well. wow. what an interesting and eventful trip it was just to drive 900 miles straight up the map. as some of you know i recently accepted a promotion within my company that required me to move from the sunny locale of central california to the, uh, not as warm climes of washington.
i left yesterday afternoon after a last coffee with lecram at javawava. i figured if i left at 4 pm and pretty much drove the whole time (with a couple of naps) i would bypass rush hour traffic in sacramento, portland, olympia and tacoma (which can be the worst - everyone is now living where i am and commuting to seattle). everything started off well. in fact, the first six hours were amazing in their effortlessness. then i got to redding, ca. the traffic sign advisory was flashing, so i tuned my radio to 1610 AM to hear what was going on. i was still two hours or so from the oregon border. what the advisory had to say was this: "Interstate 5 is closed due to snow conditions at the Oregon border. There is no time estimate as to when it will be reopened."
being the foolhardy soul that i am, i drove as far as i could. upon being greeted by the CHP and told to turn around, i did. i checked into a motel in the town of Shasta Dam at about 9:30 and proceeded to finish a john grisham book. i also watched the late news only to see pictures of a massive storm that had decided to wait a day before pouncing. the Vivarin i'd taken two hours earlier wore off at about midnight. the cat woke me up repeatedly and at 4:30 AM i got up, did my usuals, made coffee and went out to check the car radio for an update on the highway conditions. i got static. the night still being in firm control of things i decided to pack up ( takes longer than one might think when a cat is involved) and hit the road, hoping for the best. i stopped off at a roadside mart just outside Shasta Dam in order to check weather conditions and buy a set of snow chains ( the Spyder chains that came with the car lacked one essential ingredient...the 13 mm torque wrench that tightens them on, which i found out at 5:00 AM).
all of this being done and being told by the toothless old hag running the store that she had no idear whut wus goin ahn up in them hills i set out to find out.
evidently, nothing was going on. the whiteout blizzard had changed to torrential rain. worked for me. i made my way over the syskiou mountains at about 30 miles per hour, scared out of my wits. it was pitch black, rain running sideways and bigrigs trying to blow me off the road as they made up for lost time. not that i blame them. and not that i'm smart enough to realize that if they can drive fast then the road must be okay. but there was ice and slush and general squishiness under the tires.
when the sun finally came up the world was glorious. snow covered everything but the road. and i'll tell ya: there's nothing like driving through oregon after a snowstorm. all forest and all white. unfortunately, interstate 5 through oregon is THE WORST STRETCH OF HIGHWAY IN THE WORLD!!! running water everywhere! you like hydroplaning? move to the great state of oregon. every 2 minutes i was hitting a small patch of standing or running water that had nowhere to go but up my tires' asses. and at 70 MPH (once i was out of the siskkious) it gets a bit annoying. i work for an engineering firm that works the assholes who build these damn highways and the oregonian state shovel holders are numbnuts as are the engineers who drew out the plans. gawdawmighty! oh, and the speed "limit" in the mountains is 65 MPH unless there's a curve or 400 that need to be taken at 50. but get into the flatlands and everything's 55 or 60. what the fuck?!? AND oregon seems to be in the process of fixing interstate 5 so as to make it more interstate-like. i drove through there 5 years ago and said shovels are still in said same place. with the same workers still looking busy leaning on them. in the snow.
but i digress. it was not snowing, only raining in sheets. and i'd only lost 8 hours. not a big deal since i don't start work until monday. and i knew if i could make it through Grant's Pass without any more weather anomolies i would be in like flint. i stopped at a rest stop early in oregon to ask a trucker about it and he said "wet pavement all the way down". cool. top speed. hit the curves flying. and he was right. all rain, no ice.
so, there i was coming into washington making up time like there's no tomorrow. and washington, well pssht. easy money. doesn't snow in western washington until late december, early january. i stopped off at the first rest stop to call my rental people and let them know i would be at their office around 4:30. after some fun chat about I-5 closing the night before and all of that, my contact let me know the snow was coming down like crazy where she was and they were shutting down early. i laughed and said i'd use the combination for the house key she'd given me to get in when i arrived and rang off. as soon as i walked away from the pay phone (some 3 hours away from my destination) it began to snow. i asked a man walking up if he was driving from that area and how the weather was. he told me he was coming from california and it couldn't be as bad as it was the night before when he was allowed to drive over the siskious with chains and four wheel drive. i wanted to walk over and smack him a good one. so damn smug. so damn right.
so, it snowed for the last three hours of my trip. at one point i was driving 40 MPH behind a trucker and wondering if i was going to spend another night in a motel just a stone's throw away from my new house. but i decided that as long as the locals were driving...so was i. there were times there when i couldn't see more than 50 yards in front of my windshield. there were times when the snow spray blinded me. but it was beautiful. what a way to be welcomed back to my favorite state. an early storm, a white wonderland, christmas come early. when i found my new place finally (found the other one on the same street first that my landlords hold and had to ask directions, because the street stops and takes up again somewhere else) the lawn was covered in white, but the fake fire furnace inside was on and the house was toasty. still can't figure out how to turn on the forced air yet.
the place is straight out of the tower district from my home town. very cool, very comfortable (except for the fact that my stuff that i sent with a mover hasn't arrived yet so i'm sitting on the floor as i write this and will be sleeping on the floor for who knows how long). but why does whirlpool make refridgerators and microwaves and fridgidaire makes ovens?