Clash with the Titan

North America
March 4th 2014
Published: March 4th 2014
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Ominous skiesOminous skiesOminous skies

Hint of things to come.....
At this point, we are not really sure how many cross-country trips we’ve taken. Suffice to say it is more than a few. Most of the previous voyages provided a chance to kick back, put the cruise control on and take the “three-fingered” steering wheel approach to navigating the highways of America. Our voyage this time was to go from Santa Rosa, California to Englewood, Ohio. Seems simple enough at first glance, but as it turned out, there were just a few issues to overcome to traverse the 2700 miles necessary to arrive safe and sound.

The issue of course, is that we were undertaking this voyage at the beginning of March, which is still winter in the U.S. The old saying is that the month of March “comes in like a lion, leaves like a lamb.” We pretty much experienced the “lion” part of this scenario, as there was some seriously nasty weather. Dave watched the weather closely as our journey drew close, and discovered much to his dismay that a huge late winter storm was to intersect our path for the majority of the way. Our good luck had run out, as we were about to

Occasionally, we even resorted to using a map!!
do battle with a winter storm named “Titan.” Until a year or so ago, winter storms weren’t named, but the Weather Channel (a commercial TV station) decided to start naming them, so there you have it.

Back to the subject of highways…….now, the United States is a fairly large country, but also has a fairly well developed highway system; better know to Americans as the “interstate.” The official title is “Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.” It covers over 47,000 miles (75,600 km) and traverses our nation in a system of generally north/south and east/west roads, which are four lanes at a minimum with no stoplights (although construction and repair are a constant nuisance to maintain upkeep). Now, not to go all Wikipedia on you, construction began in 1956 and was essentially completed in 1992 with the original purpose of being able to transport troops, provide evacuation routes, and oddly enough, there is a provision that there must be a certain amount of straight stretches of the road for an airplane to land in an emergency. Americans in general, think of it as a highway to work or play, certainly not for national
Our new best friendsOur new best friendsOur new best friends

They helped keep the roads clear....thanks!

Okay, enough digression and on to the actual journey. From the casual approach to journeying across this great county, we transitioned into an all-out driving assault in a futile attempt to beat the storm as it raced across the country. We ripped out of Santa Rosa at about 9:30 AM and drove all the way to Flagstaff, Arizona, arriving at about midnight encountering some hard rain, lightening and wind along the way. It was quite a day, driving some 810 miles (1310 km). Four hours of sleep and a quick shower later, we were back at it. We ran it hard and drove all the way to Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is some 960 miles (1560 km) across some of more desolate and beautiful parts of our nation. During this seriously long day, we could feel the powerful wind and experienced some dramatic temperature swings. At one point, the temperature dropped 25 degrees, from 71 degrees, to 46. (21 to 7 C) in fewer than 30 miles. Titan had some punch.

We arrived in Tulsa with sore behinds and really quite exhausted from the day’s voyage. As an aside, the Internet and smart phones
Rough sledding in OklahomaRough sledding in OklahomaRough sledding in Oklahoma

More than two dozen vehicles were unfortunate victims of Titan.
are wonderful devices. We knew we needed some decent places to stay, but each day we did not really know how far we could go, given the nasty weather and all. So driving along, we would discuss how far we could make it. Merry Jo had done some great research for potential lodging, but we needed to be nimble in our approach, and these phones did the trick. On our second day, we made the decision to land in Tulsa for the night. Dave discovered a Crowne Plaza at a good price and the plan was set. We pulled in after 8 PM, had an adult beverage, some warm soup, a warm shower and we were promptly asleep in a fine bed.

But Titan was lurking……Dave had scoured the internet for weather information and a major ice/sleet/snow weather catastrophe was in the making. Remembering of course that they call it a weather forecast for a reason, it sounded really bad, but they were not quite sure exactly where the ice/sleet and snow dividing line was. A huge late winter cold front was colliding with moisture from the south…….crap! We decided to sleep in a little and reassess
Nectar of the GodsNectar of the GodsNectar of the Gods

A good cup of coffee is quite welcome when the temps drop and the wind blows!
in the morning.

We awoke to 14 degrees (-10 C), some ice and wind blowing at over 30 mph (48K). This was going to be a long day. Nonetheless, there was no choice. The storm was upon us, no chance of outrunning it, and no plans to remain in Oklahoma. Time to press on. The going was slow and much to our disappointment, the windshield washer fluid was now frozen, creating another challenge to overcome. The going was slow and we just needed to be careful. We began to count the number of vehicles who were victims of the storm. All told, the number exceeded 25 and there were some nasty crashes, among them a semi-tractor (lorry) on its side, one that involved several vehicles and a truck that jumped the guardrail. It could have been worse, but we were traveling in less populated areas.

