I’m not one who enjoys snow; I totally freak out at the presence of falling flakes. I’m afraid of icy roads, and winter driving conditions often ground me at home. That’s one of the reasons I moved to the coast—rarely do I have to deal with that icky frozen white stuff.

Now as everyone knows who’s followed my blog or Facebook page, my dear friend Rick was recently in the VA hospital for 24 straight days—from August 20 to September 13.

Cutting-edge technology, in the form of a CardioCom Health Monitor, has allowed him to return home and still have his daily vitals recorded. A visiting nurse and physical therapist have been helping him reclaim a somewhat “normal” life.

But for over six weeks, Rick had not been behind the wheel of a vehicle, and that’s not “normal” for him at all!

So last week we decided to take a little afternoon road trip from Hillsboro to Mt. Hood. I rode shotgun, fully prepared to take over the driving duties if necessary (but knowing he’d never actually let me do that).

I drove the loop around Mt. Hood a few years ago, but never actually turned up the road to Timberline Lodge, so this was a first for me. It was October 2, so I had no fear of encountering inclement weather conditions.

In hindsight, I should have checked the weather report. Although Rick had told me that morning it was 30 degrees on Mt. Hood, my brain didn’t compute that information. It just never entered my head that we would encounter “winter” just a few miles from downtown Portland’s lovely autumn weather.

Thankfully, although it was definitely snowing while we enjoyed hot chocolate in the lodge, just six miles back down the road the temperature was 15 degrees warmer, and my heart-pounding respiration returned to normal.

And Rick? Oh, he was one tired guy when we got back to his place, but he managed behind the wheel just fine. And the imprint my fingernails made on his dashboard will probably fade with time…