From the moment we decide to follow our GPS—I call her “Oh, Claire,” as in “Oh, Claire, we’re lost again!”— I know we’ve decided to take a different kind of trip home. Automatically we punch in “home,” see our address, and hit “Start.” This time, though, it’s habit rather than necessity. My husband and I are returning from a trip to my brother’s house, and we know the way pretty well, especially in daylight. It’s a misty-hilled morning as we take the fateful turn onto Logie Trail.
The road winds, this is not poetic, this is truth, up and I mean vertically, into the trees, covered with bright green moss. As we climb, Claire lets us know that in 4.6 miles, we will make a turn onto Skyline Boulevard, a road I have driven before, but from that point on once we depart onto Johnsons Creek Road, we’re navigating new-found land. Signs proclaim “Vineyard and Valley Scenic Byway.” We go along. Taking this route erases any hint that the city of Portland, its jammed I-5, lies somewhere nearby. We pass through acres of rolling farms, vineyards, evergreen covered hills, and when we finally reach an area we recognize, it’s smooth. clear roadways ahead. This detour has cost us maybe 30 minutes, but as a native I’ve never seen this part of my state. My husband loves everything about our new home; this merely deepens his appreciation as he lifts his thumbs and index fingers repeatedly as if to frame the perfect photograph again and again.
He’s hungry though, and hunger can take contentment in an unwelcome direction. However, now that we’re on our way, I resist stopping. I have to admit I have a GPS mentality. At this point, I want no route recalculation. But today has been a gift, so when my husband suggests that we try this small town for a late breakfast, instead of my default, “Let’s wait ’til we get home,” I acquiesce.
The breakfast at Wildwood Willamina delivers, the potatoes crispy and tender, the eggs perfectly cooked, the sausage, as my 5 p.m. vegetarian spouse raves, sweet and savory, the sourdough toast, thick, airy, just a bit of bite and butter…YOWZA! The lovely waitress friendly and genuine, keeps the coffee coming while providing bits of Willamina local insight. I vow to return, and we just might, “Yet knowing how way leads on to way,” I buy myself a mug to remember that the road “less traveled by…has made all the difference.”