Heading South on I-5

Aug 27, 2010 | 2 comments

Santiam Rest Stop

     It takes exactly eight hours to get from Oysterville to Ashland by car, including pit stops and a lunch break.  If we begin at 8:00 a.m. we roll into our motel at 4:00 in the afternoon.  That gives us ample time to unwind, have a bite of dinner, and get to the theater in plenty of time for the 8:00 p.m. curtain.  Usually we can take in the Green Show as well.                    
       For our picnic lunch yesterday we stopped at the Santiam River Rest Area just north of Albany.  We’ve stopped there many times in the past, and in recent years I always look for the scammer who is sometimes working the visitors.  His shtick is to come up to your car with a teenage boy in tow and tell you that his car has broken down or run out of gas or some other fairly plausible sounding story.  Sometimes, he actually has a car that he points out – an old rattletrap with the hood raised like he’s been trying to work on it.     
     He usually says that his plan is to leave his son with the car while he hitchhikes to Albany or some other nearby place to get gas or a needed part or.  Of course, he has no money and he earnestly pleas with you to just be a Good Samaritan and help him out by giving him a few dollars toward his purchase.   The first time we saw him was at a Washington Rest Area just north of Vancouver.  I think we might have given him two or three dollars.
     Not many weeks later, he showed up at the Santiam River Rest Area and Nyel said, “Didn’t you have the same problem up the road a few weeks ago?”  He feigned total innocence, but quickly left us alone – that time.  But we’ve seen him since.  He must do well enough to make it worthwhile.  A whole new aspect of panhandling.
     He wasn’t there yesterday.  Instead, there was another guy sitting on a bench near the “No Soliciting” sign holding a placard that said “Out of Gas.”  While we ate, we amused ourselves watching him swing his head back and forth, back and forth.  We speculated whether he was looking for his next mark or watching out for who might bust him.  Or, we wondered, does an Out of Gas sign even count as soliciting?
      We ate our picnic lunch in peace except for a couple of very persistent squirrels hoping for a handout.  The weather was warm, the traffic fairly light, and we had our first taste of being ‘on vacation.’  Delicious!


  1. Stephanie Frieze

    I always enjoy the I-5 corridor through Oregon. Oregon is definitely different than Washington and the scenery changes from Doug Firs to farm country to something not dissimilar to California. We drove home from Arizona a few years ago and I thought how lovely it is to live in a country with so many facets.

    We have a panhandler in Tacoma who is chronically out of gas. I don’t mind those with a sign and even give to them occasionally, but the agressive ones bother me.

  2. Melinda Crowley

    I wonder if that is the one I encountered at the gas station in Marysville a few months ago. He made out pretty good from me. Never again.


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