Week 1, Day 0: 14 December – Boston > Oregon

(written by Carole Brown on her way to meet The YesWeCan CamperVan)

What a day!

Starting with a long and arduous flight from Boston to Portland, Oregon, on Monday 14th December, I was beginning to wonder if this road trip was a good idea after all. I’d been on the phone with American Airlines earlier in the day and also after I’d arrived in Portland, to ask about flying to Medford instead of taking the overnight Greyhound Bus. I wasn’t looking forward to an overnight 7 hour bus journey and was all caught up in the thought of that. Plus it was dark and raining in Portland and I was very tired. It was already past midnight Boston time and there were hours still to go.

But then everything changed on meeting Darlene, a lady who was sitting quietly at the airport in Portland waiting for her ‘graveyard’ shift to start that night. On hearing my sigh as I flopped down into a seat next to her, she looked me in the eye and asked “Did you pray this morning?”.

In that moment, I was brought back to the present and time stood still. In an instant my worries and exhaustion were put on hold and my heart opened up to appreciate how lucky I was to be making this journey. I returned her gaze and thanked her. “That is exactly what I needed to hear” I said, as I packed up my bags and asked her name. I knew it was an important moment.

I went down to the ticket machines for the train to downtown Portland where I was to take the 11.45pm bus to Medford. My $50 bill was too large and the ticket price too small for a credit card. I needed another 75c for my ticket. A lady asked me if I needed help and gave me the extra coins! I never got her name.

I pulled my two cases along the train platform and boarded the train as fast as I could as it was now only just over one hour before my bus left downtown. Three young men got onto the train and I asked them where to change for the Greyhound Bus station. They gave me clear directions and I settled down in my seat. Minutes passed and we waited for the train to leave, but we waited some more, and then some more. I was beginning to realize that the time to get to the bus station was getting to be very close to the time remaining. And what if the second train was a long time coming, I would then miss my bus for sure. On approaching the change point, I asked the three young men if I should travel closer into town on this train and maybe get a taxi. “We’re getting off where you change. I’ll ask the driver if the next train is close behind.” While his two friends helped me with my cases, he ran to the front of the train to ask the driver. “it’s OK, there’s one right behind. We’ll wait with you until it arrives”. After a few minutes of waiting on the cold rainy platform, and no sign of the train, I was beginning to panic slightly at the thought of spending a night at the bus station. I was now praying every few minutes.

The guys were talking quietly to each other. “OK! We’re going to drive you to the Greyhound Bus so you can make your 11.45 departure” and with that they whisked away my cases and I ran behind to their car parked in the station car park. As we drove to downtown Portland, I could see almost nothing in the blackness of such a rainy night, yet I heard about the city. That it is the 7th most intelligent in the USA, that a recent study showed it has the highest incidence of depressive illness in the country, and that the recession has hit it harder than most. And that these three guys played together as a band and would not have been coming back on the train at that time if their night had gone to plan, but their recording session had been postponed.

Within minutes I was at the Greyhound Bus station. The guys carried my bags, waited while I purchased my ticket and even took me to the gate. We hugged goodbye and I thanked them for their kindness. We exchanged email contact info and I asked them to join my Facebook page to follow my journey. I couldn’t thank them enough. I got their names – Devin, Flip and Grafton. I’ve yet to get the name of their band, so please watch this space for more about them and their music!

As I boarded the bus and we drove into the night, I heard Darlene’s words about prayer. My prayers on the train had been answered so well and so quickly that I was dazed. I had a strong feeling I was on the right track after all and the sense of trust, that had come to me in October when I’d bought the VW camper van, had been restored once more.

Overnight from Portland to Medford, Oregon

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