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An ode to the Rogue Expressway

I’ve been trying to come up with an appropriate way to show my appreciation to the Oregon Department of Transportation for the sweet addition of our Rogue Valley Expressway. For those of us who live “up yonder,” being able to leap on the E, rev her up to 65, I mean 55, and zip in and out of Medford on gossamer wings, well, it’s nothing short of dreamlike — like an out-of-traffic experience, where the light you’re drawn inexplicably toward is not a signal but a truck spotlight harvesting hemp late into the night.

Normally a Foothill Road kind of gal, the first time I used the E I was returning from a nighttime event. I don’t like driving Foothill after dark as there may be critters on the road, and I don’t care to add to the possum families’ mourning. Did you know possums eat creepy, detestable things like slugs and cockroaches? A single possum can eliminate up to 4,000 ticks in one week. According to littlethings.com, possums test higher in intelligence than more domestic animals like rabbits, dogs and cats. Sure, they don’t exactly exhibit their smarts when crossing roads. More than likely they’re preoccupied with a mental calculation of some kind — one not involving the ratio of possum to oncoming auto. And, if the above facts aren’t enough to cause you to avoid hitting them, they’re our only marsupial.

So, this is my possum plug: “Avoid a possum when you can, and you will be a better man or woman.”

Here’s another: “Possum, possum smiling bright, in my headlights through the night, stay away from asphalt walks, save yourself from life’s hard knocks.”

Maybe I should have written greeting cards. Hallmark, are you listening? Pay no heed to jokes I made before about your movies and your characters being wax replicas. Ha, ha.

Back to the zippy Expressway. That first launch onto an untried thoroughfare proved exhilarating. I could have been on a road trip in some small burg in Central California or Nebraska. I saw scenery I never would have otherwise — an old barn, the airport, a few wide-open spaces. Where was I? I didn’t even realize until I climbed aboard that I could cruise at highway speed.

Others passing me like I was a naïve newbie showed how it was done. A feeling of adventure came over me, and I almost wished I could keep going, on to somewhere new and unexplored. But, alas, the inevitable signal light brought an end to the high time in White City.

Because I’m waxing poetic this week, I decided the suitable ode to ODOT might best be represented in song. To those of you — strange and few — who’ve followed my ramblings, you realize I sometimes take a good song and distort it to suit the moment. In this instance I kept hearing the 1967 classic “The Expressway to Your Heart” by the Soul Survivors. The Blues Brothers revived this one in 1981. Here it is with lyrics by yours truly to ODOT with love.

I’ve been trying to get home for a long time.

Cause an afternoon nap has been on my mind.

I was thinkin’ about a shorter route to take,

But it seems like my foot’s on the brake.

Well, I was tired, ooh I was mired.

I got caught in the rush hour

Drivers crowded all around

Me with rude interjections,

Now I can see in all directions.

On the Expressway to my house,

That Expressway

That’s the best way.

On 62

It’s much too crowded (too crowded) *horns honking

No, it’s much too crowded (too crowded)

So-oh crowded (too crowded)

It’s much too crowded, etc.

I hope this pops to mind the next time you zip-ah-dee-do-dah along the E. Hopefully, you’ll be able to forget it eventually.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com, and please be kind.