Tomorrow I’m renting a car to drive myself and one bag just three hours and I’m finding the whole thing to be unnecessary and ridiculous. The fact that there’s no good way around this, save from staying home, is one of the things that bugs me about this country. I mentioned a few posts back that our car rental in Northern Ireland was the one and only time Andy or I have ever rented a car in another country. It’s true. The reason is simple: we’ve never needed to.
Aside for some truly remote places, you could feasibly (and usually quite easily, afforadably and conveniently) make your way across the whole planet without renting a car. That is, of course, until you reached the United States. Then you’d either have to walk, fly or schlep to the nearest Hertz location.
Here’s the skinny: Andy is working out-of-town for the next few weeks. Unlike his normal trips to exciting, far-flung locations, this one is relatively close and therefore substantially less exciting. Still, since I like to make a habit of visiting Andy on his work trips, I figure this one should be no exception. Also, the lack of far-flung-ness on this job means his location doesn’t need to remain a secret until after the job is over. Hold on to your seats folks because here’s the big reveal: he’s working in Boardman, Oregon.
Despite being only three hours from Portland, I’d never heard of Boardman until last week. The small town is less than a three-hour drive on a major freeway from Portland. Did you catch that? It’s less than three hours. It’s less than three hours on a very, very major freeway. Getting there without one’s own car should be a piece of cake, right? Wrong.
The reason I need a way to get to Boardman is because we’re a one-car family and our one car is already there with Andy. Usually having one vehicle works out fine; we live in a very walkable neighborhood (walk score of 90!) and I literally step foot in our car probably less than once a week. Also, having only one car allows us to feel smug about being greener than people with two. For those of you who’ve never been to Portland, being smug about green stuff is a really big deal here – the sheer number of conversations I’ve had about how anyone not actively petitioning to make curb-side composting available to everyone is worse than Hitler would floor you.
I cannot, however, walk to Boardman. (In case you’re curious, Google says it would take me 72 hours… and that’s with any stops.)
And so the search began. Even though it’s on a major freeway, I suspected Boardman, with a population of around 3,000, might not exactly be a transportation hub so I instead searched for transportation options to nearby Hermiston.
First I consulted Google to see if by some miracle there was actually a train that could take me there. No surprise; no dice. Then I checked to see if there were any other bus companies other than Greyhound that might make the trek. Again, no dice. Finally, I visited www.greyhound.com to find out about fares and schedules. But shockingly, I found no dice. Finally, I did a rideshare query and that too, yielded no dice.
Without a car, there is absolutely no way to get from Portland to Hermiston.
I went back to the drawing board… and by drawing board, I mean Google maps where I noticed that Pendleton isn’t too much farther than Hermiston. The only thing I know about Pendleton is that it has a rodeo. Still, the fact that I know something about it means it might be a bigger deal than the other two towns and therefore more likely to have some way to get there.
This time, the Greyhound query did returned some results – $60 one way. Apparently, I’m extremely naive when it comes to Greyhound bus fares. Having traveled on many, many buses in other places (both in more affordable countries and less affordable countries than the US) my guess would have been closer to $25.
I told Andy about my dilemma. He told me that Pendleton is actually almost an hour drive from Boardman.
There’s just something so wrong and backwards about the whole scenario. After I paid over $120 round-trip to sit on a sketchy bus, Andy would still have to drive for an hour after a hard day of work to pick me up. Then, we’d have to turn around and drive another hour back only to have to repeat the trip at the end of the weekend.
I say, “No dice.”
Instead, I’m going against the go-green grain. Instead, I’m renting a car for just $8.10 a day. Instead, I’m driving.
I’ve rented a lot of cars in my life but all my other rental car scenarios have made more sense than this one. This one irks me because it says heaps about this country’s transportation system and what it’s saying isn’t good. I want high-speed trains. I want frequent and convenient bus routes that don’t have a sketchy reputation. I want all this at reasonable prices. Is that too much to ask?
Sigh. Apparently so.
I’m sorry earth – but at least I’m renting the economy car.