Our Adventure to California, Part 1Posted by Rachel on January 9th, 2013
Last month, we drove down to Santa Rosa, California, for my brother’s wedding. We started our trip the morning after Christmas, at 6:00 am. If that wasn’t already early enough, Rick was called into work at 3:45 am, and got back just in time to wake the rest of the family up to get ready and head out the door. It had snowed on Christmas day (yay for a white Christmas!), so the roads were slick and snowy (not so much yay). It was still dark when we headed out. In fact, it was dark for about the first 2 hours of our driving, which was slow and windy.
At first, Rick was doing fine, probably fueled from adrenaline. Eventually, he became almost too tired to keep his eyes open, but we planned to switch places in McDermitt, NV where I would take over with the driving. We laughed like maniacs, both sleep-deprived, and finally pulled into the little store where we’d take bathroom breaks and switch off on driving. The roads weren’t getting any better, so as painful as it was, I had to drive around 40 miles an hour on a 70 mph highway. I saw other people putting chains on, but chains are stupid and dumb and I hate them (except when I absolutely need them), so with gritted teeth, I kept driving through the slushy and slippery roads until we finally made it to Winnemucca, where we’d get onto Interstate 80.
At that point, Rick had gotten enough rest to take over again, so he drove the rest of the way. I-80 was pretty smooth, and the speed limit was 75, so we were finally really getting somewhere. We stopped just outside of Reno for another break and to get gas before heading up the Donner Pass. While Rick was filling up the tank, someone pointed out that our rear passenger tire was low. We went to put some air in it, but as we did, we just heard the air hissing right back out of the tire. Greeeat. Time to go to a tire shop.
We found a tire shop that was able to get it patched up and get us on our way before sunset. We spent about an hour waiting in the lobby before everything was done, and were happy that the damage was only $15. With sighs of relief, we started heading toward the pass. Unfortunately, chains were required for vehicles without 4WD, and yay for us, our car isn’t 4WD. So, about 30 minutes of struggling to get those dang chains on, we were finally on our way. The chains made it almost unbearably loud to drive. We both felt like we were going crazy. Chains are NOT supposed to drive on clear roads, but we would not have been allowed to pass without them (and they had a checkpoint), so we had no way out of it. When we reached Donner Summit, there was only a small amount of snow on the road. It was so much less than what we’d already driven in—we would have been fine without the chains. But, rules are rules. We eagerly looked for where we could take the chains off, and were happy that not long past the summit, we were allowed to. So, we quickly took them off (so much easier to take off than put on) and were on our way. I was so happy and relieved! But only five minutes later, traffic came to a complete standstill.
We weren’t sure what was up, but seeing as how traffic had been severely backed up at the beginning of the pass, we thought that maybe things would start moving soon. But over an hour passed with absolutely NO movement. The kids, who had done exceedingly well thus far (especially Epiphany, who had not fussed ONCE in the 12+ hour journey) were starting to get antsy, so we went outside and let them play in the dark, along the highway, in the snow. Lots of other people were out walking around, walking their dogs, or just pacing back and forth. Some ran up ahead to see if they could figure out what was causing the delay. (We heard that it was a pileup, but nobody we talked to saw any evidence of it). Finally, 1 hour and 15 minutes after waiting, the cars began to move. We quickly and excitedly buckled the kids back in their seats, started the car, and started moving. Within seconds, we realized something was terribly wrong. It was the tire. No, not the one that had been patched up in Reno. It was another one. The front driver’s side tire. It was completely flat.
I am surprised that instead of crying, or yelling, or just sitting silently, numb with frustration, I ran to the back of the car, grabbed the jack, a spare tire, and started pumping the car up. Rick was on the phone with AAA, thinking that we wouldn’t be able to change the tire ourselves, but I was not willing to sit and wait any longer than we already had. So, he started helping me. Within 20 minutes, the tire was changed, and we were on our way again.
It took probably another hour to reach Sacramento, which was our intended stop for the night. A hotel bed never felt so good. We all got to sleep fairly early (for us).
The next morning, we had a nice continental breakfast at the hotel, then headed to our next stop at a friend’s house. This is a friend I’ve known for several years, but had never met in person before. We all had a great visit together, and our kids had lots of fun playing with each other.
At around noon, we headed from their house to our final destination: Santa Rosa.