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Published: March 4th 2014
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 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 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 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
Just bought new ones before the voyage.....smart 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!!
Tot: 0.043s; Tpl: 0.023s; cc: 18; qc: 24; dbt: 0.0095s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb