Saturday, December 22, 2007

One Day More

Another Day, Another Destiny.

Ok, no more show tunes.

We've spent the last 3 days driving across the country, and now sit in our hotel in Brookville, Ohio, just west of Dayton. We're ready to be home, but have a few more hours to go.

As a quick aside, for anyone looking for cheap but good hotel rooms, find "Room Saver" magazines in truck stops. They have pretty good deals on a decent range of hotels, and can easily save 20 or 25 bucks even off the AAA price. The more you know...

Yesterday morning, we woke up and tuned into the Weather Channel as we ate our continental breakfast near Grand Junction, CO. I-70 over the Rockies was going to be our tough day weather-wise, so we were anxious to see what lay ahead of us. There were a few bands of snow on the radar, but nothing too serious. So, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, we pulled out.

The first 40 miles or so was fine, so we got excited, but near the town of Glenwood Springs, snow started falling, and trucks were kicking up all kinds of garbage on the windshield. Now, when you live in southern California, changing windshield wiper blades isn't really something you think about. As a result, I crawled down the freeway to the next exit to buy some new wiper blades. The Conoco station at which we stopped didn't have any (???), but we were directed to a Target and found some, as well as some Starbucks to get our morning going.

An hour and a few curse words later, we figured out how to get the new blades on, so we took off again, after an unintentional tour of Glenwood Springs. We got back on the road, and saw that they were now requiring chains for all trucks. We had chains with us, but certainly preferred to not have to use them, so we hoped it would stay clear enough for our 2WD car to make it over the pass. As we slowly approached Vail Pass, the snow got quite a bit worse, so we eventually decided to pull off and take care of business and buy some water in case we got stuck on the pass. Naturally, the gas station promised by the blue interstate sign happened to be 3 miles off the road, but there wasn't another nearby exit, so we didn't have much choice. Of course, this road wasn't plowed at all, so I got to practice my winter mountain driving. "Turn into the skid." "The best way to pull a donut is..." All words of wisdom from my driver's ed teacher.

So, we crawled through the pass, sliding a bit, but never in serious danger of losing control of the car. We then had to stop again as we ran out of windshield washer fluid, but then we coasted through the Eisenhower Tunnel at over 11000 feet, and then eventually wound our way down into Denver, which was sunny and dry. Amazing the difference a couple of miles of elevation can make.

After an uneventful trip up I-76 into Nebraska, we dined at a Wendy's in North Platte, NE, and then moved onto York, where we spent the night.

We slept modestly at the Holiday Inn of York, NE, and then got up to cross the heartland. I led a guided tour of my childhood home, school, church, and various spots of mischief in Bellevue/Omaha, and then we crossed the Missouri into Iowa.

It turns out that there is a rule that any state that starts with an I must be completely socked in by fog. Literally a couple of miles into Iowa, we couldn't see anything beyond the road, and that continued all the way to the Indiana/Ohio border. At times, we couldn't drive at anywhere near interstate speeds. At least we didn't miss much scenery-wise.

The highlight of the day came with Erin sleeping and me driving, somewhere between Des Moines and Iowa City on I-80. We were going along at about 70 mph, a bit too fast given the fog, but fine as long as no one slammed on the brakes. However, the fog got worse suddenly, and everyone slammed on the brakes. I had left enough room in front of me to stop, but the guy on my tail had left about 4 inches, so I ended up swerving into the median so he wouldn't slam into my backside. A guy a few cars in front of my swerved so far into the snowy median that he almost slid into the oncoming westbound lane. He had passed me going way too fast for conditions a few seconds before, so it was hard not to feel as though he received his comeuppance. He was spinning his tires, unsuccessfully trying to get going when we drove by.

Otherwise, not much happened. The fog over the Mississippi was so bad that we couldn't see the water from the bridge on I-80. We wound our way down a foggy I-74 and picked up I-70 in Indianapolis, and then cruised to Dayton.

So, here we are! We're hoping for a smooth day tomorrow and a safe arrival in Lexington.


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