Meandering Down The I-5

by Katy on June 4, 2018 · 38 comments

I needed to drive my son back to school yesterday, as he’d spent the weekend at home for a Portland Timbers soccer game. We’ve driven the Portland-to Eugene route approximately 70 bajillion times over the past two years, so to say that it’s become routine would be a massive understatement.

I proposed the idea of doing some exploration along the way, which my son happily agreed to. Neither of us had any set plans for the evening, so we were able to to slowly meander our way down the I-5 freeway.

Our first stop was to the Wilsonville Goodwill, which I’d never been to before. Our first reaction was that this store mostly featured the fast fashion/fast decor trend of today’s American consumer. (Old Navy/Target/Wal-Mart/Home Goods, etc.) However, I did come across a cute 1979 Taylor & NG brand “Le Chat” cat dish for $2.99. I love the graphics on this brand, so it was an easy decision to pull the trigger. I will put this bowl up for resale on eBay at some point, but for the interim, it now holds water for my own kitties.

My son chose a T-shirt from the Art Institute of Chicago, a FIFA 2018 soccer video game and a chocolate bar.

And lest you think that all we ever do is go to Goodwill, our next stop was to Champoeg State Park, where we poked around the reconstructed historic barn, as well as the small pioneer museum and surrounding locale. Set in a stunningly beautiful area of Oregon, we scored big time as it turned out to be a free entrance day! We could easily have spent an entire day walking the trails and exploring the area, but hunger reared its ugly head, so we drove the ten minutes or so back to the I-5 on ramp.

I’d already come up with a frugal meal plan, as I was in possession of a $7 Burgerville gift card. For those of you familiar with this pricey Pacific Northwest chain, you probably think that there’d be no way that two people can eat at Burgerville for a mere $7.

Think again.

I’ve discovered that Burgerville will add lettuce, pickles, tomatoes and onions to their “original” burgers for free. This meant that my son and I could enjoy hearty $1.89 cheeseburgers instead of the normal $4.29 price for one of their Tillamook cheeseburgers. I then added a large fries to the order for a total of $6.49. I’d filled reusuable water bottles at home, so we were set on beverages.

The last town on our journey with a Burgerville was Albany. But guess what we found in Albany? That’s right, a Goodwill! (Okay, I guess I am kind of predictable. But I had a gift card, so I defend that it was a sound decision to at least poke my head into the store.)

The Albany store was a bit better in my opinion, as there were more vintage items to be found. I was tempted to buy this antique oak table, but it was an awkward size. Too low to be a lamp table, yet too small to be a coffee table. Plus, it had a sizable knick on one corner. At $19.99, I left it behind.

However, I was willing to take a gamble on this vintage rattan table, as the $4.99 price tag appealed to my thrifty self. I’d been looking for a piece of project furniture, and this one ticked all my criteria. Cheap. Sturdy. Good lines. Cheap. (Yes, cheap is key!)

My son didn’t find anything to buy.

At this point we drove straight through to Eugene, as I would still have the two-hour drive back to Portland.

I did stop off at Fred Meyer for cheap gasoline and fruit, as the single small burger didn’t really sate my appetite. (The fries were for my son.) One two-pound container of strawberries later, I was back on the road, This American Life playing on the stereo and a contented feeling in my heart.

A good day spent with my young adult son. Filled both with important conversation and companionable silence. Exploring the world that normally whizzes by.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Jill June 4, 2018 at 12:17 pm

I love this. A change of scenery does everyone some good – and much to my husband’s chagrin, I can always find somewhere to explore – anywhere. But my favorite part is that you were exploring the I-5 freeway. When I first moved from the midwest to the southern US 20 years ago, I told someone to take the freeway and they looked at me as if I had 2 heads. It is only “the interstate” here. They had never heard of the word “freeway”. Nice to know I’m not the only one to use that expression.


Katy June 4, 2018 at 12:35 pm

I’ve never thought twice about calling it the “I-5 freeway,” as everyone does here in Oregon.


