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Sunbeams cast shadow on scenic drive

We were among those headed to Central Oregon recently, but for an annual vacation rather than eclipse viewing. Nevertheless, we found ourselves caught up in a sun-related traffic slowdown.

Oh, wait, it wasn't sun-related, it was Sunbeam-related.

As we headed toward Bend on a Saturday morning, the road was mostly wide open until we passed Union Creek. Looking ahead, I saw a line of five or six cars — uh oh, I thought, probably an RV lumbering along. But, after coming around a corner, the line grew to 10 or 12 vehicles. Then we hit a longer straight stretch and the line turned out to be, no exaggeration, 50 to 60 cars, pickups, RVs, trucks, with a bunch of little hump-backed vehicles, many of them two-toned, interspersed throughout the pack.

I'm not much of a car aficionado — my love for a vehicle is mostly attached to its ability to get me where I'm going without mechanical issues. But I recognized a few of the two-toned cars toward the end of the pack as Sunbeams, and I was pretty sure they were vintage cars BECAUSE THEY WERE DRIVING 40 MPH.

And they continued to do so despite the mounting parade behind them. Multiple long stretches, multiple places to pull over, but, no, they poked along for another 30 miles or so to the north entrance to Crater Lake. At one long open stretch, with no approaching cars, fully half of the other vehicles in the line simultaneously decided to pass. Cooler heads prevailed, for the most part, and the passers saw the futility of their efforts. Some managed to pass six, seven, eight others before conceding they likely wouldn't be able to overtake the remaining 40 or 50 in front of them.

So we motored on, not enjoying the view of Mount Thielsen as much as we should have. I was entertained by watching the guy in the really big pickup a couple of spots in front of me as he edged out to the center line and back many times over the 45 or so minutes our little parade lasted. I could tell what he was thinking, but despite my own irritation I was glad he didn't try to resolve the issue with his large bumper.

By the way, for the Sunbeam driver leading the parade, allow me to direct your attention to Oregon Revised Statute 811.425, which reads in part, "A person commits the offense of failure of a slower driver to yield to overtaking vehicle if the person is driving a vehicle and the person fails to move the person’s vehicle off the main traveled portion of the highway into an area sufficient for safe turnout ..."

A few other pet peeves with my fellow drivers:

  • When I'm stuck behind a line of cars, with no opportunity to pass, I'm not sure how you think tailgating me helps the situation.
  • OK, you freeway right-lane passers, I'm with you if someone if someone is chugging along in the left lane. But if there's a string of cars in the left lane passing a truck or slow car, it's not cool to race up the right lane and then jam yourself into whatever space you can force your way into in the left lane.
  • Used to be that if someone was wandering all over the lane you would assume they were drunk or incapacitated in some way. Now you can be almost certain they're looking at their cellphone.
  • There are a number of legal hand signals that may be used by drivers. None of them involves the use of a single finger. Even if you're stuck behind a bunch of Sunbeams.

— Bob Hunter is associate editor of the Mail Tribune. Reach him at bhunter@mailtribune.com.