Friday, June 7, 2013

Historical (Mine) | Driving Cross Country

I thought it would be interesting to keep a paper from my cross country trip from California to Maryland. I didn't know what I would do with it. But I thought having that record might be interesting to see one day.

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The Super Bowl it refers to is the one that was in Dallas when Texas was covered in ice. I was stuck in Coleman, TX at the time. 

I could have left California almost any time in January. I kept watching the weather and thought I would try to plan for the best possible time. It was, after all, winter. 

I also thought by crossing the country as far south as possible I would miss potential problems. After all, it shouldn't be too bad in the south, right? 


I got through half the trip without too much of a problem. Things were actually going quite well. But when I got to Texas, I started running into snow. I had stopped to get some gas, and the registers were having some issues because it was so cold. Everyone was talking about how it was never like that in Texas. Well...apparently then was "Never."

It was bitterly cold.

I kept driving because I figured - being from the Northeast - sooner or later they would have to have plows. They'd have to have salt. There would have to be cars. Well. No.
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Apparently "Never" happens so rarely that they don't really have all that, and locals know to stay home.

I kept going for a while, but boy was it white knuckle time. The roads curved. Went up. Went down. I just kept hoping it would get better. I was not on a primary road, but thought if I could get to a major highway it would be better. I thought about turning off a few times, but I knew what I was facing, so I thought better the "devil you (think) you know."

Well, at one point, I had to find a restroom. Nature was not giving me any choice. My GPS indicated that if I turned on a certain road I could find one. Just as I turned, on the side of the road I saw a couple of cars that had collided. Just as I did, I said "Oh, Shit" as my car started to skid. I didn't know what to do, so I steered toward the side of the road. There was grass there. I should be able to stop.

Thankfully I did. 

But then what?

I looked down the road and it looked really scary, going down and then up. So I got this idea I should head back from the direction I came from. 



I went to make a U-Turn and my car got stuck perpendicular to the road. Cars were turning on the road, and all I kept thinking was please don't skid into me. Please let me get out of here in one piece. Please let my car be OK. I still have half the trip to go with a car full of stuff. 

I went to get out of the car at one point, and I found out the road was like an ice rink. I was in sneakers, but had absolutely zero traction.

Some thought they may be able to help, but weren't sure what they could do. I had questioned if a number of guys got behind the car and pushed, maybe I could get going, after all those tires weren't on ice, and they could get footing. But that idea from the chick in the car with California plates didn't go over well, at first.

Then there was the question of which direction to head. Someone told me that in the direction I was initially headed was Coleman, and that it would be a good direction to go, as a local had plowed their roads. So I listened.

I wound up at a Sonic and tried to decide what to do. All signs pointed to treacherous conditions anywhere else - even on the major highways. The Sonic crew and manager were wonderful to me an and helped me to secure a hotel room for a slightly reduced rate. I was now on borrowed money and time. I couldn't really afford to stay. But I also could not risk going.

I got to the hotel. It was like a Bates Motel. The room was freezing cold. FREEZING. They had told me if I didn't use the second bed, it would be less expensive. But I needed covers so I called and they let me use the covers from the other bed. It took a long while for things to heat up.

I was stranded. 4 Days.

Every day I was calling the number Texas has to check on road conditions. I wanted out so badly. But I looked at cars skidding on the roads. They told me there was black ice. I couldn't risk it. 

Finally one day it appeared that I could have my getaway. It was a window, as another storm was coming. I got on the road at 7 or 8 in the morning, and was intending to spend the night in Little Rock. But when I got to Little Rock I didn't have cell service so I decided to keep going. I wound up driving at night, which is what I was trying to avoid doing. Driving at night with no cell by myself. 

Maybe not the best choice.

I kept going all the way to Nashville. I didn't get off the road until 11:00 that night.  My body kept moving long after my car stopped.

The next day I got up and was determined to finish the trip. I had to. I had had enough. It was an 8 day trip that should have taken me no more than 4 or 5 days at the most. 

I didn't know how it was going to be driving those many hours, but apparently my stay in Coleman gave me lots of reserve energy.

A trip for the history books.

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