J.D. June 4, 2018 at 1:53 pm

Katy, Katy, Katy. We just call it “I-5”. No “freeway” and most certainly never “the”. “The I-5” is so California. 😉

That said, I-5 is a freeway. Yes, it’s an interstate but that’s implied in the I in I-5.


Bethany June 4, 2018 at 2:00 pm

Down here in SoCal it’s just called “The 5”


Lisa June 5, 2018 at 10:44 pm

I wonder if labeling freeways and highways with the definite article travelled upwards from SoCal to NorCal. I grew up in NorCal and haven’t lived there in 20 years but still call every highway and freeway by the definite article. Which is funny in Hawaii now because there are only 3 freeways. “So, I was stuck in traffic on the one, by the 201, and some idiot was going 40 mph in the left lane causing a rolling road block…”


Mary W June 8, 2018 at 1:53 pm

That’s what I noticed when talking with my friends that moved to Washington State from SoCal. We don’t say “the” in front of the freeway number. It’s just I-5. And yes, it’s a freeway, lol.


Vickey June 9, 2018 at 7:07 am

When I grew up in SoCal in the 70s, we said “freeway”. I moved to the NE, where we have thruways. Took me years to get it straight – I often tangled the two and would say “threeway”. That didn’t help with overcoming the SoCal stereotype any. !!


Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early June 4, 2018 at 12:52 pm

Oh I haven’t been to a Burgerville in forever! I went to college in Salem and found out that the Value Village there actually had some pretty great, quality stuff (though maybe that’s changed in the intervening 10 years). Traffic has certainly gotten worse on that stretch if I-5 over the last decade though.


Bethany June 4, 2018 at 1:58 pm

Bought a whole bag of clothes for my girls for $7 off Varagesale. Only 1 pair of shorts looks like they won’t work for them.

Sold a drawer divider on Varagesale. It came with a second-hand dresser I bought and was getting on my nerves. Only a $1, but every little bit counts.

Piano lessons were canceled today because the teacher is sick. It actually helps us out a bit, because we are required to do lessons through the summer or the teacher wouldn’t agree to take us on. The charter school stops paying at the end of May, so this goes on as a credit and shortens the # of weeks I have to pay out of pocket for.

Added some wording to attract more buyers to my ebay listings.

Thawed out some pureed beans for lunches this week. Burritos rock!


Tracy June 4, 2018 at 2:11 pm

Too hilarious Katy — I missed bumping into you at the Albany Goodwill by one day! I was there Saturday with my own college student (OSU) son and 26 and 27 year old daughters immediately after the Timbers game! We found a great framed art print there for my daughter’s apartment. We also hit St. Vinny’s in Albany, which had some great furniture offerings (although we didn’t buy any, just books). My I-5 trip was Portland to Corvallis to Albany to Portland!


Ava June 4, 2018 at 2:49 pm

1. Husband and I went through DVDs and got rid of enough that we could repurpose the case they were in to use for a book shelf.
2. Went through books and thinned the herd. The books and DVDs will go to Goodwill and the donation will be deducted from taxes.
3. Gathered sticks and branches from the yard to save for winter kindling.
4. Picked cherries from our tree. At first I thought there were not enough this year to be worth the trouble, but I found more than I expected. I will make a cobbler and also have some to put in the freezer.
5. Using hotel shampoos and samples for shower gel.


Bethany June 5, 2018 at 8:42 am

We have several cherry trees at our park. It’s right on our street, and it’s small enough that nobody really frequents the park. I’m hoping to get some cherries from them in a few years when they mature!


Chris June 4, 2018 at 3:12 pm

1. Had my last day of work (a 5 year long job working in a restaurant kitchen after retiring from my 25 year job working special ed) last week – feel immediate calmness.
2. Inventoried our chest freezer and eating it down.
3. Bought a J Jill dress for $2 at a garage sale – fits like a dream and I haven’t had a nice summer dress in years!
4. Moved living room furniture around for a new look plus I stained quarter round trim years ago – after we had pulled out carpeting – so now DH can get to work installing the trim. The new configuration means he won’t have to move too many pieces of furniture to finally finish this!
5. Thought the living room looked to dark so changed out art, moved a wreath I made 20 plus years ago, and am making some coasters and pillows in lighter colors with fabric stash.


