Semi trucks line the side of the road putting on chains. I am lucky. I can go over the snowpacked interstate with the excellent snow tires on my Prius Snow Leopard. Sure, I'd love to have an all-wheel-drive Subaru. But the Prius gets 43 miles to the gallon and makes this long distance relationship financially more doable. Neither Teri nor I is rich, except in spirit. We are thankful for decent jobs. Warm, dry houses. The ability to make good decisions when it comes to driving over the Blue Mountains in winter time.
The mountain cabin and the beach condo are 90 miles apart, with the Blue Mountains in between. The pass at Meacham is about 4,200-foot elevation. The mountain cabin in Cove is at 3,000 feet above sea level. The beach condo in Milton-Freewater is at 1,200 feet above sea level.
I am the designated driver in the relationship. It makes sense. I work in La Grande, which is 75 miles from the beach condo and 15 miles from the mountain cabin. Teri works in Walla Walla, which is 100 miles from the mountain cabin. This means on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons I have a shorter commute — just 75 miles compared to Teri's 100 miles.
It's a beautiful drive Over the Blues, most days. Pine forests cover the mountains, and in late spring wildflowers blossom in meadows. Occasionally, we'll even see a herd of elk, near Meacham usually. Then there is the descent off Cabbage Hills, six miles of 6 percent grade, or ascent in early morning with the lights of Pendleton flickering in the distance.
When we made our commitments to each other, we knew what we were getting into. It's a big investment in time and energy, but having a lifelong love makes it all worthwhile.