We left the ranch to drive to California for Christmas on Sunday. We had planned to leave Saturday but a big storm was brewing so we waited a day to let the weather calm down a bit. We got a light snow on Saturday before we left and it was really sunny and beautiful.
We brought the Scout home again so Rick and our friend Whitney could work on it while we are here. It is the perfect ranch vehicle, but it does have a tendency not to run quite right all the time – I guess that happens when you are 47 years old. I was actually getting used to the sputtering and loud backfires (quite entertaining at the post office), but Rick tells me that is really not a good thing. There is a re-built engine waiting for it in California.
The weather forecast was for snow showers along the way through Washington and Oregon, but it turned out to be one of the worst storms in the last twenty years or so. What timing we have! The road (I-5) was not too bad through Washington, it had been plowed and de-iced and so was fairly stable to drive on.
When we got to Oregon, and especially around Portland, the weather and roads took a severe turn for the worse. They did not seem very well equipped to deal with the icy roads, freezing temperatures, howling winds and blowing snow. The roads were very icy and slippery which is kind of spooky with all the bridges you have to cross to get through the city. We made it to Salem where we found a motel open and spent the night.
The next day things had calmed a little as far as blowing snow and wind, but the roads were still very icy and slippery. The temperature when we left Salem was 22 degrees. There was pretty much one groove down the middle of the road – lanes were not visible any more. We saw more vehicles spun out and in ditches and just abandoned in the middle of the road than you can imagine. And this on I-5 – a major interstate freeway! We stopped counting after seeing 25 tire chains in the road that had come off the vehicles. Rick crept along about 30 – 35 miles per hour in 4 wheel drive for most of 500 miles, and we slowly headed south. We came to valleys where the roads were much better, then back up into the mountains and ice.
We were fortunate that traffic heading south was fairly light. Northbound, traffic backed up for miles as two semi-trucks skidded to a stop blocking both lanes of travel. The trucks didn’t have the required chains on and so they blocked the entire northbound side of the freeway. Everyone behind them waited until they got their chains on and could move again. Manuevering of any kind was tricky, and abrupt moves really dangerous.
I have not always been a fan of Rick’s huge truck (Big Bertha I call it) as it is very awkward to climb up into, drive, park and maneuver around town. It was great to have it on this trip however. The dual wheels gave us extra stability and the 4 wheel drive was a necessity in those difficult conditions. The Scout was a slushy mess after being pulled through all that, but made it fine.
The drive that usually takes 20 – 21 hours took 29 hours this time. It was a very long couple of days, but we are very thankful to be home safe and sound. And I will try to say nice things about Big Bertha from now on.