Mt. Hood

The first time I saw Mt. Hood, I wanted to cry, but not because of its grandeur. In the year 2000, my daughter and son-in-law planned to move across the country, from New York to Oregon. They rented a large moving van for their furniture, and a trailer to tow their car.

They arrived in Minnesota, where we live, in August and then we followed them in our car to South Dakota for a family wedding. Steven, our son-in-law, had to return to New York to finish up his job before transferring to Oregon. He flew back from South Dakota, and Ronda and I drove the moving van to Oregon.

When Ronda first asked me if I’d consider helping them in this way, I asked her, “Are you sure we can do this?” I’d spent two summers working at a camp for college students in the Rocky Mountains; I knew how huge those mountains are. I envisioned driving a big van on twisty, narrow roads like the ones up to the camp. Scary!

Ronda’s reply exuded confidence. “Of course we can! I just never think I can’t do something.” My husband encouraged us to go for it. “You can do it—you’re both strong confident women.”  I know Ronda is, but was he talking about me, his wife? Surely he knows what a chicken I am!

Our first day on the road took us through North Dakota, a pretty straight shot. To my relief, I discovered the van was easy to drive. Our only challenge that day was finding restaurants, gas stations, and a motel with parking that didn’t involve backing up. Neither Ronda nor I had time to master the technique of  backing a vehicle with a trailer behind it.

The next day found us in Montana, where a forest fire was raging. We watched the sky turn brown and the sun, a hazy orange. We witnessed helicopters dousing the fire with their load of water or chemicals. The air was thick with the acrid smell of burning timbers. When we stopped for the night, I asked the motel clerk how close we were to the fire. He nonchalantly replied, “Oh, we’re a good thirty miles away—nothing to worry about.” I slept fitfully, fully expecting a knock on the door warning us to evacuate.

Thankfully, the highway through the mountains was nothing like the roads in my Rocky Mountains summer experience. For two days we drove up and then down, over and over. The scenery was breathtaking, when I dared to look at it. I worried about the brakes failing and the truck plummeting down the mountainside. I usually fall asleep as a passenger in a car, but on this trip I didn’t doze off once.

I felt hemmed in by the mountains and was becoming a bit claustrophobic. I couldn’t wait to hit level ground again. On our last evening before reaching Portland, we pulled into a small town after dark. The next morning when I saw yet another mountain in the distance, Mt. Hood, I almost panicked. I said to Ronda, “Please tell me we don’t have to drive over that mountain too!” She studied the map and assured me we didn’t.

I thanked God for that, and also for bringing us safely through the Rockies to our final destination, Ronda’s new home.

Now when we go to visit Ronda and Steve we fly over the mountains, and I can’t wait to catch a glimpse of Mt. Hood as it towers over the city of Portland. Not only is it awe inspiring, it reminds me of God’s faithfulness to me, his cautious, nervous child.

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