense of joy from listening to her. She chose this life and lives it fully and passionately. I can only hope to have done the same when I’m pushing 70 years old.
After slogging around long enough to get completely soaked, we retreated to the warm haven of their ranch home — a true ranch home, both in style and location. There we prepared the BBQ we’d planned, but just indoors instead. Lots of people put their jackets or pants in the dryer and borrowed dry pants and socks. Jane and her husband Pirie were incredibly welcoming, wonderful people. They never asked us to leave, but about 2:00 Heather and I felt we’d taken advantage of their generosity long enough. Eventually we wrangled everybody into Phase 2, the Refuge hike.
As you can see, the clouds cleared up and the sun actually came out for a while. This inspired people to decide to try camping overnight there, where before as we walked through the muddy fields in the rain, they had leaned towards driving home that night. Even so, two other guys wanted to leave that afternoon, so we split up after the Refuge hike. The two guys and I went off, leaving the rest of the group to set up camp sites and check out the local bowling alley.
I’m not wildly enthusiastic about bowling, but I think that I might have preferred bowling to the nerve-wracking drive home. As we approached the pass, the clouds thickened and eventually covered the sky completely. Then it started raining, and then we got into the pass and the rain changed to snow.
Not long after that, a sign warned us of a collision ahead. The next sign mandated chains for all non-four-wheel-drive vehicles. We had neither chains nor four-wheel-drive, but the driver just moved from western Massachusetts. I felt that if I had to ride in a car in that snow, better him than somebody else. Even so, we both sat in tense, anxious silence as we drove up the pass and then down the other side. Eventually we fell in behind a large, slow-moving semi-truck and just stayed there, driving comfortably at 10 mph in the truck’s tracks. Most of the way down, maybe 5 miles from Issaquah, we started seeing a huge backup of vehicles on the other side of the road. Turns out they closed the pass for a while. Boy am I glad we left when we did.
That was definitely the safe and prudent thing to do. Sadly, that meant I arrived at the Good Friday dinner for church at 8:45 rather than 8:00 as I had hoped. Plenty of food remained, though, and I sneakily inhaled deliciously-seasoned baby potatoes while they talked about the meaning of Good Friday and Jesus’ sacrifice for us. It’s not that I take Jesus’ death lightly, but I had to catch up on dinner before dessert! After dessert, of course, we socialized with lots of people we barely know. Ian said later that the dinner just reinforced how friendly and wonderful the people at our church are, and that this is definitely the right church for us. For my own part, I focused on getting through the meal without snapping at somebody or seeming extraordinary churlish. My long day in Othello and trying ascent/descent through Snoqualmie Pass left me pretty well drained.
That said, here’s today in a nutshell: Mom and Dad tried and failed to go to Bolivia; will try again tomorrow. KDOG door hanger “event” in the morning – met up with 3 KDOG members and gave door hangers to distribute. Also dropped off door hangers at Marymoor and Spot Wash. Got home and Ian had my new computer up and running. Spent the rest of the day eating, reading, and setting up the new computer. Very fast but can only support one monitor so far.