Sunday, December 19, 2010

Worst Road Trip Ever

I can safely say that yesterday was the worst road trip we've ever had. Even before it started it was already going downhill. Don was sick the night before so not only did he go to bed early and leave me with the majority of the chores, packing, and car rearranging, but then he ended up being up most of the night with alternating chills and sweats, upset stomach, you name it, so we were already starting off a 10 hour road trip with almost no sleep for either of us. I couldn't get everything done by myself so the following morning we were still rearranging the car, getting dishes done, etc and left more than an hour after I would have liked to which only concerned me because snow was in the forecast and we wanted to maximize daylight hours.

But things mostly progressed well enough until we hit La Grande, OR and all of a sudden hit a road block out of nowhere that said road closed, use alternate routes. So we barely veered off the freeway in time and when faced with one sign that said West and another that said south, we opted for south. I quickly hopped on the internet and began investigating the closures and alternate routes. Oregon DOT website was completely useless as was their phone recording. The internet said that I84 was closed for a 70 mile stretch! But reports from the local Fedex driver led us to believe this was not the case. We found a route that took us through a little town called Union and led back to I84 about 15 miles south of La Grande. We figured it was worth checking out as we had nothing else to do. So we moved along and got back on to find a free flowing freeway. Victory! Or so we thought.

Things were looking optimistic and we moved a long for a good 15 miles before we hit a dead stop. Weather conditions were worsening and we figured there must have been accidents related to weather. So we pulled over and put on our chains. What an adventure! I'd recently gotten my car stuck on Chris Duppenthaler's hill in the snow and ice so we attempted to use Don's chains to get my car out, however they were too small for my car. But the 30 minute trial and error process before we figured that out, at least helped us figure out how they were supposed to work if they did fit my car. Thankful for this base knowledge, we at least started with some understanding and were out in the snow digging around the tires and using all our strength to get them on. The suckers are a tight fit so it took quite a bit of maneuvering to figure out how to get them all spaced perfectly enough to close the loop. Once the traffic started moving along we were able to tread forward confidently that these chains certainly weren't going to come off.

Sadly, the moving along was not to come for quite some time -- about 3 hours to be specific at a dead stop. Finally we started inching along at three miles an hour, stopped a few more times, and then eventually caught up to officials pulling all the trucks over and requiring them to put on chains, and another mile ahead of that an accident with a 3 Semi Truck pileup. After that the traffic opened up, but still we were only able to go 30 miles an hour with the snow and chains. Eventually the road and weather conditions thinned out enough for us to take the chains off and we gradually increased our speed as our elevation declined and the conditions improved.

I managed to keep a positive attitude during the majority of the traffic jam. It was a helpless condition and nothing we could do about it but wait it out. We were lucky that we had gassed up and used the restroom right before hand so were quite aware that it could have been worse. Poor Don though already not feeling well and with a headache too boot. It just plain sucked. Cordy and Seumas needless to say HATED the whole arrangement. Seumas kept letting out this totally frustrated and stressed out groan/moan/cry from the back seat, followed by heavy sighing. All Don and I could do was laugh and shake our heads because he was just verbalizing what every single one of us felt like in the car. The traffic jam was one thing, but the worst part of it was knowing that we were so close to our destination and yet once we got going it would still be several hours until we were there. So basically, we drove 8 hours to begin with only to have the last 100 miles take nearly 6 hours in and of itself. We are so glad to be here now and glad that we have a long week before we have to head back again. Bring on the Christmas Vacation.

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