The first two days of Oregon Pinot Camp—the formal seminar program and tastings—are over, and this morning, for the first time, I have an opportunity to post to my Vintage Highway blog. I’m sitting at the table in my Airstream on the first leg of a two-week trip to wine country in the Pacific Northwest—parked behind a horse stable at Stoller Vineyards between McMinnville and Newburg at the top of the Willamette Valley—and it is raining. My electric heater is pumping warm air on my bare feet, and I couldn’t be cozier. Later this morning, I head over to Domaine Serene for my final session of OPC: out of eight special events, I decided on this one because it includes a helicopter tour of the valley. The potential for getting airborne is doubtful, however, unless this weather and low ceiling improve. I was warned at the closing salmon bake last night, though, that Oregonians are never deterred by rain, so we’ll see.
It took parts of two days and roughly 11 hours of driving to get up here, following I-5 all the way. Leaving Auburn proved to be challenging, however. I stopped by my beloved’s office to pick up a GPS unit, leaving my Airstream parked on the side of Auburn-Folsom Rd. I came back to discover the electronic security fob had broken off of my key ring, so I was unable to start my truck. After a panic call to my son, Drew, he went to my house and picked up my back-up. Thank the good Lord that I lost the damned thing at home rather than somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. First thing when I get home, I’m having the system disabled.
After spending my first night in a really cheesy RV park outside of Ashland, Oregon, I got on the road promptly at 7 a.m., with the goal of reaching my home base of Stoller by 1 p.m. Barely 20 minutes into plying the freeway with Howard Stern as my XM Radio companion, I heard a huge “bang,” the sound of metal smashing into metal. Within minutes, a dummy light flashed on my dashboard, alerting me to a tire problem.
Exiting immediately, I pulled into a “Food 4 Less” parking lot and quickly discovered that my right front tire was punctured. At 7:30 on Saturday morning, I was not optimistic about getting finding help and back on the road. After inquiring at the store, I learned about Bill, the owner of a tiny, independent tire shop built into the side of the discount grocery. He appeared promptly at 8 a.m. clad in a classic, dark blue jump suit, with a cigarette dangling from his lips.
Bill agreed to look at my tire, but I had to first drop the trailer and then drive gingerly to his work bays. After putting air into my Dunlop, he said “No problem. . .give me 20 minutes.” He not only fixed the tire, but without prompting, he also checked the air in the other three. When I asked how much I owed, he said “Fifteen bucks.” I happily handed him a twenty-dollar bill and told him to keep it.
Remarkably, I was back on the freeway in little more than an hour. After calmly taking the flat tire in stride (absolutely no cursing!), I was rewarded with the good fortune of finding Bill. Talk about yin and yang. . .I’m all about karma. . .though I will admit panicking 10 minutes up the road when I couldn’t find my cell phone. Pulling over to the shoulder, I methodically searched the front of the cab, only to find my Android tucked into the pouch of my windbreaker.