Christine June 4, 2018 at 5:30 pm

That immediate calmness is such a shocker, isn’t it? I love retirement!


Penny June 4, 2018 at 5:05 pm

I love the way you dish!


Christine June 4, 2018 at 5:26 pm

Nice you had a whole day with your son all to yourself! My kids are both in their 30s, one with two kids of her own, and both have busy work schedules so an entire day spent with one of them is rare indeed. It sounded like a lovely day for both of you.


Bee June 4, 2018 at 5:40 pm

What a lovely day you and your son had together! I love to take road trips without a set schedule or plan. My eldest child and my husband also enjoy this. Getting off the beaten path has led to some wonderful adventures and created many memories. I am sure that You will always remember this special day. You never know what gifts await you just around the corner.


Jen June 4, 2018 at 6:20 pm



Denise June 5, 2018 at 4:38 am

What a nice day! I always love spending one-on-one time with my college age son; he has such fresh ideas, and he’s always up for any kind of adventure. I am making a long drive soon, and I plan on listening to This American Life; I hadn’t heard of it before, and I’m always looking for something new, so thank you!


ouvickie June 5, 2018 at 5:45 am

Good that you had some Mom time with your son. I love shopping thrift stores with my daughter! We can always find one to shop in, wherever we are.
Yesterday was beautiful, mild weather here – cool in the morning and not too hot in the afternoon. At lunch, I dropped off an audiobook at the Library, that was due today. Took stuff to the recycle center and picked up a few items at the Dollar Tree. Then went back to the office and heated an entree in the microwave for lunch. It was a good day.


Roberta June 5, 2018 at 6:35 am

Thanks for the tip about Champoeg. We’ll be driving up the I-5 this summer, and it’s good to know places we can stop and walk around for a change of pace. Because taking my husband to thrift stores is not cheap!


Marilyn June 5, 2018 at 6:49 am

Thanks for the info that Burgerville will add lettuce, tomato, etc. to their basic burgers with no extra charge. I will be sure to try that at some point this summer.


K D June 5, 2018 at 8:15 am

Your FFT posts are coming fast and furiously. Let’s see what I have:

1. We’re still watching a couple episodes of Til Debt Due Us Part most evenings. I did pick up a few DVDs at the library yesterday, a couple that we know we want to watch.

2. I finished reading one e-book and have a couple more that are on “loan” from the library for three more days that I’ll scurry to finish.

3. The weather is perfect for no thoughts/need of heat or air conditioning.

4. I’m giving away things we no longer want. Less clutter is more harmony in the home. I know we’re not making in money but it feels good to know things are going to a new home that will appreciate them.

5. Same old, same old: wearing the same clothes, eating at home or packing lunches, regular exercise.


Chris June 5, 2018 at 8:16 am

Great to know Burgerville will do that!
1. Enjoying Rich House Poor House free on YouTube – thanks for the recommendation.
2. Went to an area attraction using the Cultural Pass from the library – free.
3. Stopped at a local thrift shop near the attraction and scored a nice piece of lightweight fabric for $2.50.
4. Used a thrifted pattern and the fabric to make a summer nightgown.
5. Clearing out the back of the freezer for some easy (cheap) at home meals.
Did all of this, of course, wearing thrifted head to toe!


Cindy in the South June 5, 2018 at 8:40 am

1. I went to the northern part of the state to meet up with my cousin and put flowers on our grandparent’s graves. This is a different graveyard from the one I posted about last week. We went out to lunch at our traditional steak restaurant and it was $13. I plan for this every year. On the way home, I also stopped and purchased a bbq sandwich ($8) from my friend’s roadside restaurant. Again, this was a planned purchase that I do every year.
2. On the way to see my cousin, I stopped at two park sites, the Sipsey River North Fork ($3.00) in the Bankhead National Forest, and Natural Bridge ($3.50) (near the forest) and hiked at both spots. I love day trips!
3. I went swimming the next day at another National Forest (Talladega) for another $3.00.
4. I then went swimming the very next day at an Army Core of Engineer’s Miller’s Ferry Campground ($2.00).
5. I am eating beans, after spending all that gas money, and other money…which I realize is not much considering where all I went, but still.


