It was Memorial day weekend and its been 5 months since I had made a long road trip. Good thing was Vishnu had arrived in Bothell, WA and that is the only state in west coast that I had not been in my 15 months stay.
Initially I was planning to fly to Seattle, but I did not find any place which demanded my attention. As we came close to the long weekend, I finalized the destination to be Portland – The #1 Green City of USA. Its aligns with my wish to make Photography trip as I had never went onto a long trip for Photoshoot with my Nikon DSLR.
As I was trying to know more about Portland, Pradeep, whom I met in twitter contacted me and said he was inspired by my Cross Country scenic drive and wanted a similar kind of tour as he is arriving in San jose for internship. I got to know that he is interested in Photography very much, it took less time to convince me to join him in the trip plan. Great, Vishnu confirmed that he and his friend are ready for the trip while Pradeep was keen get on-road. that makes us four, a perfect number for fun filled scenic tour.
The confirmation of all four turned out be late, which means the flight rates reached sky high and we are left with no option other than drive. Portland is 12 hours from my place and after making all Permutations and combinations, I finally balanced the drive for all of us, which means Me and pradeep would reach to Eugene ( 9 hrs drive from Sunnyvale) while Vishnu and Pradyumna (Vishnu’s new roommate) would drive from Bothell to Eugene ( around 6 hrs drive ).
San Jose –> Eugene Seattle —-> Eugene
Fortunately, I would love the drive than the flight, as I had a bitter experience with flight during my last trip to India. Pradeep had office on Friday, whereas I had holiday and I was waiting for my Camera Lens filters to arrive and later on did pick up some fruits and water from Safeway. Pradeep came to my home at sharp 3 PM, and no matter how many things one would have taken care, there are always few last minute hiccups and purchases which means we had to leave home at 4PM.
At last we were on road only to find ourselves caught in Huge traffic on I-680 Freeway. We drove around 5mph, where as we were expecting to cruise in around 80mph. The traffic was expected during long weekends and it continued for 2 hours and finally we were able to cruise. I took a break from Driving at 9PM and Pradeep after requesting me for a long time, got a chance to accelerate.
Car set to Cruise mode, iPhone tuned to play Kannada songs, We turned out to be AWESOME
Around 2 AM, while I observed one such cop who was dealing with person he had caught, I gradually tried to maintain the speed limit and to mention I was on fast track lane (left most lane). Strangely, as soon as I passed him, I noticed his car with flashy lights turned back on the road. I tried to maintain a vigil on him through rear mirror and was certain he was following me. He had turned off the lights after getting back on road, may be to go unnoticeable.
I was constantly worried of his following and tried to maintain the proposed speed limit but in reality I was driving around 60mph, -5mph than the proposed 65 mph. After following me for 5 min, He switched back his lights, which is an indication to pull over. However, since he did not had the siren, I was not sure if that was directed to me, and took a while before realizing it and few more minutes to find the spot towards right so that I could stop safely.
The cop had parked the car so accurately that his car lights was flashing on the my car mirrors and I was not even able to open my eyes. He politely mentioned that I was stopped for going slow by 5-7 miles less than proposed speed limit on a fast track lane( left most lane). He took the rental car registration and my driving license and went to back to his car. Meanwhile, my I started to shiver, as I was worried about the HUGE fines slapped ( I had already payed 2 fine for different purpose) and what could be black point in the driving history, which would in turn trigger my Auto Insurance rates. After 20 minutes, The cop came and handed over registration card, but that 20 minutes was enough to completely block my mind and by seeing the registration card with the flashy lights all around, I thought he was issuing a Ticket as I found number 280 in large font size. I asked him, could he let me with a warning as I was under-speeding than overspeed, for which he mentioned it was jus a registration card and he did exactly what I am asking for. He was very polite in the whole process and also insisted to exit to next rest area, if I was feeling tired. He asked me about why did I took so long to make a stop after he signaled. I explained that i could not find a right spot which he understood. It is the one thing I admire US police, as they really understand the situation, without blindly slashing fines, even though he could have as per law (again Its my observation and hearing experiences ).
Once I realized I was let out with warning, I was relieved and got back to track and trust me for rest of the trip, I kept a tight check on speed and drove mostly on right most lane (slow lane) even though I did not want to do it. it is just the incident at the back of your mind makes you take such decisions,
Finally we reached Eugene at around 2 :30 AM 1.5 hours more than expected time. Vishnu and pradyumna already had a good sleep. We chit chatted for a while and and fell asleep.