The Long and Winding Road

I have a place in Mesa. It’s not terribly palatial, but it does the trick if the trick is getting away from the grimness of rain and snow and low slung clouds whose predominant color is gray.

I mention this only in passing…

Recently, my wife and I set out upon the national highway system.

Somewhere in western Texas

Boldly, we strode along I-10, from Mesa to the wilds of Houston, Texas, where it was 80 degrees. Typical Christmas weather. Had a great time. Following our time there, which included a trip to College Station and The TAMU campus (which oddly had me thinking of finishing my degree), we boldly journeyed on to Denver. Overnighting in Amarillo gave us the opportunity to see old Cadillacs, half buried and covered in spray paint, set in what appeared to be a cornfield.

The journey to Denver was uneventful other than it being windy.

I cannot say the same for the events that followed, both in the Denver metropolitan area and in our efforts to get to Seattle.

Did I mention we have a place in Mesa, Arizona?

The day after we arrived in Denver, a good portion of two bedroom communities near Boulder burned up, destroying a thousand homes and businesses. This was followed by a snowstorm. It is at such times that people have an issue with the idea of a benevolent god. On the plus side, I got to play Parcheesi with my sister and her family.

Then, because we’re out of our minds (and we had a few obligations), we boldly made our way northwest. Up I-25 to Wyoming, rather than I-70 because the Colorado passes were deep in snow, passed the wreckage of those who got caught in the previous storm (yet didn’t see that as an omen), we motored. West on I-80 through all that southern Wyoming has to offer, with high winds and icy patches and the vastness that is the American west. Then onto I-84 and Twin Fall, Idaho.

There we learned of an incoming snow storm and wisely decided to stay an extra day. Turns out the Holiday Inn Express had an indoor pool. The following day, lulled by mostly clear roads, we headed out thinking: what could go wrong?

Somewhere in Idaho or Oregon.

All was hunky-dory until we got to the town of LaGrand, Oregon, and learned that the highway was closed due to weather and a semi that had jackknifed. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of visiting LaGrand, it’s a wonderful place with access to all kinds of outdoor activities. It’s also a place that you can’t get out off if they close the highway because all the other mountain roads will be closed too.

Four hours later and on the cusp of having to find a room for the night (or a cold night in the car), word came to us that Deadman’s Pass, yes, that what it’s called, was open for those foolish enough to give it a go. There were not many. Yet boldly we journeyed on, hoping like crazy that we’d make it across the pass before what little light we had dropped down into that distant night.

More foolishness came to me when I hoped and prayed that once we dropped down out of the pass we’d be back to mostly clouds and some rain. Nope. Blowing snow until we gave up at The Dalles (a scenic vacation spot along the Columbia River). This turned out to be fortuitous as I-84 was shutdown east of Portland due to landslides from all the rain they were getting.

Good times.

Now normally when travelling back to Seattle, we’d trudge along I-82 through the tri-cities, Yakima, and over Snoqualmie Pass. However in checking the glum weather app on my phone, I was appraised that a river of water was descending on the Cascade Mountains of Washington and knew exactly what that meant: 3 days stuck in Ellensburg (not that Ellensburg is a bad place) because the passes would all be closed. Not wanting to be stuck, and spending even more money than we had planned, we took I-84, which ends at I-5, which heads up to Seattle, and adds 80 miles to the trip.

However…

I also knew that rivers of water not only clog the mountain passes with snow, shutting them down, but also lead to flooding, which along the I-5 corridor near Chehalis can shut down I-5.

Time was not on our side.

Determined and reminded that people have foolishly endured this through the ages, we got up early, crossed the Columbia, and took the scenic route.

Somewhere along the Columbia River on the Washington side.

It rained the entire time we were on the road.

More good times.

We made it passed Chehalis without a problem only to sit in traffic between Olympia and JBLM (Joint-Base-Lewis-McChord) just because. I-5 got shutdown the next day. Gritty and gritted, we made it home. It was cold and soggy and wet.

Gray.

Did I mention we have a place in Mesa?

Sunny and 70…

©2022 David William Pearce

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