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Gramps and Sal take Gram to the hospital as soon as they get to Coeur d'Alene. Gram is unconscious, slumped over. This is so not good.
The doctors tell them that Gram has had a stroke and that she can't hear them, so he doesn't need to stay in the room. Here's Gramps' awesome response: "'Sonny, I've been by her side for fifty-one years, except for three days when she left me for the egg man. I'm holding on to her hand, see? If you want me to let go, you'd have to chop my hand off'" (41.3).
Sal stays by herself in the waiting room while Gramps stays with Gram.
Someone comes in with an old beagle dog, but the receptionist won't let him bring the dog in the hospital, so Sal offers to take care of the dog while his owner visits the hospital. We think that's something her mother would have done.
The dog is really cute, puts his head in Sal's lap, and reminds her of her old dog, Moody Blue.
It's around midnight when Sal is finally able to see Gram, who's still unconscious. There are lots of tubes and wires connecting her to machines. Gramps leans over her, whispering things to her.
The nurses tell Gramps that Gram can't hear him, but Gramps tells them that she can. He also tells Sal that they are going to be in the hospital for a while, which poses a bit of a problem.
He hands Sal the car keys and some money and tells her to go do what she has to do.
Sal goes out to the car, holding the keys. She studies the map several times, counts the money Gramps gave, and then practices driving around the parking lot a bit.
Finally, she pulls out of the hospital parking lot and begins the journey to Lewiston all on her own. It's pretty reckless, we've got to admit.
Sal is nervous, but she feels good, too. She knows she can make this journey, because she knows how to drive. But still, just in case, she prays to the trees that she passes on the windy road to Lewiston.
It takes her four hours to drive from Coeur d'Alene to the top of Lewiston Hill. She pulls into an overlook. Far below is a valley where the Snake River winds. The road down the hill is one of those terrifying mountain roads with all kinds of twists and turns and cliffs.
She tries to see something in the valley below, but it's still nighttime and everything is pretty dark.
Sal gathers her courage and drives into the valley. It's the most terrifying drive ever. The road is narrow and there isn't much space between the road and giant cliffs.
At the next opportunity, Sal pulls into another overlook to take a break. While she's there, another car pulls up, and a man steps out asking where the rest of her family is.
She tells him they're "around," and the man assumes they're peeing in the woods close by.
The man points out a huge metallic object through the treetops. It is glowing in the moonlight.
"'A bus went off the road here—a year or more ago," he said. "Skidded right there, coming out of that last turn, and went sliding into this here overlook and on through the railing and rolled over and over into those trees. A helluva thing. When I came home that night, rescuers were still hacking their way through the brush to get to it. Only one person survived, ya know?'" (41.35).