As the day wore on, we talked about how far we could go before dark. Being on the road in sub-freezing conditions after dark on a lonesome highway is just plain stupid, so we discussed our options. Our friends Martha and Chuck had told us a few weeks back
Wiper bladesWiper bladesWiper blades

Just bought new ones before the move!
we were welcome to stay with them. We had not planned to, given that our original plans called for us to roll right on through St. Louis, but the plan had dramatically changed. We phoned them and they graciously invited us to their home for the night. The weary travelers had their plan.

It is worthy of note that Chuck and Martha live in a beautiful home. The only caveat is that you have to first go down a steep hill, turn sharply left, and naturally, climb up a substantial hill. Three quarters the up the hill, we could go no further. You can’t back down the hill safely, so now what?

After just a few minutes, their neighbors appeared, with a pick-up truck and a towrope to the rescue! They made it look easy and in no time, we were being pulled to the top of the hill and safely ensconced in their home, warm and safe. We were assured that the road would be plowed by morning…….we hoped. Now these are some great neighbors and we were incredibly lucky and grateful.

After a great meal and watching the Oscars

Was our constant companion.
presentation, we slept again like royalty. We awoke to sunny skies and much to our delight; the steep hills outside had been plowed. We made it out and onto the highway with little trouble and proceed on our way. Day number four of a long journey. We are pleased to report that the only trouble we had on this final day is that our fannies had become quite fatigued from all the travel. We arrived safe and sound in the afternoon and could not have been more pleased. 2700 miles (4345 Km) in 75 hours (which we spent 40 hours driving), a car covered with road salt and two very tired travelers. We had defeated Titan!!

Next stop…….Ireland.

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14


New Mexico beautyNew Mexico beauty
New Mexico beauty

Even in bad weather....still great to look at.
The frozen tundra of IllinoisThe frozen tundra of Illinois
The frozen tundra of Illinois

Lots of this view as we traversed the Midwest....
Crossing the MississippiCrossing the Mississippi
Crossing the Mississippi

Getting closer......
Tilted water tower in TexasTilted water tower in Texas
Tilted water tower in Texas

Now we could tell you it was so windy.....but you wouldn't believe us!
The famous Route 66The famous Route 66
The famous Route 66

Interstate 40 closely parallels this venerable road in many places. Sadly, we did not have the time to drive on it.
More beautyMore beauty
More beauty

Additional image from Arizona
A familiar imageA familiar image
A familiar image

Trucks on the road.

4th March 2014

I could feel the cold
What a trip Dave and Merry Jo. I am so grateful that you made it safely. It often depends less on your driving skill and more on others. I'm glad you took some pictures. Some hot summer day, you can read this blog and be glad you aren't out there doing it again.
4th March 2014

Wicked cold
We have driven across country many times and a few times in the winter....this was an unusual trip and challenging. After I took a photo of the one truck I decided I didn't want to take photos of the others because it was so sad. Many awful wrecks.
4th March 2014

Outrunning Titan
I wondered what you were up to and where you would surface next! Glad you are safe after such terrible weather! So now you are going to Ireland? Nice. That is still on my bucket list. Have you decided on your next permanent (for a while) place? Keep in touch. :-) Marsha
5th March 2014

So Glad You're Safe!
Thanks for the post; so happy you are safe! Quite the winter - we are sunning and funning at Turtle Beach, Siesta Key, Sarasota, Florida! Happy Trails!
5th March 2014

Siesta Key
We've spent a lot of time at Siesta Key and would have liked to have been there instead of making that drive! Enjoy the beach for us and eat some seafood.
5th March 2014

Winter Travel
I'm glad you made it safe and sound. I'm not a winter weather driver any more, hate the stuff. Hence being held up in the sunny south for a good long while now. Enjoy Ireland.
5th March 2014

Winter travel
We've made the travel across country at least two other times in the winter and never had any problems except cold and wind. This was a challenge. Glad the drive is behind us.
5th March 2014

What a journey...
Glad you guys made it safely! xx
5th March 2014

A beautiful drive
Normally a beautiful drive but our attentions were focused more on the pavement. An interesting story to tell.
5th March 2014

Good thing we decided not to meet in Albuquerque for dinner!!!
That was quite a trip, butt you handled it well. We just booked our flights to South and Central America...leaving 30 April. Can't wait!!
5th March 2014

You are not kidding it is a very good thing we decided not to meet in ABQ. We zipped by at 75 or 80 miles an hour trying to beat the storm. We did enjoy the lightening show. So happy to hear you'll be in South America soon.
5th March 2014

What a journey!!
Driving tha distance all in 4 days would be a feat in itself but to contend with the weather too ..... I am in awe!! Do you drive in shifts ? I am so glad you made it safely - we have sure had some terrible weather this winter. And some people stil deny climate change . Look forward to reading about Ireland . I have only been once I the far north ... To see Giants Causeway and the coastal areas there are stunning . Take care
5th March 2014

