The trip has become an annual event. Traveling to La Grande for a charity golf tournament in early June. Which, gives back to the community of veterans in the area. Each year, we make the six-hour drive through the night of the first Thursday of the month. We start from the Puget Sound area in northwest Washington. Traveling up and over the cascade mountain range. From there, winding our way down the center of Washington and into Oregon. Moving diagonally and ending our drive in the eastern Oregon town of La Grande. Not a large city by any means. I would describe it as a medium sized college town with a strong farming pull. The hilly topography and the trains running through brings about the feel of an old mining town, as well. La Grande has the combination of different old city influences. One of the reasons I enjoy our yearly visit. We make the yearly trip as two buddies from the second grade. Now, in our early 40’s, I’m thankful each year we get to reunite. Living lives that often keep us disconnected. The opportunity to gather has been a pleasure. So, the first Thursday in June, when we load up and head out, has become one of the only nights during the year I’m awake after midnight. The only reason for this is I’m still driving. We get in late, spend time catching up, decompressing from hours on the road. Looking forward to our round of golf the next afternoon. Reacquainting ourselves with the golf course and each other.
Our first round of the year together has traditionally been played on Friday. The golf course has hosted a tournament on that Friday for the last couple years. Leaving us to play in the last afternoon. Which, given the time of year in early June, hasn’t presented a problem. The weather has normally been consistent during our trips. Temperatures usually hovering in the high sixties or low seventies. For me, the weather normally has me somewhere between shorts and long pants. Before we headed to La Grande this year, our attention was focused on the forecast. They were predicting rain for the first time during any of the trip I recall. Usually the only question has been how hot will it be? This year we had to pack the rain gear. Even though the prediction of rain had in the forecast for days, I was holding out hope. Thinking, if we packed all the rain gear, maybe it would turn out to be wasted cargo. There was some hope pointing in that direction. We walked out of the hotel Friday morning to sun breaks. Driving to meet up with the family of my buddy, I was hopeful. But, at about midday, while we were out in the front yard. The drizzle began coming out of the sky above. Turning out to be just a passing shower. The rain halted not long after it started. Again, providing some hope. But, another shower came, this one with a little more intensity. The clouds seemed to be gathering above. Pushing us inside with a sinking feeling. We had a 4:00PM tee-time to play later on, but things weren’t looking good.
Spending midday inside was the prudent approach. The rain got heavier as time passed. Thunder could be heard at times. Telling us the storm was nothing to be messed around with. Golf cannot be played under conditions of lightning. The golf club acting as a receptor for any electricity in the air. Meaning the roar of thunder could derail our afternoon of golf. But, there remained hope and time for the storm to move through. Rain crashed against the front window. Us, sitting around without much to keep occupied, visited, and wondered about the weather. We eventually found a show on Netflix to settle us in for the next couple hours. Often, getting out of our chairs to peak past the blinds on the window. The rain was continuing with an on again, off again, pattern. Positively the sound of thunder had been absent. As time crept toward our start time for golf. The phone call was made to the course, checking on conditions. Buffalo Peak resides in the next town over. About twenty minutes from the house in La Grande. Providing the off chance of weather improvement over the course, which as luck would have it, helped our cause. The phone call to the golf course revealed different weather conditions. They weren’t experiencing rain or sounds of thunder. The course would be ready for play at our scheduled 4:00PM time to begin.
There are positive elements to a day filled with storms. Mainly, when it comes to playing golf, the weather keeps people home. The sound of rolling thunder can find them giving up hope. They might call their buddies and bag off a start time later in the day. With the course holding a tournament earlier in the day. The tendency might grow larger to back off late afternoon golf. We had just gotten lucky with the weather. Now, we were about to have luck strike twice in less than a couple hours. The sounds of thunder and pounding of rain from the day, kept everyone backing away from golf. When I walked out of the clubhouse after paying for my golf. Looking over parts of the golf course, I couldn’t find a soul playing golf. There remains something unique about the first tee at Buffalo Peak. Something I really haven’t seen on another golf course in my life. To find the first tee from the clubhouse. One has to drive up a pretty steep, winding cart path. The special aspect of this climb up is the view it provides. Standing on the first tee gives views of the entire golf course, below. As Buffalo Peak sits in and around the edges of a bowl. Looking out from our perch, preparing to begin the afternoon of golf, we couldn’t see a soul. I couldn’t truly believe the sight, but the golf course was ours. Over the next few holes, I continued scanning the place. Throughout the evening, no one showed. We played golf right up until the good Lord turned out the lights. Arriving back in the parking lot after the sun went behind the mountains. Ours was the only car left in the parking lot. We managed to play about twelve holes and off to dinner we went.
The weather held off during our evening of golf. Calm conditions accompanied us around the fairways. Though, a bite in the air upon our arrival had me finding a half-zip pull over before the first tee. Keeping me warm against temperatures that would tighten my muscles. Over the years, I have grown to understand the impact of weather on my disability. Though, I am no doctor, and don’t know all the facts. My muscles seem to tighten quicker with a drop-in temperature. I have noticed people around me with the ability to remain warm. Wearing shorts and t-shits in situations where my body wouldn’t be capable of movement if not for layers. It has me thinking of ways to be more mindful of weather conditions. Along with the impact those conditions might be having on my body. Weather seems to carry an impact on the body of everyone. But, like most everything, the impact on me with cerebral palsy, carries added impact. So, the half-zip pull over kept me warm in the cooler temperatures of the evening. Guiding my body against tweaking a muscle before the tournament. Which, we felt ready to play, walking off the golf course at dusk. We would be due back at the golf course the following morning at 9:00AM for the start time of 10:00AM.
We awoke the next morning to rainy weather. The packed rain gear would be valuable for the tournament. I had also brought all the small towels that could be found around my house. Attempting to help us be as prepared for a wet tournament day as possible. We traveled from the hotel to the house of my buddy’s brother. The sky was looking a little dark. Having me think we were probably in for a long day. Playing in the rain has never been enjoyable. More like something you fight through, like adversity risen above. Making the best of it along the journey. We arrived at the house in time for some breakfast. His brother making us feel taken care of and at home. Something he has done year in and year out. Everyone crowded around the table for a breakfast sandwich. Looking forward to the day of golf with an apprehensive feeling about the weather. But, we were here, and going to have fun. Until we were climbing into the truck for our ride to the golf course and the phone rang. We listened to one end of a conversation lasting no more than a couple minutes. When the call came to a close we were informed the tournament had been rained out. There was electricity in the air, so they rescheduled the event for August. I felt a mixture of emotions with the news. Both feeling of disappointment and relief. The challenge of playing golf in the rain was behind us, but the sadness of traveling to La Grande and being turned away, remained. We got out of the truck and stood in the drive for a few moments. We had the option of being refunded the money or playing on the August 13 makeup date. The conclusion of our conversation didn’t reach a verdict. But, we left the driveway leaning toward reconvening to play in August. The weather would be much warmer. Since, we have made plans to return. We plan on playing in the August 13 makeup event. Where temperature could touch the triple digits. Presenting a whole different kind of challenge.