Day 437 to 440 Salem to Cottage Grove OR. – 90 Miles


20151120_131534When I left the Hampton Inn in Salem, I had a couple light layers to protect me from the cold. Of course I knew that I would heat up quickly. It was a stretch where I would not take a break. Crystal had plenty of work to keep herself busy and I didn’t feel like having my body cool down. I found myself working through the back roads. Every few minutes I spotted mile markers on the side of the road. When I passed a dozen miles I stumbled upon an out of the way RV park. There I pulled out two sweaty steaming dollars and put them into a vending machine. I received a Dr. Pepper and two quarters. These items became minor irritants on my way to the La Quinta Inn and Suites in Albany. The empty bottle occupied my hands while the two quarters jingled in my breast pocket. At least I had quenched my thirst.

20151120_155102I reached Albany while the sun still shined. Everywhere I looked, ducks waddled and quacked. The held up traffic as they took their time pecking at the road. Crystal delivered news of Red Robin donating our dinner. I wanted to get out of my wet clothes before my meal so I headed for our room. I spotted an enormous hot tub with a bunch of jets when I entered. I knew I would spend the greater part of the evening in hydrotherapy. But first we headed out for our gourmet meals.

20151120_164531Everyone at Red Robin was so kind and personable. The manager Mr. Montes made sure we had plenty of food. Our waiter AJ checked on us every few minutes and offered many helpful suggestions. We started the meal with a mint brownie shake. It tasted just like the name. My gourmet mushroom veggie burger was the perfect partner for the shake. The onion rings were cooked to perfection. We left the place smiling even though the cold evening air had set in.

20151121_120409The next morning when I left town I ran past more ducks blocking traffic. I couldn’t help but laugh at how oblivious the ducks were to the dangers of oncoming traffic. The little gangs of ducks reminded me of Huey, Dewy, and Louie. It was nice to have a little laugh before I got into the rural areas. As I ran the light stayed bright. There was no trace of rain. My legs continued to feel powerful because of the low miles I had been putting on my body. The security of having wide roads gave me more confidence against the motorists that cared little for runners. I reached the town of Halsey around four but decided to put in a few extra miles while Crystal planned our dinner. I felt great in the middle of nowhere. My surroundings reminded me of California. It felt good knowing I was getting closer with every step. My destination felt tangible and it helped keep my legs light and fast.

20151121_161837Crystal had found a place to park on the side of the road and that is where we made our camp. It was cold outside but our heating system continued to pump warmth into our humble habitat. It growled and screeched but it kept us from becoming popsicles.

20151123_135545The miles continued to fall as I made my way to Eugene. This was the home of the Oregon Ducks and of course the place where Steve Prefontaine attended school. I ran into the Holiday Inn in Springfield/Eugene and rushed up to my room as quickly as possible. I could feel the degrees falling with each passing day. Perhaps it was good for my running because I never wanted to stop until I reached my destination. Whenever I thought of dry clothes, my feet would run faster and I would push my body harder. The heated room and hot bath were my rewards for surviving the biting cold days.

20151123_143930Eugene was a very health conscious city. I was super excited to be in the town and surprised that the local ABC affiliate was came out to cover my story. As luck would have it, the reporter, Chenue was from Minnesota and he knew the reporter that covered our story in the Twin Cities. My world seemed to shrink by the day. The interview was short and I was glad to get a somewhat early start to my day.

While I made my way through the city, I encountered many stoplights. I was able to run a good portion of my city miles on a path in the middle of the street. There weren’t many turns once I reached highway 99. I ran the straight road with little hesitation. Motion was the only way for me to stay warm. I knew the consequence of stopping. My muscles would get cold and tense. All I could do was keep pushing forward. I had to climb the last bit of road and at some parts I found myself in the middle of the street. The day ended in a thrift store parking lot. We called the day at that point and wandered over to a nearby retail store. I had noticed the area around our exhaust had a layer of black soot. We knew it was a bad sign and we went into the store looking for an inexpensive alternative for our heating solution. We had to find one or we would face the cold winter with just our blankets. We had thought we were in the clear when we made it to Seattle but if this trip has taught us anything, it’s that surprises are around every corner.

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