Snowpocalypse 2008

Inside and outside tables
Originally uploaded by rynosoft

Someone on Twitter coined the term “snowpocalypse” to describe the breathless media frenzy of the impending snow storm last week. Unfortunately, the snow has not melted and it has been a little snowpocalyptic around here since it arrived. I snapped a few pictures and put them in a set on my Flickr account. Unfortunately, there are probably more to come. I left Iowa 20 years ago to get away from this crap!

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. DiscoverĀ 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.

Hey Oh

It snowed in Portland again today. We still had snow from last week which was unusual for Portland. Even more unusual was getting an appreciable amount of snow twice in the same winter. Today’s snowfall was probably around six inches. The temperature remained below freezing but that will likely change tomorrow. No school and no work for anybody in our house today. Tina and the kids went to the neighbors’ house to play in the snow with their friends while I stayed warm at home. I split my time between Tivo, Wii, computer and keeping Nietzsche warm. I anticipate a cold bike ride late tomorrow morning.

Why can’t I free your doubtful mind?

The temperature has not risen above freezing since it snowed last week. The furnace has been working overtime to keep the house warm and Tina and I have been fighting off a dry cough that mysteriously arises when we’re trying to sleep at night. After noticing the cough disappear during the daytime, I was finally able to conclude that our furnace filters were dirty. I also assumed that the filter in our bedroom vent and the one in my CPAP machine needed to be changed, too. Thus, my mission last night was to remedy the problem with fresh filters all around.

The first step was to be the purchase of said filters at the Home Depot which is about a mile away from the 102nd Avenue Blue Line station. Before leaving I double checked with the online Goodman furnace and AC webiste to make sure I knew what model I needed. Biking there would be relatively easy, I thought, and then I’d just bike back and get back on the Max. It didn’t quite work out that way.

The ride to the Home Depot was relatively short but it was wicked cold – 28 degrees with a strong east wind blowing out of the Gorge. The furnace filter section had been recently devastated and there were no 14 x 21 x 1’s left. I searched for about 15 minutes before finally summoning help, which was slow to arrive and could only confirm that they were out. I picked up a nifty vent plate with a built-in filter (I had previously jury-rigged our bedroom vent with a cutout furnace filter). After the quick self-checkout, I left having spent an hour on my “quick” errand and I still wasn’t done.

I mapped out the remaining business landscape between Home Depot and home and decided my next best bet would be the True Value on 122nd. Although it was 7:00 by then, I had a little hope that it might still be open. If not, there was a Staples right next to it that would be open and might have filters. I rode to the 102nd Avenue station and, seeing no Max in sight, decided to continue by bike to 122nd.

Those 20 blocks proved more difficult that I had imagined, especially since much of the bike lane still contained frozen slush, crunchy snow and the occasional scary patch of ice. Because the Max tracks run right down the middle of the street, Burnside is a single lane one-way on each side of the Max. That means that swerving out of the bike lane to avoid hazardous biking conditions is mostly out of the question. Because of that, I detoured north to Glisan where there is no bike lane, but there are four lanes of traffic.

As I approached 122nd and Glisan, I was delighted to see a heretofore unconsidered Target store come into view. Gleefully, I pulled into the parking lot fully expecting to find the filters. Unfortunately, I was met by 20-odd feet of broken car glass. With a car on my left, I was unable to swerve out of it and my tires took the full brunt. There was no immediate hissing so I put it out of my mind for the time being.

Target did, in fact, have the filters in the size I needed. They even had the fancy pleated kind. I stopped by the electronics section to check for Wii’s and Wii remotes (they had neither) before checking out, bundling up and riding off to face the chill from the east. I headed north on 122nd until I took up my normal route heading east on Halsey. That particular stretch of road is probably the worst part of my commute during the winter because of the east winds from the Gorge. This night it was even more difficult because of the aforementioned ice, snow and frozen slush that clogged about a mile of the bike lane. Finally, I headed down the hill on 162nd which marks the “home stretch” to my nightly commute. That stretch culminates in an especially critical section of road where the bike lane narrows absurdly under the railroad underpass. During that section, I “take the lane” and get in front of any traffic so I can be plainly seen.

Right as I made my move, I noticed that the balance of my bike felt a little funny. I thought it felt a little like a flat front tire, but the steering still seemed to be working perfectly. I slowed down drastically to avoid crashing directly in front of the car which was now tailgating me as we careened down the hill. I slowed to nearly stopped for my left turn onto Stanton and powered my way up the hill. I jumped off at the top of the hill and check my rear tire. Sure enough it was going flat. Over the objections of my already numb feet, I hoofed it the remaining four blocks home.

The new vent plate was too small for our vent, but the new furnace filters worked well. Neither Tina or I had any problems with the dry cough last night and I slept extraordinarily well.

Snow Day

Last night it snowed about an inch. Thomas and Graham went outside for about an hour before bedtime to have a snowball fight and then build a snowman with their friend Ziad. The temperature was about 35Ā° which made the snow perfect – sticky but still soft.

As I watched them cavort in the snow, I remembered the first time my hands got really, really cold. It was probably the first winter on my paper route and my gloves (or mittens) were horribly inadequate. I came home with very cold fingers and my mom had me put them under running water to thaw them out. I remember screaming that the water was too hot and my mom telling me that it was cold water. After that I always wore a pair of snowmobile mittens over another pair of gloves.

Much to our surprise the snow was still on the ground this morning and school as first delayed and then cancelled altogether. Thomas and Graham were outside for quite awhile before their play devolved into a fight. Graham had to come in and stay in his room and Thomas wasn’t far behind.

I decided to stay home, too. I’m going to try to divert attention away from the Wii this afternoon and toward Pinewood Derby cars. The race is on the 21st and we have not even started!