Friday, December 10, 2010

Neither Rain nor Sleet nor Lookout Pass....


After enjoying a wonderful lunch with my Washington host, Mark Zembruski, I made a really stupid tactical error.  I needed to gas up, and there was a McDonald's with free WiFi next to the gas station, so I decided to hang out and take care of some business.  About 90 minutes later, I hit the road.  By this time I think it was around 3:30 pm....and the skies were foreboding.
I'd decided to drive all the way to Missoula, MT last night and Mark graciously offered to book my hotel room there, so I was all set.  It was supposed to be about a 7-8 hour drive.  No problem, says I.  HA HA.

First on the driving hit parade I had to go back through Snoqualmie pass, which had been a breeze when I was coming in but which was now snow covered and blowing snow as well. It was a relief when I finally made it through that.  I stopped in Ritzville, WA for about a half hour and had a peppermint mocha and used the internet to see how the new video is doing, then I hit the road again.  BTW the new video can be found here:

I passed through Spokane and at some point I decided to get off the road again and get a soda.  That's when I got lost in a giant truck facility.  I felt like I was in a nightmare, but I finally got back on the road, only to hit the mother of all dangerous driving conditions...a blizzard in a mountain pass. This was the thing I'd been fearing the whole time I was planning the trip.  Cars and trucks sliding all over the place.  I can't even remember what time it was when traffic finally came to a dead halt in the middle of I-90 at Lookout Pass in Idaho.

Snoqualmie Pass had been a cakewalk compared to this. I can't even remember what time it was but I know we were stopped for at least an hour, probably more as they cleared accidents and sanded a lane.  I actually fell asleep while waiting.
 Going again gave me a second wind and I was doing pretty well until  it got to be around 3:30am and I could feel the eyelids drooping.  I was not far from my exit so I sang loud and tapped my leg to stay awake...and then....and then.......ten miles from my exit........I RAN OUT OF GAS!!!!!!  (Ah yes, I can hear all the men out there groaning.  )  I really thought I had enough to make it, but I was going up a hill and apparently the little bit that was left sloshed the wrong way and everything started to die.  I pulled over and there I was TEN MILES from my exit in darkest night.  I called AAA and by the way, you should know that if you are a member of a local AAA club your number does not work all over the US...but they got me connected to the right club and one hour later the tow truck arrived. I was terrified of being stuck out there so I got out of the van and stood in the snow off the road for a good portion of that time.  In that whole time only one Good Samaritan stopped and it was a WOMAN.  I told her I had AAA coming with gas and she went on but God bless you lady wherever you are.
The tow truck driver, Jake, got a little confused about where I was (even though I gave specific location apparently it got lost in the translation between me and the dispatcher and Jake) but he was a sweetie.  He put the gas in and charged the battery, which had died by then from the flashers, and I was on my way.  I made it to the hotel at 5:15am and another Good Samaritan at the front desk gave me a late checkout so I was able to drop into the sack.  Unfortunately, I awoke at 10:30 am with a horrendous cramp in my right leg and couldn't get back to sleep so decided to do laundry and catch up on email and stuff.

I'm hitting the road again and going to try to make it to Rapid City tonight. But first I'm going to do the one thing that I have been dreaming of during this whole trip and have not had time to do and that is hit the GOLDEN CORRAL!!!!!!!

More later, if I survive!!

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