Monday, March 14, 2022

Six Days on the Road


When we sold our Florida condo, we had to decide what to do with all the stuff we had collected there....biggest of which was an RV - second largest - a Honda Goldwing motorcycle.  Of course, we couldn't leave either behind, so we bought a cargo trailer for the bike, and Ron attached it to our van, and left me driving the RV.  Of course, this shouldn't be a big problem HOWEVER, for the past 20 plus years, Ron has done nearly all of the driving, and I was totally unfamiliar with the RV.  But we saddled up and headed out on our trek across the country - Central Florida to Northwestern Washington.

By the end of the first day, we had gone about 500 miles and gotten to Pensacola, FL, and I was dead dog tired, but getting pretty familiar with the RV.  At the beginning, I was careful to always select the gas island at the edge of the plaza, where I had lots of room to maneuver. By the time we got home 3,999.5 miles later, I could get to any available diesel pump (no scars or scratches in all those miles, color me amazed).

A little unscheduled stop!  As we were driving in the middle of Texas, we were in the middle of another construction zone, where both shoulders of the road were blocked.  Traveling in our normal right hand lane, I looked behind to see a truck with flashing blue lights approaching quickly.  We were already in the right hand lane, but now shared it with all the huge trucks and other vehicles and were jammed in like sardines.  We all moved as far to the right as the closed shoulder would allow, and the truck approached and passed spraying road sealant!  We were instantly covered head to toe with opaque material that quickly dried. Fortunately, both of us had full windshield washing fluid, and were able to more or less clear the windshield where we could at least see where we were.  We had just fueled up, but we still pulled off at the first exit to see if we could do a better job of clearing our windows.  We joined multiple other cars at the nearest gas station, where we found all the window washing bins dry.  The manager of the store brought water, but it was hopeless, and the vehicles were completely coated.  He gave us directions to a car wash, where we spent about an hour scrubbing the road tar off both vehicles. (Some swearing was involved)

I spent the next 100 miles or so mentally composing a letter to the Texas highway department. We noticed for the next several hundred miles the road was white where the sealant had been sprayed on all lanes.  It is a miracle they haven't killed anyone with the sudden loss of visibility in heavy traffic where the slowest speed was about 65 miles an hour (us).

We developed a pattern that played hell with our circadian rhythms - where we stopped at a highway rest area around 5 p.m., slept until about midnight, and then headed out on the road.  At the midnight hour, it was just us and a few trucks.  I left my windows open to stay alert, and it got easier when it got light around 6 a.m.  That got us through Mobile, Dallas, Fort Worth, and El Paso in the early morning hours where we could maintain highway speed and avoid traffic all the way through. 

Things were going fine until we got to Los Angeles around 4 a.m. and were breezing along on I-10 looking for our GPS directed turn onto 57 to get to 210.  We started noticing signs that said "All lanes closed ahead" but didn't think that could possibly be the 8 lane highway without some detour.  Wrong! Suddenly, we came to the 15 mile closure and ended up on a minor offramp into a residential neighborhood.  Our idiot GPS (both vehicles) kept directing us back onto I-10, but we kept heading north and west, and eventually found an entry onto I-210. Another unscheduled delay of about 2 hours. I think highway engineering departments may not be getting the brainiest people.

When we got to Redding, CA, it was only 4 p.m. since we had gained another hour when we entered California.  It was 74 degrees with clear skies, so we thought we should push on and get through the highest passes of the Siskiyous while we had a decent weather day.  We arrived at Rogue River with no road problems and not a speck of snow, but bone tired.  The only saving grace was we were only 350 miles from home, and knew this trip could end the next day. Even having to give back the last hour we gained to Daylight Saving Time, we were home in the light of day.

To other road warriors out there, this is probably not that interesting, but to all the armchair travelers, it might show what life on the road is like.  For me, I think 78 years old is old enough to give up on ever becoming a truck driver.  I was once again shown what you can do if you decide to, no matter what your age.  I'm content now to go back to reading and letting Ron do all the driving. And, if I never see LA or Tacoma again, it will be too soon.