I think it was during the early spring of 1997 when Barb needed to get away from it all. We arranged for two work-weeks, and three weekends – sixteen days in all. Financially, we were not prepared for such a venture, so pinching pennies was the name of our sudden game.
Barb was working days, nursing. I was hauling jug milk from a dairy to Albertson stores, both over the mountain and to the coast, six days each week, leaving town at one o’clock each morning and returning home shortly before noon.
On the Saturday morning in question Barb packed the car with our necessities. Two zero-degree sleeping bags, a two-person tent, a Coleman stove, an Outback oven, clothing, and our new electrically-powered sandwich maker, while I caught a nap.
The shadows were long when we locked the house and headed for a destination that was yet to be determined. We discussed Lake Tahoe, but with heavy snow in the mountains we knew it would most likely never become a reality.
Darkness soon caught us. With nothing to see, we headed south on Interstate 5, arriving in Medford at a very late hour.
From here we intended to head into the Cascades while the ice was still sticky, making Medford was our last best chance for a variety of groceries. Having been in Medford during the wee hours three days each week, I knew that Food 4 Less stayed open 24/7. But I’d never had the occasion to visit the market.
The choices were overwhelming, and we were still deciding when I heard the familiar “Johnny-Pop-Pop” sound of a two-cylinder John Deere farm tractor. I’d almost decided I was hearing a sound-alike when I caught sight of a green John Deere C Model traveling along an adjacent aisle. My first reaction was to rub my tired eyes and look a second time. No change. It was indeed a farm tractor. However, a closer inspection indicated it was fitted with a large floor polisher that was getting the job done ASAP.
The meat counter had been heavily picked over, and a meat cutter we remember only as “The Whistler” was restocking his display with great zest – whistling while he worked.. We’d considered a couple of pounds of hamburger, but the meat cutter’s whistle had reached a deafening pitch. In self defense, we grabbed a few packs of wieners and called it good.
At checkout we found a silver bell in place of a person. I pushed the button. Evidently, a truck had arrived, because in a minute, or so, a burly young man wearing a soiled shirt and a red Buffalo Bill cap emerged from somewhere in back and checked us out. We were good to go.
The sand truck had not yet serviced our icy, mountain road, so our progress was slow. The sun was up by the time we reached Lake-of-the-Woods, which was frozen over, of course. Fortunately, a small pavilion, in which someone had neglected to switch off the power, was clear of snow.
Alas! It was time to find the wieners and try our new sandwich maker.