Monday, January 26, 2009

A HUGE Post about all SORTS of Stuff

We are not even half way across the distance we have to cover on our drive from California to Illinois. We have driven in rain, sleet, snow, fog, hail and wind. The road has been icy and the road has been long when you take the conditions into consideration. Of course all of this could have been avoided if we had just waited a few days before departing but I was ready to go so we went. We drove smack into a storm system working it's way west right over our heads. We spent the first night in Winnemucca, NV which of course is familiar from the Johnny Cash song "I've Been Everywhere." Although the road in Winnemucca was not so much dusty while we were there as it was slushy. From there we drove across Utah in all sorts of weird conditions. The sky was gorgeous as is the county in that state once we got past the worst of the snow in the Wasatch Mountains. The conditions on 80 were pretty crappy and lots of folks were in the ditch on the grades heading up the mountains.

Up near Park City where they hosted the Olympic Games a few years back the scenery was gorgeous.

We eventually drove out of the snow and I was thrilled to get to see The Bonneville Salt Flats. We just watched the film "The World's Fastest Indian" the other night (which is centered around the place) so it was uncanny timing to drive through the flats. Before seeing the movie I had never even heard of the place. This is an image from the rest stop and not the actual park area. I just love the patterns and atmosphere of this shot. The flats are on the other side of the highway and are actually under water right now. The movie is a gem by the way... rent it if you have never seen it.

Once we hit the area near Big Basin (a huge vast valley floor) the sky opened up and was amazing. The clouds made the surrounding mountains look tiny.

There are some really quaint looking ranches tucked into the valley along the edge of the mountains.

As we neared Salt Lake City the rain and sleet started in as well and really heavy fog. It made for some great shots. This is some sort of factory in the distance but it looks like a white castle through the camera lens, almost like something out of one of the Lord of the Rings flicks.

Here is a freight train running on watery tracks near The Great Salt Lake. The weather was getting pretty nasty by this point.

Lovely mountain reflections...

County Hwy scenes as seen from the interstate...

Fog encroaching on the mountainside...

While driving through Salt Lake City we saw some fellow Airstreamers who were really taking the bull by the horns driving in their motor coach in the sleet. I hope they are headed south!

Yesterday really ended with a bang. We were still driving after dark and had decided to pull off in Evanston, Wyoming for the night. We were about a mile from the exit for Evanston lodging when we took a nose dive off the highway down into the ditch. It came out of nowhere and was one of those surreal moments in an automobile when time slows up and you just have to sit there and wait for the "out of control" moment to be over. We slid off smooth as silk and then rumbled down the steep embankment into about 8 inches of snow in the ditch below. Upon coming to a stop I said "Well, here we are now with all our stuff down here." I pretty much figured we were screwed. We had gone a good 30 feet off the road and the bank was steep. We were already in 4 wheel drive and the truck would not budge. Shit. We called AAA and they said they would send someone out with a truck to get us out within 45 minutes. My biggest worry while sitting down there was that someone else would slide off the road the same way we did and crash into us. That would have been really ugly. A state trooper pulled off to check on us. We chatted with him for a few minutes which was an odd activity to suddenly be involved in. He left and then about a half an hour passed before a truck pulled off and a guy worked his way down the bank to us. Billy rolled down his window and the guy asked "What are you doing?" I found this to be a pretty humorous question considering the circumstances. We explained our position and he said. "You can drive out of here. You're not even in 4 wheel drive." "Huh? Wha?" was our response. He reached down and fiddled with the front wheels and then arose and said "Go. Drive. I will watch you from here." So yeah.... then we DROVE OUT OF THE DITCH. It was SO STUPID. We felt all at once wildly triumphant and stupendously stupid. Oddly enough the tow truck drove up right then and watched the whole thing take place and then followed us a ways down the highway flashing his lights at us. I took the flashing to mean "Thanks a lot you assholes for needlessly dragging me out of my warm house on a sub zero Saturday night."

In a nutshell... we apparently have no idea how to activate the 4 wheel drive on our truck. Anyway... now we do. We spent almost 45 minutes in the ditch for no reason at all other than our own lack of knowledge of our vehicle. So cool. Sooooo cool.

I still can't believe how amazing it felt to just drive outta there. It was totally ridiculous. We are now wondering if we could have just driven right out of the Monument Valley incident as well. I am willing to bet that we were not in 4 wheel drive that day either. As my friend Michelle said... we are getting really good at driving around the country pretending to get stuck.

We made it in to Evanston and that is where we still are right now today. We decided to hang tight for a day and let the storm move on ahead instead of driving right back into the heart of it today. I had to go downtown to mail some stuff earlier and took the opportunity to wander around the alleys shooting some of my favorite style of photos. I love the texture and color in old beat up buildings in small western towns like this. It was freezing cold but I grabbed a few cool shots. I will leave you on that note. We hit the road again tomorrow to make for somewhere on the far East side of Nebraska. I will report in again from our hotel there.

1 comment:

pdidit said...

What the hell is wrong with you guys leaving Calif. in the middle of THIS winter? To go to Il.? Man I sure hope it's more important than just having the urge to move on. What happened to let's move on to the south? you need to hook up to the weather channel. Good luck and stay safe