Cathy June 5, 2018 at 9:37 am

Time spent with young adult son = priceless!
I have one as well, and we spent the weekend together (sans dad and little brother) at a nephew’s graduation. It was an amazing time together.


LB June 5, 2018 at 10:02 am


1. Got my tuition reimbursement check today and it went straight in my savings account! Some of it will go to paying for the vacation I just went on.

2. Got keys to my new place yesterday and to my disappointment, the cleaning crew was absolute shit AND left the windows open in the living room, leaving a layer of pollen on EVERYTHING. My mom was so so so nice and bought a cleaning service to come in before we move in on Saturday. I’m so grateful and now the cleaning supplies I bought to wage war on dirty cabinets will last for months.

3. Back from vacation and did NOT want to cook, but I made dinner last night and brought a lunch today. Somehow my lettuce froze (!?) but I muscled through eating it.

4. Ran out of coffee, but refused to make a stop. Brewed a mason jar of tea this morning instead. Didn’t quite hit the spot, but it woke me up and it cost nothing.

5. After a little shopping on vacation, the clothes-buying-freeze is back on. No more new clothes until the seasons change again!


Jennifer June 6, 2018 at 4:39 am

I like the idea of exploring on the way back to college. I might have to try that with my ds. We go right through Pittsburgh, there has got to be something interesting and free there, right?

1. Cashed in my Papa Johns points to get a free pizza last night for our dinner. I ordered ahead and picked it up after our hike and sliced carrots and celery when we got home.
2. The kids dog sat last weekend and earned $75 – spending money on our vacation and they won’t be bugging me to buy them things.
3. Today is my birthday. In the name of experiences over gifts my dd took me out to ice cream and we used a B1G1 coupon I had gotten for my birthday. Today I will get my free venti Starbucks drink to enjoy on my way to work at the local baseball field. Not the best way to spend a day, but $75 or so tax free to cover kid activities is a win in my book.
4. Sold some old scout uniform stuff on Ebay. Fees are ridiculous, but I think I will net about $30 in the end. I had tried to sell locally but there were no bites.
5. I can usually never think of things I want for my birthday. But this year I needed new sandals, so asked my dh for those (and actually ordered them myself). I have been wanting a Himalayan salt lamp but that is something I would not buy for myself. My in-laws always want something very specific to buy for people as gifts. So I told them and now have my lamp. A good day indeed! Exactly what I wanted/needed and nothing extra.


Jo June 7, 2018 at 6:44 pm

If you like bicycles, visit Bicycle Heaven in Pittsburg. It’s a bike-store slash one-dude’s-bike museum on 2-3 floors of an old warehouse by the river. Absolutely fantastic!


Jenzer June 6, 2018 at 6:51 am

This post popped up in my feed the same day as yours: “The Path Less Instagrammed.” I think it captures a lot of the same sentiments as your post does here.

My favorite quote:
“Share the little moments, the quiet moments, the ones we all experience and often take for granted. Ultimately it may inspire someone else to check out the national forest or state park nearest them that they often overlook. It will also remind you of the beauty of nature that’s so much closer than you think. And in the process, it could help protect those places with international renown and those ones of equal importance that are right out your back door.”


