Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Finally the story...

Well, thanks to good old technology I now can add a bit about our trip from California. I had all my pictures on a different computer and my old flashdrive broke. Enter stage right, amazon.com and I ordered a Kingston 4 gig flashdrive. It sure is spiffy! That along withe the addition of WildBlue Satellite Internet service made it possible to move the pictures over and now I can get back to work.

So we left very early on March 29 and headed east. We had a definite time-line we wanted to follow and so we made very few stops. David drove the Budget truck and I trailed along mostly behind him in the Infinity with Cosmo and Delta and a carload of stuff. I took photos along the way and those can be seen in the
photo album titles Trip Across Country. The trip was pretty uneventful. While we were fortunate to find hotels that accepted dogs, the quality of those hotels varied widely. From West Bendover... I mean Wendover Utah's Econo-Lodge with the graffitied walls and people staggering in and out of the facility at all hours of the night to a very nice couple of LaQuinta Inns. One in Rapid City, South Dakota and the other in ummm Someplace, Minnesota. (I promise I will add the name in as soon as I remember where in Minnesota that was.)

The HIGHLIGHT of the trip was that we were traveling along I-80 minding our own business when we got to Rawlins, Wyoming and found out I-80 had been shut down. The entire interstate was closed. Apparently there was some billion car pile up in the snow and ice and they decided to shut it down. Fortunately, my fella was thinkin' and when we were turned around around 3:00 pm-ish he got us a room at a hotel. Turned out to be a good thing cuz it kept snowing, and kept snowing, and they were not letting anyone through. The hotel prices kept going up and so many people were stranded they ended up having to open their armory for an emergency place for people to stay. I took this picture of some empty lodging right near our hotel... but no one seemed to jump on that opportunity.

We had a fridge and a microwave in the hotel, and a grocery store across the parking lot so we did not have to leave the hotel as the roads and the weather was pretty bad... well... it was in this California-girls eyes anyway.

The truckers were the kings of the day because everyone questioned them as they came into the hotel about the status of the road and finally that next morning we thought we would make a break for it... one trucker had told us I-80 was open and to just take it slow... David reserved the room another night just in case and we headed out. Oh .... my ..... God.

This photo was on the way to I-80. It is WAY better than what I-80 looked like that morning. On the interstate you could NOT see the yellow line or the white ones, the wind across this high plain was blowing like mad sweeping the loose icy dry snow across the road in front of you. The ice.. ice not snow... was crunching around the tires and being a Cali-girl I did not have my defroster on. Well, it made sense to me as the window was not frosted up... BUT I needed to have it on to heat the windshield so that that blowing snow would not stick. Uh.. hello. I learned that quick when a semi who was oblivious to the situation came rolling up behind me, I was driving maybe 30 mph on the interstate, and one of those sharp snow winds kicked up and everything went white... and then stuck to the windshield. Oh shit.

I could feel when the tires were and were not connected with road and we made it about 6 miles and I radioed on our walkie-talkies to David. I had really really tried to suck it up but I knew this was bad, and I was not experienced enough to drive in the snow/ice and we had a long-ass way to go. I would have been a danger to others not just myself and my doggies. So just as I radioed ahead to him he was coming to an offramp where they were diverting traffic back off I-80. They closed it again, a fuel semi had wrecked in the snow, flipped.. burned.. and burnt the road. The HAZMAT dudes had to be called. So either way our trip was diverted again. I was just telling him I was 'not comfortable with this' and that we needed to get off the road when it turns out we had no choice anyway. So we turned around at the same place we did the day before and headed back to the hotel.

I took this photo of the icicles on the truck after we had turned around. We gassed up at a station across the street from the hotel and while I was looking thankfully towards the warm room I would be returning to, I glanced over and noticed these hanging off the Budget Truck along the whole side. It was a bit nippy. We went back to the hotel and checked back in. David had a quick discussion with the hotel clerk about why they were going to try to charge us quite a bit more money now... could it be gouging perhaps? We had just stayed there the night before and knew damn well how much the normal rate was. He worked that all out and we went back to our same room.

David talked to more truckers and finally found the sainted "Slow Trucker". He has this whole tortoise and hare philosophy going on and he gave us a tip. SO.... David sat down, reworked our route, and in the morning we headed northwards on H-287 then to H-220 at Muddy Gap and then finally towards I-90 and then east again... through South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. I have to tell you in some spots there was not even any snow.

We never did hear when I-80 opened up again. All we knew is that there was another snow storm coming behind us, blizzards in Marquette, Michigan in front of us, and buckets of rain and flooding to the south so we HAD to get moving. I-90 was a breeze
for us and we thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the trip. Rapid City was a very nice city, we had a good dinner at The Firehouse Brewing Co.

We traveled on through South Dakota, into Minnesota, and finally Wisconsin. We arrived to find out Jerry was out at the lake ice fishing... of course... so we drove out to our property and he met us on our hill. He zipped across the lake and right up to us behind the old cabin. David and the dogs went out to meet him.

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