24 minutes in Oakland and Cottage Grove, OR

Posted on
Oct 21, 2010

My husband is a very safe driver. But sometimes, it is incredibly dangerous for him to be behind the wheel. He won’t cut people off. He won’t speed excessively. He’s considerate in most every way. But sometimes, the amount of control he has over where we will end up (bequeathed on him by his default status as driver) has led to some mildly disastrous detours.

And so, when we were driving back up to Portland from Ashland, Rand declared that he wanted pizza at precisely the same time that we were driving through nowhere. Rather than take heed of all of those otherwise ignored freeway signs, that list whether or not food, gas, or lodgings are available at a particular exit, Rand instead took the next off-ramp he saw.

There was no sign denoting food.

There were no restaurants in sight.

Hell, there wasn’t even a way to get back on the freeway.

Instead, we found ourselves on another smaller highway, with no means of turning around. A highway that led us deeper and deeper inland, and farther from where we needed to be, until we finally found ourselves in Oakland, OR. The soundtrack to the drive consisted of Rand’s apologies, my heavy sighs, and, rather perfectly, Break Me Out by The Rescues.

I can only assume the Oakland Plaza is far superior to the Ashland Plaza.

I can only assume the Oakland Plaza is far superior to the Ashland Plaza.

Downtown Oakland. I may have uttered, They REALLY get their own football team?

Downtown Oakland. I may have uttered, "They REALLY get their own football team?"

“Don’t I take you to all the best places, baby?” Rand asked as we drove through the four square blocks that comprised Oakland. We stopped only to use the bathroom at the city hall/senior center/library – the one-room-classroom equivalent of governmental buildings. We found the way out of town, eventually – a bridge only wide enough for one car. A stoplight indicated when it was our turn to go through.

On our way back to the freeway we stopped in Cottage, Grove. Compared to Oakland, it was a metropolis.

After all, Cottage Grove had shopping …

How much is that uzi in the window?

How much is that uzi in the window?

And even a bookstore. That’s always a good sign.

It even had mediocre art for sale. This was a comfort.

It even had mediocre art for sale. This was a comfort.

There was even public art, though Rand and I predicted they simply cemented over a past-out homeless guy.

Like being frozen in Carbonite, but more fatal.

And there was a kid advertising his religion on a sandwich board.

Why does no one ever use a sandwich board to promote sandwiches? TRUST IN GRILLED CHEESE.

Why does no one ever use a sandwich board to promote sandwiches? "TRUST IN GRILLED CHEESE."

Finally, though, Finally, we found pizza.

Though perhaps “pizza” is too good a word. What we found was no closer to pizza than Skittles are to fruit. We walked in, saw the slices lying under glass and walked out, all without pausing. It was seamless and swift, and I don’t think anyone behind the counter even noticed. We got back into the car, and managed to find the freeway.

24 minutes in Oakland and Cottage Grove. If I had to do it all over again? I wouldn’t.

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