Winter journey across America
Yes we take turns driving. We do about 150 or 200 miles and then switch drivers. It keeps us sharp and both of us are good at taking naps in the car. Guess that means we are comfortable with each others driving. We will be staying near the Giants Causeway for a couple of days and looking forward to seeing it. Cheers.
5th March 2014

Clash with the Titan
Hi Dave & Merry Jo, What a great (somewhat scary) trip! You would certainly have had to have your wits about you on such a long journey under such conditions. Can certainly relate to your sore behinds, as cross-country trips here in Oz are of similar distances to those in the States. Have previously travelled the interstates in the States but, never under your conditions. :) Your photo of Route 66 has, once again, renewed our enthusiasm to do that trip one day. It's on the bucket list! :) Jan xx
5th March 2014

An amazing drive
We've made the drive in all 4 seasons and even in winter this is the first time we had a real problem. Generally the winter trips are cold but the sky is blue, crisp and clear. Our timing could not have been worse this time but the landscape was still amazing. We were just out to test our driving abilities. You will love Route 66 or the portions of it that remain. Happy travels!
5th March 2014

Glad you made it home safely. Brrrrrr...... I'd freeze in that weather. May need a full week to thaw before my limbs wake up. Much love, Lili
5th March 2014

Wicked winter, ice and snow
What a combination of elements to deal with but as you say we are warm and safe now. We are enjoying a few days with family before we head to Ireland. Should be fun.
5th March 2014

Oh, snow and ice even here in Memphis
So brave to face the mean wrath of Titan! As I write this I am babysitting my granddaughter as Memphis schools have been closed now for 3 days! I know..coming form MA it seems a bit our of proportion but many people and area in the county are still without power so.... here we are. The south stopped cold by 2 inches of snow and some ice. I was lucky not to lost power but a good friend only 2 streets over lost it Sunday night and just got it back at 3 a.m. Yesterday the highways in Arkansas were parking losts so you just beat the major part of this storm. Ireland- how lovely. It will most likely be cold and rainy so bring your longjohns and raingear. Where in particular are you going? I spent 9 days there in Sept. mostly in Cork and a couple of days in Dublin. If you like theater be sure and go to the famous Abbey theater (you can buy seat on line) best in the house was about $40. Happy St. Paddy's Day! Carolyn
6th March 2014

Hello Carolyn
When you've spent years in snowy lands and moved to warmer climates it is humorous how ill equipped they are for snow but the just can't deal with it. We are eager to spend spring in Ireland and will embrace all that it has to offer. I will check out the Abbey theater. Enjoy your granddaughter.
6th March 2014

That sounds like a harrowing adventure. I have never driven across the US but don't think i'll ever attempt this unless it's summer time.
6th March 2014

Nothing like adding some adventure to life
Usually a winter drive across America is cold, crisp blue sky and a bit of wind. This one had far too much precipitation. Yes summertime might be a better choice. Hope all is going well in Bali.
7th March 2014

There's snow place like home!
Pleased you weathered the storm and made it home safely. In contrast, here in the southern UK, the winter's been very kind to us for once (at least it has to all those who don't live near water). By the way, you might like to bear in mind that Travelblog has a world-wide readership. I was confused and amused to hear that your "fannies had become quite fatigued"! In Britain (and in the Antipodes too), 'fannies' are something quite different to what they are in the USA. :-)
7th March 2014

UK terminology
Whoops, I looked it up and we won't use that term again! language can get you in trouble when you don't realize it. We were looking at the weather channel yesterday and it looks like our weather in Ireland will be pretty good.
8th March 2014

What a journey! We have done it in summer, but never at this time--despite the weather challenges, your pictures are fabulous. Thanks, Phyllis V.
11th March 2014

Clash with the Titan was quite a voyage....would not want to make a similar one soon. We are now in Ireland and enjoying clear weather. Thanks for reading and responding to our blog....we write it for everyone interested!
8th March 2014

Hairy ride!
Great stuff Dave and Merry Jo. What a journey! Be sure to take your coat to Ireland. It's likely to be wet, though there's a high around the UK for the moment. I guess we brought it back with us from Spain! You didn't tell us why you were making this crazy journey! David and Janice
10th March 2014

Crazy journey
Dave finished his work assignment in California and our families are in Ohio. So our crazy journey was to get from point A to point B in the winter. We had already made reservations to fly out of Ohio to Ireland so we were on a bit of a time line if we wanted to spend any time with our families. The snow storm sounded big so we made an attempt to get ahead of it. The storm caught up with us but fortunately it didn't dump nearly the amount of snow they were expecting. We will be here in Ireland until April, if you are heading this way we would love to meet you. So far the weather is good, yes we have our coats and umbrellas and are prepared for whatever comes our way.

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