Saturday 23rd August. Eugene,Oregon --> Lakeside,Oregon, USA
You don't look a day over 78!

The birthday girl.  clockwise from left: Denise, John, Dick, Bill, Dixie, myself and Sally.

Remember Troy, the guy who gave me a lift from Tacoma to Olympia? NO? Well, you should be paying more attention then! Troy had phoned his Mum Dixie, while I was still in his car, to see if she'd be okay to let me stay when I come through her part of the state. This is what I wrote about Dixie in my journal one week ago:

"I could tell by the conversation that Dixie wasn't real well. It turned out that she may have had a mild stroke; she's waiting on test results. Still, she told Troy to go ahead and give me her phone number. How cool is that? Troy said he and his brothers would often bring home hitchhikers when they were kids, and Dixie had always welcomed strangers into their home."

Dixie lives in Lakeside, Oregon and guess where I found myself stranded after a rather slack day of hitchhiking? Right next to a sign that read "Welcome to Lakeside". I phoned Dixie from the gas station, and was told someone would come and pick me up. Several voices mumbled in the background and there seemed to be quite some organizing going on. When two large four wheel drives pulled into the gas station, I discovered why.

Today was Dixie's 79th birthday. She and her husband Bill had been joined by several members of their extended family, and were on the way into Coos Bay for a family dinner when I called.
"Should I change out of my shorts and into some jeans?" I asked Dixie when I saw what a classy restaurant we were dining at.
"You stay in your shorts" she winked. "That'll make everyone wonder what sort of interesting things you've been up to!".
Dinner was a hoot, Dixie keeping us entertained with her razor sharp sense of humour, and Bill interjecting when he found an opening. His little one-liners almost had me in tears a couple of times.

Dixie and Bill had both been to Australia, they said. Of course, they weren't together then. Bill and his late wife were great friends with Dixie and her late husband, and the four of them would travel together. After their respective partners passed away, I guess Bill and Dixie grew closer. I think that's one of the most beautiful love stories I've ever heard!

Dixie and Bill, thanks for dinner and I hope you have many happy years together!

Thanks to Tim for the delicious vegetarian omelette that got my day off to a great start. Thanks Ben for the twenty bucks. Thanks Linda for driving me so far out of your way. Thanks Jan for picking up your first ever hitchhiker. I hope you found somewhere good to camp.

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