Birthday Parties, Family, and Ford Focus(es)

(not to mention Enterprise car rental, which made my attendance at the birthday party possible).

On November 2, 2011 my aunt turned 80. On November 5 her family (my cousins) threw a big party for her in Chelan, Washington where she lives. I had seen my aunt in August when she came to Bend for her annual high school reunion but I hadn’t seen any of my first and second cousins in literally years (some of them I’d never even met at all).

The party was first discussed on Facebook, and I made up my mind that I would be there if I had to walk the *whole way there and back* 🙂 because Aunt Virginia is the last aunt or great-aunt I have left.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chelan,_Washington

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bend,_Oregon

The distance between Chelan, WA and Bend, OR is 356 miles each way. Now its not realistic to walk 356 miles (actually 712 miles) when I only had not quite 3 days (Friday morning through Sunday evening) to get there and back. I only have a debit card, and I had found out a month or so ago that most of the bigger car rental agencies who used to NOT let you use a debit card to reserve a car now do.

Granted, they charge you a deposit that is generally more than the car will cost in the end, but I was ecstatic that I could get there relatively cheaply.

My only other options would have been:

1) a flight from the Redmond Airport to SeaTac (in Seattle WA area) and then another flight to Wenatchee (which is still 30 miles or more from Chelan). A round trip flight from Redmond to Seattle would be close to $200.00 with another $121.00 for the Seattle to Wenatchee leg. I would have had to take a shuttle, bus, or taxi from Bend to Redmond. And someone would have had to pick me up in Wenatchee

2) taking the Central Oregon Breeze (shuttle) from Bend to Portland and then fly to SeaTac from Portland (I would still have had to take the flight from SeaTac to Wenatchee). The only shuttle stop here in Bend is a 4.6 mile trip (each way) from my house, and in 2008 when I took the shuttle I had to take a taxi back and forth from where the shuttle leaves (the taxi cost $15.00 each way not including any tip to the driver–it may have gone up in the last 3 years). Round trip fare on the shuttle is close to $100.00, round-trip flight from Portland to Seattle is $122.00, and again the flight from Seattle to Wenatchee is $121.00 round trip.

The car cost slightly under $200.00 plus gas. The Ford Focus gets great gas mileage; according to Edmunds.com it gets between 36 and 40 mpg (highway driving). The gas tank was 3/4 full when I picked it up, I filled it in Madras Oregon (about 42 miles from Bend) simply because there is not a Safeway filling station in Bend but there is one in Madras (I had enough fuel discounts from buying groceries at Safeway here in Bend to get $1.00 off per GALLON so that was good too). I had almost half a tank left when I got to Chelan, and only filled the tank when I left because I knew I didn’t have enough gas to get to Biggs Junction, OR (besides, gas prices in Biggs Junction are always higher than almost anywhere along the Columbia River gorge

http://www.safeway.com/IFL/Grocery/Home

http://www.safeway.com/ifl/grocery/club-card

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madras,_Oregon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biggs_Junction,_Oregon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbia_River_Gorge

I hate flying anyway, it always upsets my stomach, and short flights upset my stomach even worse

Budget Rent-a-Car wanted a 350.00 deposit for the 3 days, and would do a credit check on top of that. In addition, I would have to make my own way there *by bus* and my own way back *by bus, taxi, or on foot*

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_Rent_a_Car

Enterprise Rent-a-Car’s deposit was 100.00 cheaper for the 3 day rental, no credit check, and they would pick me up on Friday morning as well as bring me home on Monday morning after I dropped off the car. They also provided insurance for me that would cover anything that would happen (after I sold my truck last summer there was no need for car insurance).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_Holdings

It was a no-brainer to choose Enterprise. I had originally reserved a bare bones vehicle but when they picked me up Friday morning I decided to go with something a little more luxurious since it was a 6-8 hour drive. I ended up with a 2011 Ford Focus with air conditioning, GPS, automatic windows, automatic transmission, etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Focus

Another thing I really appreciated was that I forgot my drivers license and Enterprise’s staff drove me home to get it.

I loved the car, except for the fact that it was a floor shift not a column shift. I kept trying to shift it with the windshield wiper control–at least 5 times!

I kept thinking of when my father had done the same thing 30 years ago when he started driving a Datsun pickup truck with a manual transmission (floor shift) after years of driving a Chevrolet Blazer with an automatic transmission (column shift). I laughed my head off when he tried to shift with the windshield wiper control; his reaction was “it’s not that funny.” And I now agree especially since I did it so many times; as far as I know he only did it once.

I have this vision of him sitting in Heaven–he passed away in December 2007–laughing his head off at me!

The first time I did the “shift with the windshield wiper” I couldn’t figure out how to turn off the windshield wipers either. I finally stopped in the parking lot at the North 3rd street Albertsons grocery store (here in Bend) and finally managed to get the windshield wipers turned off

I also could not figure out how to control the automatic windows, they were either all the way up or all the way down. I couldn’t figure out how to completely turn off the heating/air conditioning either so I was either freezing or burning up!

Despite all the fun with the windshield wipers, windows, and the heating/air conditioning, I did manage to get to Chelan and back all in one piece, and I had a wonderful time with my family.

Great weather (cold but sunny), lots of good food, meeting the cousins I’d never met before, seeing the cousins I hadn’t seen in years, meeting my aunt’s friends (most of whom had heard of me, luckily all good things). The day of the party was also my 52nd birthday, and I was so happy to be able to afford to leave town for my birthday (it was the first time since 2008 that I had money to do that, and I really couldn’t afford the trip in 2008)

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