Fast as Heck 

While Idaho's legislators were sitting around making bad faces about one kind of tax mess, I spent the weekend touring another, very different tax mess. I drove my grandparents from Boise to Portland to meet their new great-granddaughter.

Ah, Oregon's highways. Each time I visit, they seem smoother than when I left. I swear they must get re-covered as often as any pool table in Boise. And did somebody ask how wide the highways are? My grandmother fawned over I-84's broad shoulders with an enthusiasm she usually saves for George Clooney's.

But this 400-mile asphalt cuddle comes at a price ... that price being a life of constant fear! All along the highway I saw them, stacked up on those sexy, sexy shoulders: abandoned automobiles. Did their owners run out of gas? Mayhaps. I'm more of the mind that in a state with no sales tax, the speeding tickets cost so much that drivers are instantly skeletonized when they read them.

At last check, speeding tickets in Oregon can cost between a few hundred to well over $1000 dollars. And as a result, the state transportation department even has so much dough lying around, they can afford blatant luxuries, like abbreviating their name as "OTOD" on roadsigns. Nice shortening of "Of," Scrooge!

This financial threat raised an interesting topic amongst the Collias convoy: Just how far over the limit can we drive before an Oregon cop will decide it's worth pulling us over? My dad swears by 69 when he's driving through the Beaver State--although I'm not sure that sentence came out exactly as I meant it to. For my part, I'll never feel safe going a mile over the limit after a blue-state piranha in an unmarked car trailed me for 10 miles through the Blue Mountains. I haven't concentrated that hard on the number 64 since I learned my multiplication tables.

Now, I'm safely back home, plus a niece and minus a few Jacksons (fortunately, I gave them to Powells Books rather than Oh-Tod). I'm so relieved to be out of the hippie-dippie 1984 to our west, I'll pay whatever bill our interim tyrant puts in front of me.

--Nicholas Collias

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