February Newsletter, 2021 Rick McPherson
The weather forecast was not good. Predictions for snowfall ranged from twelve to eighteen inches, depending. Late Thursday afternoon to early evening was the target time for the frozen white stuff. But, the call from one of our major donors happened and could we come? Mr. Murphy had once again come to visit as I recalled all the beautiful days that had occurred and driving through the Columbia River Gorge to Eastern Oregon on any of those days, would not have been a problem. Still, it was not to be and I fired up the Peterbilt and headed east on Interstate 84, checking the thermometer and time obsessively. As is my habit before every trip, I prayed and asked for safety and protection. I also asked for a Guardian Angel, who was well-versed in big trucks and bad weather, to ride with me.
We do live in a particularly beautiful part of the country. Situated at the confluence of two great rivers, the Columbia and the Willamette, Portland is affected by the winds and weather that accelerate through the Columbia River Gorge from east to west, bringing treacherous winter conditions with heavy snow accumulations and black ice. The seventy-five miles of Interstate from Portland to The Dalles can be extremely dangerous and is often closed for days during bad storms. However, it is the only road unless you want to travel up and over Mt. Hood. Lewis & Clark had the same choice of poison when they made their way with The Expedition to Fort Clatsop and the Pacific.
Heading home at mid-day, I thought we had dodged the weather bullet, yet was on full alert and driving with both eyes wide open. Traffic was light but the snow had started and the road was covered. I had already slowed down when a State Trooper pulled in front of me and continued driving at 45 mph. Who was I to pass a cop, running with his four-way flashers on, in a snow storm? Within a few miles he lit up his emergency lights and pulled to the shoulder to help a stranded motorist in an SUV. Great for me. I sped up to 50 mph and continued down the road wondering why the traffic was so light. Nobody out here but me, I thought.
In a nano second the back end of the Peterbilt, loaded with ten pallets and 33,000 pounds attempted to trade places with the front bumper and slid out to the driver’s side. My prayer service began immediately as I called out, “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!” I lifted off the throttle, didn’t touch the brakes and steered into the slide. The weight in motion continued to push the truck sideways. Then, the technique took over and the truck came back to center and then past center to the passenger side with the same determination to swap ends with the front bumper. My prayer vocabulary changed to, “Dear Lord! Dear Lord! Dear Lord!” I stopped counting at five pendulum swings before the truck centered and the black ice was behind me. In my peripheral vision I had noticed the no-posts in the center median, the guard rail on the river side and the Ainsworth State Park sign. I was determined that I was not going to put the truck anywhere near any median, river or sign. Now, I know it wasn’t just driving skill that saved me. A life-time of driving in winter snow and black ice does not overshadow the power of prayer and the protection that comes when we call on the Name of the Lord!
People often say to me, “we’re praying for you, Rick!” And I appreciate those prayers. I really do. This recent event illustrates the results of those prayers. You see, in an event that lasted for several dramatic minutes, in a snow storm, on black ice, somewhere near Corbett, Oregon, westbound on Interstate 84 on a Thursday afternoon in February, this guy with a load of supplies for Native Americans, was spared.
And, I’m thankful for that big Guardian Angel, too!