Betty Winslow June 6, 2018 at 7:01 am

1. Weeded a pile of books from the school library I am in charge of; took some to the local used book store for credit, where I also found and bought 3 books for the library.
2. Also picked up copies of The Tightwad Gazette and The Tightwad Gazette II, which I already own, to sell, and a Gary Larson collection for my husband.
3. Took some of the weeded books to a local little free library, where I found a cope of Joy of Cooking, which I grabbed for my son.
4. Got a $4 off $20 coupon from bob Evans, so we may be going there for dinner. (Since my January stroke, husband has taken over feeding us, so we’re eating out way more than usual. Not really NCA, but kind for him.)
5. Loom-knitted a purple and white winter hat for my granddaughter, who will be wearing those colors in college in the fall, and a giraffe patterned hat for my bonus granddaughter, who loves giraffes. Cheaper than buying, and keeps my hands busy while we’re binge watching Eureka. 🙂


Marybeth June 6, 2018 at 12:51 pm

1. Went to the dentist today to get a cracked filling fixed. Turns out there was a cavity in there too. So they had to drill lots. My mouth hurts but it was free because of my hubby’s greatt work insurance.
2. Hubby and I went to Panera for lunch. We ate there. I just got a bowl of soup. We used my son’s work discount and bonus gift cards I got last month. I brought my reusable water bottle with me like always.
3. I have been cleaning out my food storage. Tring to eat the items that just expire or will expire soon. Put them into a box on the side. This week we have eaten 7 things out of the box and are still alive to tell the tale.
4. Got gas today as it is cheaper on Wednesdays. I don’t know why but I will take the 6¢ a gallon discount. I always fill up on Wednesdays because of it.
5. Friends wanted to go out to eat. They couldn’t decide where. I suggested the local pizza place. We can all get whatever we want from $3 and up. Different people on different budgets. I just want to hang out with friends without breaking the bank.


Val June 7, 2018 at 6:29 am

This article appeared in the Mpls. Star Tribune this morning. I thought of Katy and all the people who read her blog (including myself) reading about the frustration of the writer as she walked in her neighborhood and observed all the useful things, including food, that students threw away at the end of the school year. I’ll include the link to the article.


Katy June 7, 2018 at 8:16 am

Ooh . . . now I want to do some dumpster diving!


Marybeth June 7, 2018 at 11:42 am

I went to the dorms for the first time this year on move out day. I could not believe my eyes. The amount of waste was unbelievable. We took 8 mini fridges ( all work), a vacuum, a shop vac, a bike frame, a bike tire, a ton of chargers and a few miscellaneous items. That is all that fit in the truck. The amount of clothes we saw could have filled a Goodwill. This was all items next to dumpsters. We didn’t go in any dumpsters. The amount of items that were fine that went to landfills was disturbing. My nephew is taking one of the mini fridges to college with him. The others are being sold through Craigslist. More money in our college fund. Hubby said next year we will go in 2 vehicles. His truck and my mini van.


Val Y June 7, 2018 at 4:39 pm

It just makes me sad, how wasteful we are in the US, when all these things could go to help people in their daily lives.


val June 7, 2018 at 10:20 am

The mention of the set of leatherbound, unused books. It kills me to think of them just being tossed. I was so happy the books found an appreciative, new home.
Recently, on a walk around the neighborhood, I found a very nice, thick, Sherpa fleece blanket. It had ground in leaves, twigs and had been rained on, but dragged it home (about 20 lbs!) and washed it very well. Now I have a lovely blue and gray, plaid, comfy blanket, to use or give away. Yay me!


Kai June 11, 2018 at 7:12 pm

I bought chips at the store and took the bag to work to parcel out through the week rather than buying a small, more expensive bag every day at work. (now the challenge is not to eat them all at once – sometimes single serving sizes are good!).

Similarly, I usually buy one juice and split it into two days by diluting with water. I dilute ALOT of beverages with water. I also reuse old(ish) coffee by adding hot water. (no more than 2 days old though!).

I use the very cheap gym at work versus buying an expensive health club membership and on nice days, I walk either after work or from work to where I live.

I use public transportation every day except weekends. (I rarely go anywhere even so).

I took the train on my last trip (to Portland!) which they (Amtrak) tell me is the most energy-efficient way to go.

Not at all proud of some of my other consumerist behaviors of late – doing pretty well with transport, fitness and food, though!

Thanks for having this page!


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