Sunday, December 7, 2014

Oregon’s Memorable but Less-Than-Warm Welcome

We were less than five hours into our road trip to Arizona last month when we had a most memorable welcome to Oregon, our neighbor to the south of Washington in the Pacific Northwest.

I’d just taken this photo of the beautiful weather in Oregon’s Blue Mountains when. . .


Oregon State Trooper-Less-Than-Welcoming,  ‘welcomed’ us to the state in a memorable, but not particularly warm way.

Note: I have been asked by regular readers if ‘bad things’ ever happen on our trips because I  prefer to tell you positive stories; the stories that will hopefully stir the travel bug in you. But sometimes stinky little things do happen like the story I am telling today:

The cast and characters:  Two 60-somethings, one with a AAA map and guidebook in her lap and the other the driver of our 2005 Toyota Camry. The setting: Interstate 84: somewhere near the summit of the Blue Mountains.  We were in the right-hand, outside lane when in the distance we noted a car pulled on the shoulder of the road, a trooper’s vehicle lights flashing also off the side of the road behind the car. Both were parked some distance outside what is called in the US as the ‘fog line’ which marks the roadway from the shoulder. You can see it in the photo above.


Thinking the trooper, who was sitting in his car, was getting ready to pull out, The Scout slowed and moved toward the left and center line.

Shortly after we’d passed, the trooper did pull out then pulled US over!

Trooper-Less-Than-Welcoming asked why we’d not moved completely into the left lane – called the passing lane – on our inter-state roads and in which drivers drive the speed limit or above because they are, well, passing. The Scout replied that when it appeared the trooper wasn’t pulling out that he returned to the slower right-hand lane.

BEEEP! . . . buzzer. . . .WRONG ANSWER!
Oregon has a “Move Over” law that requires motorists to move completely into the left-hand lane when any emergency vehicle it off to the side of the road with lights flashing.  Trooper Less-than-Welcoming pointed out our Washington State has the same law and then he informed us that all the Western States have the law. (Yes, we did feel like morons for not knowing that fact!)


Now honestly living and driving in the traffic-gridlocked Seattle area, we don’t have the luxury of pulling into the left hand lane when lights are flashing on the shoulder. We slow, we edge around – we don’t MOVE OVER. We explained we hadn’t been aware of that fact.

Trooper Less-Than-Welcoming took the license and returned to his patrol car, a few minutes later (it seemed an eternity long) returned and presented us with a $260 ticket! 

One fine ‘howdy –do!’  if we ever saw one~~

Now had he issued us a warning, we’d have still gotten the message. But because of his memorable welcome, had we not already had reservations just down the road in Baker City, I was ready to get the hell out of Dodge and head straight to Idaho. 

Note: to Baker City businesses (my cute kitchen store and the art gallery, in particular) I would have come in as I always do – but my shopping money was headed to your state coffers. . .no money for you this time.



Had I had the opportunity to see Trooper Less-Than-Welcoming again (which thankfully I didn’t) I would have told him that after his ‘welcome note’ I began paying attention to those western states we drove through:

Idaho:  one sign as you enter the state which reads ‘move over or slow down’

Arizona: sign on Highway 17, “move over OR slow down”

Utah: In this ‘ride ‘em cowboy!’ state the speed limit is 80 and you pass in the left lane at 90 – I know as  I was driving when we saw the trooper pulled off to the side of the road ahead and to merge into that left lane – which I did -- our speedometer read, ‘93’ . . .I might note three cars going 80 stayed in the right lane and we all zipped past like bats out of hell. That, Mr. Trooper, isn’t safe!

Washington: as we concluded our trip and were within 10 miles of our home driving a stretch of Interstate 90 – where there are multiple freeway lanes – a trooper on the left side shoulder had a motorist stopped – NO ONE moved over.


DSCF1061 The Scout, who is a retired attorney, submitted his check for $260 and pleaded No Contest with letter of explanation.

We found a letter from the court waiting when we got back home seeking an abstract of his driving record – one that has no traffic stops on it for more than two decades and then it was for exceeding the speed limit. He submitted it.

A second letter arrived this weekend: his fine has been reduced to $130.

TRAVEL TIP: Next time we’ll drive via Idaho or fly.  We recommend that you do the same! The ticket for not Moving Over could have been $355!

Note: I did take these photos during our recent road trip.  I wanted to, but refrained from, taking photos during the traffic stop. Trooper Less-Than-Welcoming would likely have arrested me.


  1. It's true, Jackie, that we'd rather post about the positive things than the negative, but in this case, I appreciate your account of a rather inhospitable host, and I totally agree with you that a unwritten warning would have been at least more welcoming than that 'welcome note', especially after 'observing' the details on those other state road signs! I'm glad that the Scout's ticket was reduced, in the end to half, but I can definitely understand why your priority to pay attention to such signs in the future will rank rather 'high' on your list of 'to dos'.

    Happy Monday!


    1. I suspect he was having a bad day and needed to pass on his irritation. I've waited until now to write the post as I was not very kind about him and his actions for several weeks after this less-than-warm welcome! Happy week ahead to you!

  2. Hi J & J, in a recent blue lights and siren emergency trip to the ER here in England on a two lane road, freight wagons were pulling in front of the ambulance to overtake other cars! I had to sit up front with the driver who told me they are used to it as he turned up the volume on his siren but to know avail. We were almost slowed to a halt at one point. Perhaps we need a 'Move Over' law?

    1. Oh my word! That is a horrible situation, I can't believe they aren't required to move over for emergency vehicles! We are required to pull to the right and stop if necessary to clear a path for a moving emergency vehicle -- and EVERYONE knows that and abides by it!

  3. Well that's a new one on me and I'm sorry you had to get the ticket, even reduced, for many of us to find out.

  4. I got pulled over south of Bellingham, WA, a few years back, for not moving into the left lane. Fortunately, I was given 'a pass' - maybe because I was from Minnesota and driving a rental, or because we were a couple ol' ladies out after dark. Good thing he didn't give me a breath test.

  5. Ugh, not a fun experience! Thanks for sharing as who knew? I suppose the law was conceived to protect those who protect and serve, but still, it doesn't seem like you were served anything palatable with this encounter.

  6. I've heard of the laws, but $260.00! WOW!!! Had no idea.

  7. Oh yes, law enforcement in our states in the West is very strict on that one and so sorry you got the ticket, Jackie and Joel! I will leave this one alone for obvious reasons and just say sorry, my friends, for your poor welcome :( I hope you are having a good week now! :)

  8. I have heard of a law like that. They must generate revenue from unknowing tourists like you! So sorry this happened to you both~

  9. Ouch! Definitely not a welcome to the beautiful state of Oregon. Seems like a warning would have gotten the trooper's point across just as clearly...!

  10. Gosh, that's a big fine. Wow, and I thought ours were big in Australia ;)


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