Summer is in full swing and hopping on flights as stand-by passengers to navigate our way around the United States hasn’t been as easy as we thought it would be. Getting stuck in the Philadelphia was just the beginning. To get from Columbus, Ohio to Phoenix, Arizona, we had to fly east to go west with a connection in Washington DC.
After Phoenix, we headed to Oregon to visit Kris’s parents, who live in the coastal town of Florence. The closest airport to their town is in Eugene, but there are no direct flights there from Phoenix Sky Harbor. We considered a stop in Los Angeles, but those seats quickly disappeared. In a last minute decision, we got on a plane in Phoenix headed to Portland, which put us 172 miles from our final destination.
We looked at all options for getting to Florence, Oregon – planes, trains, buses and automobiles – and were stumped. The flight from Portland to Eugene was full. Trains only departed from downtown Portland – and the daily departure was too close to our arrival time to make the connection. A single, one-way ticket on a shuttle bus airport-to-airport was an astounding $60. Multiply that times two people both ways and it cost more than renting a car. So, to the car rental counter we went.
We decided that having a car for the week would be the best option and it also relieved Kris’s parents of having to make the roundtrip drive to Eugene twice within the span of a week. Kris took the wheel for the three hour drive and headed south. While the drive on I-5 is pleasant and direct, it’s fairly flat and bland.
It’s not until the turnoff in Eugene onto Route 126 that the ride takes on a scenic appeal. As we moved past farmland, we started the climb in the Oregon Coast Range, peaking at 769 feet at Cougar Pass. Enveloped in forests of soaring evergreens and following curvy and winding roads, we put the windows down and let the scent of clean earth waft through. We rode alongside railroad tracks, passed through the Petersen Tunnel, and cruised through small towns before following the Siuslaw River into Florence.
Although driving is rarely our first choice in mode of transportation, passing through this part of our country reminded us that some of the most beautiful parts of the world can’t be seen by bus or plane. And, if those beautiful roads take us to see family and friends, all the better!