Holiday Road: Day 15

Friday, January 4

As I recounted earlier, snow and car accidents kept us from completing the final leg of our long journey home. We stayed overnight in Redding, CA, hoping that we would be able to make it home the next day. Discover step by step car restoration process by Classiq Cars services.

I woke at 4:30 am for an early morning reconnaissance mission up Interstate 5. When I reached the exit where we had been forced to turn around the day before and found that the roadblock had been removed, I concluded that the road was open and turned around. When I got back to the hotel, we roused the boys and departed Redding with no breakfast.

We hit the first snow as we ascended near Mount Shasta. About this time we noticed that we had acquired a small crack in the windshield on the passenger side. At first it wasn’t visible from the inside, but as we climbed we watched the crack grow! While we watched over a thirty second span, it stretched at least two more inches towards the center of the windshield. I turned down the defrost and it seemed to stop for the moment. It would continue to grow in fits and starts throughout the day whenever there were major differences in the inside and outside temperatures and later replace the windshield with the help of the autoglasstec services which specialize in this.

We had not put on the chains but we wouldn’t need them yet. A snow plow was less than half a mile ahead of us and when we reached what appeared to be the summit, he exited and headed back down from whence we came. At the same time, a snow plow from the other direction turned around at the same exit and blazed a trail for us going down.

Once we got back down to where it was raining, we stopped at a gas station to get fuel for the Scion and snacks for us. Since the pumps were covered by a canopy, I decided that it would be a good time to put on the new chains since we were certain to hit snow again at the Siskiyou Summit which was about 10 miles away. Unfortunately, my clever plan did not work as well as I would have liked. Because I had pulled to the forward-most pump, the front of the car (where the chains go on a front-wheel drive car) was sticking out from under the canopy. I had on the new raincoat which Tina had given me for Christmas and it worked perfectly, but my sweat pants were soon soaked as I struggled to put the chains on. Putting on chains requires quite a bit of knee-to-pavement contact, especially when one doesn’t know what he’s doing.

Unbeknownst to me, not all tire chains work the same and these were very unlike the set that I had bought and mastered for the van. Parts of the directions seemed vague until I was nearly done. When the meaning of “hooks up” became obvious, I removed the chains and started over again. After struggling with them for at least 45 minutes, we were finally ready to roll. I remembered the extra pair of dry pants from the night before and changed into them before we left. Now things were starting to fall into place!

It wouldn’t be long, though, before we began doubting our decision to chain up early. Driving the car over 45 mph caused a horrendous sound to come from the tires and Thomas pointed out that the directions said you shouldn’t drive over 40 mph with the chains. So we bump-bumped along for ten miles before we started seeing signs of snow. Soon, though, we felt good about our decision as we passed people trying to chain up in the cold. There were even entrepreneurs who were charging a fee to chain up other people’s cars. We drove right by the whole mess and continued on up to the pass.

There were no snowplows in sight this time but we traversed the pass at full speed (i.e. 40 mph) nearly the whole time and it was only about 45 minutes before we crossed the state line and descended into Ashland. After a delicious breakfast in Ashland, Tina took over the driving for the rest of the day while I napped. When I woke up Portland loomed in the distance and we faced afternoon rush hour on a Friday afternoon. It was only fitting, though, as it had seemed that the last hour was always the longest of each day of our entire journey.

Holiday Road: Day 14

Thursday, January 3

We awoke Thursday morning with the intention of driving all day until we were home. After breakfast with Rob at a nearby restaurant, we embarked on what we thought would be the final leg of our long journey. Once again I navigated us out of the city and then handed over driving duties to Tina for a few hours while I napped.

When I awoke it was mid-afternoon, we were exiting Interstate 5 and I observed that there were a number of semi trucks parked on the shoulder. Although we were stopping for gas and food, we soon found that we would be waiting longer than we wanted. Despite my bleary state, I did think to ask “Are we north of Redding yet?” to which the answer was “Yes”. Just north of Redding is Mount Shasta and then the Siskiyou Pass at the California/Oregon border. Both are above 4000 feet elevation and can get snow during the winter months.

According to the truckers at the restaurant/gas station, such was the case on this day. There was also an accident reported and, as a result of these two factors, Interstate 5 northbound was closed at the next exit. We tuned to a local AM radio station that is broadcast by the California Department of Transportation who confirmed this information and also reported that chains would be required for all vehicles except four wheel drive. Anticipating that we would almost certainly need chains, Tina bought a set from the gas station at an outrageous markup. We had a long lunch and decided to try our luck again. We spent about an hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic and were eventually directed onto the next exit because the road was still closed.

Once we were southbound again, we drove back to Redding and hunted for a hotel. Since Redding is slightly west of the interstate, we had to drive around a few minutes before we found a hotel. We found a great old motel with a pool and a nice old lady at the counter. While I waited for her to complete the paper work, I observed a Post-It note on the counter which said “Hot tub is out of order.” I jokingly mentioned it and said that I had really been looking forward to using it. She told me that the only problem was a leaky ceiling and we could use it if we didn’t mind getting wet. We both had a laugh over that.

Once again I unloaded the bags from the top of the Scion and the boys helped me haul them into the motel room. It was not long before I realized that the thin tarp we had put over the bags was mostly ineffectual. Not only had the wind worn holes in it, but all of the suitcases also got wet on the bottom where there was no protection from the rain. My new books had gotten wet and would eventually warp but all the electronic stuff was safe inside their little bag. We’ll need a better rooftop solution for our next trip.

While looking for the laundry room, I found the hot tub, which was the size of a very small pool. I showed the boys and we resolved that the first thing we did would be to have a soak. It proved to be incredibly relaxing and fun with the Tina and boys as all the stress of the day melted away. After 45 minutes, we retired to the room while Tina resumed the search for the laundry room. She was successful and also reported that the nearby restaurant was due to close soon so we should get in there while we could. The people there were really nice and served us one of the best road meals of our trip. Tina was in and out to the nearby laundry room while we ate. She washed and dried a change of clothes for everyone as well as an extra pair of pants for me. Everybody was incredibly upbeat when we returned to the room but also relaxed with full bellies. In no time at all we were all asleep in anticipation of a very early wake up.