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Always drive with chains.

December 11, 2008

As much as we would love to one day stay in town for a couple of days after LARF is over, we have yet to have that opportunity.  This time, we have a library gig in California on Saturday.

It would have been one thing had we been able to travel directly there.  Instead, we needed to go home, change over props and costumes, and then drive down to CA.  Sigh.

We left a few hours later than we wanted to Monday morning, but we had a fairly forgiving schedule.  Our gps was taking us on smaller state Highways in order to cut diagonally NW into New Mexico instead of the constant up and over.  Things looked ok.

The lighting rocketing across the sky was the first indication that the trip might not be quite as smooth as one could have hoped.  It was phenomenal to watch, driving directly toward it as we were.  The forks lit or path as they shot horizontally.

Then, as we pulled over at a gas station, we converged with the storm.  The weather channel was playing inside and I watched until they showed the radar for where we were headed.  As I was inside, the rain actually let up.  It was a fast moving storm, I guess!  And, once again, things looked ok.  On we went!

I still wonder if we should have stopped at this point.  But had we pulled over for the night we may have ended up there for a few days.

As we drove, the flakes began falling.  Truly, it was not the so much the snow that was the problem.  It was the wind that was blowing the snow across the road in a white wall of frozen fluff that was the problem.  We stayed on the tail of semis, close enough to know we were still on the road, far enough to know if they had problems we could still stop.

At another gas station, we called road advisories for New Mexico and Colorado and listened to the people coming from the direction we were headed saying how roads were closing behind them.  Our options were limited; we pressed on.

At one point, every semi was pulling over.  They were gathered in an empty parking lot off to the left.  No one seemed to be continuing on and the question was should we try to carve the path ourselves or just hole in here in this parking lot?  As we discussed it, the lights of a semi approached.  We pulled out and followed along.  In the trails of several semis, cars, and a snowplow for a time, we finally arrived at yet another gas station near the freeway in New Mexico that was threatening closure.

Exhausted and, at least on my part, a little stressed out, we snuggled in and tried to sleep.  I still had that “moving car” feeling, and the wind rocking the car didn’t help much.  But there is something about the silence that comes with snowfall.

Hours later, we woke up, grabbed some breakfast, stocked up on coffee and checked the freeway status once more.  It was open.  So on we went!

Into Colorado we climbed.  It wasn’t snowing much any more, perhaps a flurry now and again.  But the ice!  And, even going at a snail’s pace, into a snow bank we slid.  All was fine, just a pile of snow to cushion the bump.  At that point, Patrick took over, got us back on the road, and off the next exit which held a Wal-Mart.

Even buying chains was an adventure.  It took three tries (first one didn’t fit, second one was missing links…), but finally we were chained up and driving all around town trying to find the way back ON the freeway.

We made it.  It was slow going while the ice was around, but in time the road cleared and we were cruising along once more.  And now, we have a set of chains for our car! Yay!

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