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Monday, March 10, 2014

The Road Most Traveled

Weekend Get Away
In the first couple of years of our marriage, my wife and I enjoyed going to Reno Nevada a couple of times a year.  It wasn’t for the gambling because we have never been into the game of chance, but more for the live entertainment and some nickel and penny slots.  We enjoyed the road trip and we always spent one night halfway through the trip to relax and simply chill.  Chill is not a word I normally use but it describes perfectly the reason for the pit stop.
We had so much time together to talk and listen to our favorite music along the way.  As an example of our memories in 1978 during one of our fun trips to Reno we started listening to a very new and fun song “Copacabana.”  It was festive and not the kind of song that you would grow tired of from repetition.  We decided to scan other radio stations and found that almost every station on the air was playing the song over and over by request.  Unlike much later popular songs like Macarena which you can grow tired of fairly quick, Copacabana was not in that category.
Most usually our trips were planned for spring and fall to avoid the cold and snow as well as the summer heat.  Our typical trip from the Pacific Northwest was to travel south to Sacramento on I-5 and then east to Reno on Interstate 80.  I realize it was a little longer way around but the area and freeway was a treat to experience.  We always made it a habit to stay at a Holiday Inn in Sacramento.  We were young enough that the long drive didn’t take a toll on our lean and mean bodies (no joke we were in great shape).  Today we prefer to fly everywhere we travel, and rent a car once at our destination.
Well the title of “The Road Most Traveled,” is about the one time late in the fall that we decided to be adventurous.  As we were driving South on I-5 in Northern California we saw small sign that read Reno x number of miles this way.  My thought was that the weather was a perfect fall day about 80 degrees, the highway if you could call it that was a two lane road, and it seems that it would save us at least a half day by taking the shortcut.  Once again, my thought process was that by saving a half day of travel we could drive direct and skip the hotel stay in Sacramento.
We are very fortunate that our experience was as minimal as it turned out to be.  I was almost immediately surprised so see how quickly the road started climbing ever higher in mountainous altitude.  Next thing you know the skies darkened and temperature began to drop.  Within a couple of hours the temperature dropped to the 30s, and then it began to snow.  I had a gut feeling that if we just kept pushing forward we would leave the cold weather and snow behind us.  Before too long I could no longer see the roadway except for the plastic or fiberglass markers on the shoulders of the road that indicated where the roadway was.  We had not passed a car in either direction for over two hours and I began to worry.
Before long I noticed steam coming out from under the hood, so I stopped on my tracks, since there was no traffic, and I was afraid to pull off the road.  As I tried to check under the hood, I discovered that I couldn’t even open my door because of about two and a half feet of snow.  I backed up the car so I could have some space in front of the car.  The problem turned out to be simple, without knowing it I was using my car like a snow plow because the snow was up to my headlights.  The snow compacted into the engine compartment keeping my cooling fan from working.  I used a tire iron to remove the ice around the fan, and let the engine cool for about an hour, before restarting the engine for badly needed heat.  For safety I kept clearing my taillights, exhaust area and headlights so we could be seen. 
Within about two hours a County snowplow came along and he stopped to see if our car was in working order, and he instructed me to follow close behind him.  The bottom line is that we survived, unscathed mostly because of our innocence and faith that all would work out, we didn’t panic, and enjoyed our mini vacation.  I hate to think of how many things could have gone wrong.  Lesson learned, and from that experience forward we’ve always stayed on “The Road Most Traveled.”  The best is yet to come…..


  1. Glad it all worked out. I've been to Reno several times by way of St. Louis, Mo. First, my mom and I went by train (what an experience!) And then by plane. Train was definitely better! My husband and I also have made that trip together. Really love Reno, Virginia City, Lake Tahoe. Great memories!

    1. Thank you for your comments! I once thought of buying property in Reno, but my wife talked me out of it. She said. a getaway stops being a getaway if you have business ties to it. Very special memories indeed.