#27–High wind warnings . . .

Last week I talked about the stormy conditions on the coast not realizing that our biggest storm since 2007 would hit within a few days. On Monday afternoon, wind picked up and continued to worsen throughout the evening. I listened to the weather reports and realized that we were in for a really big blow lasting for the next 24 hours or more. Winds up to 80 mph were predicted, so I was glad I had no plans to go north or south on the coast the next day.

I did, however, plan to go inland about 60 miles to Eugene. I had spent much of Monday on the phone planning stops at the airport, historical museum, and several bookstores, where my book Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges is currently on sale. I wanted to see if anyone needed more books for the holidays. I also wanted to check with the Eugene Public Library to see if they would like to buy a copy for circulation.

The airport was a maybe, the museum wanted four books, J. Michaels Books a no, Smith Family Books wanted two, Black Sun Books closed on Monday so I left a message, Tsunami Books returned my initial message and wanted four, and I endured a prolonged trip through the library voice mail. I eventually got a real voice who routed me to another voice who gave me a name of the acquisitions person for history books where I left a message on his voice mail. Whew!

Since I would be pitching the book at the library, I scheduled that stop last. The airport, which is west of town and very familiar, I scheduled first.

Because Eugene is bisected by the Willamette River, it has numerous bridges, and it has lots of one-way streets—my nemesis. Over the years, I have developed routes that I stick to. Otherwise, I still get lost. On this trip, only the museum was on one of my routes. When I first delivered books to the bookstores last summer, my friend Jan acted as navigator. Without her, I would need a Google map to find each one as well as the library. So I went online, got that accomplished, and plotted my trip. Then I went to bed.

The wind awakened me numerous times during the night. Things kept going “bonk” on the roof (mostly Douglas fir cones and small branches) and strange sounds came from the chimney cap, which did not rip away—the screws held!

As I was eating breakfast and marveling that the power was still on, I heard on KCST, the local radio station, that the wind gusts at Sea Lion Caves were 82 mph and on the Siuslaw River at 52 mph––within the past half hour. I live on a ridge inland a couple miles that is a straight shot from the ocean and located midway between the Caves and the river. Based on my past 26 winters here, I rated these gusts at 60 to 70 mph. The trees were gyrating wildly and the winds were fierce. It was plenty scary, but there wasn’t the freight-train-coming-through roar of the 90 to 100 mph gusts we’ve experienced a few times over the years.

When I opened the garage door and saw the tall firs bending dramatically and felt the wind strength, I questioned my sanity about leaving the safety of home in a storm such as this. But I had called 511, ODOT’s Tripcheck number, and there were no problems reported on Highway 126 between Florence and Eugene. So I prepared to leave.

I had my books and invoices for delivery and PR info for the library. I also had all my rain gear. Knowing that there are several gaps where there is no cell phone service in the coast range, I always have my safety gear, including a sleeping bag in case I get stuck. I also had Sue Grafton’s S is for Silence to listen to on the trip over and back. Nothing like a good murder mystery to keep me calm.

The road heading down my hill was totally littered with branches but passable. Then, no debris by the time I got to Highway 101, just the fierce winds buffeting my car. As I turned east, it wasn’t 10 miles before I was out of those strong winds. Still windy yes, but mega winds no! So no debris littered the road, and the rain gradually let up too. By the time I got to Eugene, it was overcast but quite bright with breezy conditions and an occasional sprinkle in the mid-50s. No problems. I was glad I’d come.

Because of a couple calls I’d made before I left, the airport was still a maybe, but Black Sun needed no books. So first stop was the airport where I left a written message for the manager.

Next, I stopped at the museum and dropped off four and then headed to the university area after checking my Google map. I parked at a 7-11 and bought coffee before taking the books next door to Smith Family Books. Since parking is impossible here, this seemed a good plan.

Then I checked two Google maps and headed out Hilyard, to 18th, and onto Willamette to Tsunami Books. I was navigating and making adjustments––since I didn’t have to go by Black Sun––and trying not to get lost. It felt really good to spot the bookstore and find parking right in front. Scott at Tsunami took four books and indicated an interest in hosting my PowerPoint presentation. He gave me his card. So far, so good!

Since I was at 26th and Willamette and needed to go to 10th near Willamette. I checked my next map and headed out confidently. Even though traffic by now was heavy, I found the library easily. I didn’t see any parking, but it was close to Kiva, a great little natural foods corner store that also has fresh bakery goods. So I parked next to Kiva and went in and bought a giant scone.

Eugene’s library is a big-city affair in a grand, multi-story building where I felt somewhat intimidated and had to ask directions. I made my way to the second floor to the reference desk and waited to see the person in charge of history book acquisitions. Everyone was small-town friendly, including Shawn Grant the young man who, after briefly looking at my book, decided he wanted it. So off he went. When he returned, he had the petty cash to buy it. He also indicated that they might want another copy in the future. I was a happy camper when I left.

I headed out 11th, which becomes Highway 126 and is a straight shot all the way to Florence. I stopped on the edge of town and called the airport store manager again. This time I got him, and he didn’t need any more books. So I went a little farther and found a scenic spot near Fernridge Lake on my way home and had my lunch, including my giant scone.

Kinsey Millhone, Sue Grafton’s scrappy private eye, and I headed back across the mountains. We got into some heavy rain midway and the wind picked up after Mapleton. By the time we got to Florence, it was just as wild as when we left.

I was glad to get home and find the power on and no damage—just debris and small branches everywhere.

My trip to Eugene tallied 11 books sold and one new venue—not a bad day. Coastal stormy weather didn’t stop me from going inland, but I would’ve never ventured north or south with winds recorded at 82 mph. A semi-truck crossing the Alsea Bay Bridge in Waldport shouldn’t have been on the road either, as his rig was blown over with the force of the winds. The accident blocked traffic for hours. So the moral of the story is to check road conditions and be ready to change driving plans when the weatherman says, “High wind warnings at the coast!”


Judy with Crossings sales/book signing at holiday book fair:

December 4, Sunday, noon–5 p.m.––Oregon Historical Society’s “Holiday Cheer: A Celebration of Oregon Authors,” meet Oregon authors who will sign/sell books, $5 admission (free for OHS members and those under 17), Portland (1200 SW Park Avenue)

Judy’s PowerPoint presentation with book sales/signing:

February 19, Sunday, 3 p.m.––Port Orford Library, Port Orford (1421 Oregon Street [Hwy 101])

About crossingsauthor

Judy Fleagle spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.Since 2009, she has written five books: "Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges," "The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans," "Around Florence," "Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known," and "The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!!."
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2 Responses to #27–High wind warnings . . .

  1. Evelyn Leach says:

    Wow, what a trouper you are, Judy. Having said that, I can recall many times when I’ve questioned my sanity upon heading out in our exciting-at-times coastal weather, but I’ve yet to regret it. I’ve been at Heceta Head Light when I had to hang on for dear life to the metal railing to stop from being blown off the bluff. Great stuff! But that’s part of the reason we live on this uncomparably beautiful Oregon Coast, isn’t it? Congratulations on your continued success with “Crossings.” The Pulitzer isn’t far behind!

    • I’ve gone storm watching–mostly wave watching–when it would’ve been wiser to be at home, but hey, that’s one of the reasons we live here “on the edge!” Love your commetnts! Enjoy the holidays!

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