Road Trip Blues

It all started with jambalaya. We flew to California for Christmas, New Years and then a road trip. We were at our son’s home for New Years with a car borrowed from a friend for this trip. It’s been a tradition for Tom to make jambalaya on New Year’s day for 30 years. Naturally everyone wanted jambalaya and Tom offered to make it. Katie and family came down for New Year’s also so we were all together for the first time in a long time.

The night before the preparation, our son’s wife walked into the kitchen and as she did, water came up through the floor boards. This was not good. They had just put in new floors and painted all the cabinets, and something was leaking. The culprit turned out to be the dishwasher. The plumber was called first thing in the morning and gave the wonderful news that water was everywhere, under the floors and in the walls and everything would have to come out. The insurance people came over, declared a disaster and immediately got a crew to tear out the floors. Not only that but they set up 5 industrial fans and a humidifier. If you’ve never tried to make jambalaya with industrial fans going, count your blessings.

After the jambalaya disaster/success, we were off on our road trip. First to Phoenix, then San Diego, Balboa Island, back to our son’s for one night, then back to our daughter’s in the Bay Area for the twins 10th birthday. This was the period where they had torrential rains. While we were gone, Katie and Drew bought a new SUV and gave us their old one. That was the good news, the bad news was we had to drive it back to Minnesota. After two days at Katie’s, the Northern route we were going to take wasn’t available as they had tons of snow up in Tahoe and the roads were closed. We decided to take the longer Southern route.

The weather followed us. Downpours of rain on our way south made the driving stressful. We finally reached Arizona and planned to go to Flagstaff the following morning, but they had 2 feet of snow and it wasn’t stopping. The news the next morning advised not going to Flagstaff if that had been your plan. Once again plans changed as we decided to go an even longer route through Phoenix. We had just been to Phoenix at the beginning of our road trip and now we were going back.

Truth or Consequences, NM was our goal that day, a town of about 6,000. It might have been small but the hotel was nice and after the hotel from the previous night, very welcome. Our plan had been to reach Santa Fe and stay there a couple of days as neither of us had ever been there. That plan was also out the window but we could go through Santa Fe the next day and stop for lunch. As we were driving, I was looking at the Santa Fe tourist guide. It has 320 days of sun a year, lots of restaurants and shops and charming architecture. As we got closer, the weather got worse. We were going to hit one of the 45 days a year with no sun. By the time we parked it was raining hard and cold. As we were having a very pleasant lunch it started sleeting. Were we going to walk up to the Plaza anyway? We were there, we were going to do it. What a miserable experience. You could see how nice it would be on one of those 320 days with sun.

About an hour out of Santa Fe we hit sun! With good weather, Tom decided I was capable of driving. It was about another two hours when it got cloudy and we started going up. All of a sudden it started snowing hard and then we came to almost a stop as we were going up a pass, there was a snowplow ahead of us followed by a line of cars and trucks. We were crawling but there were SUV’s and pick-up trucks passing through the snow on the left, and passing fast like they were Formula 1 drivers. I was not that brave and Tom was quite stressed by the fact that I was driving. We had not yet reached the summit but the snowplow suddenly stopped and pulled off to the side. We were entering the state of Colorado and no way was he going to plow Colorado roads. As we made our way down, the weather got worse and visibility was an issue. Then Tom announced he was going to drive, so we pulled off at the first gas station we could. He took over the driving and our goal was to get to Pueblo, CO in one piece. Initially we had hoped to make it to Nebraska but that wasn’t going to happen. We did make it to Pueblo and spent the night. The next day didn’t look too bad so we were hoping to get to Denver and beyond. Denver was only 116 miles away.

Close to Denver, the weather once again got bad. We turned east on I-76 which connects with I-80 at the Nebraska border. The snow increased and the road was down to one fairly clear lane with very little traffic. We saw a message board that read “I-76 closed at Sterling, CO. I-80 closed through Nebraska.” No wonder there was very little traffic. Using an called Next Exit we found a shopping center off the highway. The road to it was covered in snow. We were thankful for all wheel drive as we made our way there. Once there, we stopped at a Target for coffee and to plot our next move. We called our nephew who wanted to meet us for dinner. Dinner? That was the furthest thing from our minds. We were trying to cross Nebraska.

If we could get back to I-25 near Ft. Collins, we could go north to Cheyenne, WY and to HWY 80 through Nebraska that way. We have friends in Ft. Collins we haven’t seen in several years. We called them and they told us to come right over when we got there and stay for as long as it took because by now the weather forecast indicated I-80 would be closed for some time. We were stuck. We stayed in Ft. Collins for two days waiting for the roads to open and had a great time. So much to talk about and so fun to catch up. It turned out to be a highlight of the trip. But we should have done laundry!

Two days later we made it to Sioux Falls, SD. It was a long day but the weather was good and the leg to Alexandria from Sioux Falls was a short one. Besides reusing underwear and driving through dense ground fog the next day, we made it home at last and were happy to be there. The sun was shining brightly, the house was fine and not too cold, and there were a ton of ice houses on the lake for fishing. A three day trip took seven full days and nearly 2900 miles of driving but boy, was it good to be home.

9 thoughts on “Road Trip Blues

  1. Wanda Schnabel says:

    What an adventure you had in the mountains west! I live just south of Fort Collins and am glad to hear you found respite in Colorado. The locals have been complaining about the horrible weather in January and the whole month looked like Minnesota. Go back to Santa Fe someday – it is wonderful!

  2. Leslie says:

    Wow! Driving in winter weather is stressful, for sure! Given all the flight cancellations during that time period, you probably got home sooner driving !!😁

  3. Liz Heery says:

    You just never know what’s in store when traveling in the winter. We have a story about driving back from Bozeman one Thanksgiving…not as long as yours but I can imagine the surprises at every turn. Wow! 30 years of Jambolaya…we have many years of black eyed peas and collards….its supposed to bring good luck so maybe Tom should switch next year! Ha! Although I can’t attest to it….Love and Happy New Year!

  4. Susan says:

    You must have a lot of energy. It’s a bad time of year to travel, especially this year. Glad you made it home okay.

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