Good Morning Everybody,
That's how I planned to begin today's post. That was pretty true to our experience, but after yesterday's 15 hour drive to San Diego, I think I'd rather begin, "Yesterday's first 6 hours of driving were easily the most grueling of the trip so far." The next 9 hours were pretty darn interesting too. Why, to much adventure ;~)
Monster Winds Hit Us
Remember back to our first day when I mentioned that the noise level In the Jeep's cab raises considerable as it speeds up to 75mph. We were only going 70mph but add 30 mph headwinds and it is like a screaming eagle was loose in the cab! We could barely hear the radio or even talk to each other.
It was like that for over three hours - where were my Bose noise canceling headphones when I need them ;~)
Snow Showers, NOT! BLIZZARD!!!
The strong winds continued as we climbed the mountains heading for the Continental Divide at about 6,000 feet above sea level. But now we had the beginnings of our next challenge - it started snowing, yes snowing!!!. We thought snow showers at first, but is was soon a full blown storm!
After we crossed the Continental Divide, we began descending the mountain, and thankfully the snow began to let up - whew, or so we thought.
As we got closer to Flagstaff, the snow kicked into the Blizzard category - snow was everywhere. It had just began, but it began with a ferociousness a big winter storm brings. The temperature dropped to 24 degrees and the snow was beginning to stick and stick hard.
Within minutes the highway was covered with a sheet of ice. Right before us two cars had just lost control and were in the ditch. Fortunately, no one seemed injured. Police were everywhere, the snow plows had hit the road, and traffic slowed to a crawl.
The we hear it, DING!! the low fuel light clicked on - we would be out of fuel in about 20 minutes. A quick check on the iPhone Around Me app showed a station just ahead. But in the snow storm, we missed the exit! Nothing else was popping up close by - we crossed our fingers.
About 5 miles down the road the snow cleared, temperatures warmed considerably, and a gas station popped up on our iPhone.
It’s Going To Be A Long Night
We were relieved to get the Jeep refilled, grab some refreshments, and just catch our breath a bit. I did a quick recheck of our mileage to San Diego. What!!! 477 miles, 7 3/4 hours away!!! It was going to be a long night.
Apparently, in my quick check the night before, the 630 miles was referring to air miles, not driving miles - whoops! I had just taken us 6 1/2 hours to cover what we thought we would cover in less than 5 hours and now we had almost 8 hours to go - bummer. This was going to be the longest drive day of the trip.
But men do what men have to do - we pushed on to San Diego.
Seeing The Face Of God
After catching our breath, we were underway again. As we headed to Phoenix, coming down out of the mountains, we could see the storm clearing in the distance. This timing coincided with the sun being quite low in the sky heading toward sunset.
With the combination of clearing storm and sunset, the next 30 minutes were simply amazing. The colors, textures, layers of tonalities - they were all around us. Each time the wind shifted, a brand new visual masterpiece presented itself to us as we drove out of the mountains.
The views were like seeing the face of God - utterly amazingly beautiful, breathtaking, awe inspiring!!! Fortunately Kent was driving so I was shooting like a crazy person trying to capture as much of the beauty as I could.
The Final 300 miles to San Diego - Dicey, Yes, Dicey
We made it though the 3 snow storms and finally to Phoenix, filled the Jeep for the millionth time and headed for San Diego. We had about 280 miles to get to our final destination - just about the distance we could travel on a tank of gas, or so we thought.
We grabbed some road food since our travels were not going to get us to our destination in time for dinner. It was going to be a long night. I was at the wheel and we headed into the night.
Everything else is going well, we were both wide awake, the drive was going smoothly, and we only had about 60 miles to go. Then we heard it DING!!! again - we were low on gas and in the middle of the mountains with no gas for quite a while.
On the way down the other side of the mountains, I spotted a casino advertising gas but Kent said to push on - uhmmmm, middle of nowhere and we are passing the only gas station we had seen for miles. Down the road a few more and a sign signaled gas only 1 mile away - great news!!! We made the exit, followed the signs and finally found ourselves in a tiny town with all the sidewalks rolled up for the night, including the corner gas station.
We caught the OPEN sign in a small motel nearby and headed there for help. After several shouts, and banging on the bell about a hundred times, a loud shriek rose from the back room - we had woken up an embarrassed innkeeper who kindly greeted us.
We explained our dilemma to Maria, the night clerk - we had driven 20 miles since the low fuel light DINGED. She gave us three gas station choices. We chose the one 14 miles away!! What, we were dead for sure - we were going to be stranded somewhere along I-8 and were never to make it to San Diego!!!
Kent was driving, I was watching the odometer as the miles rolled by - 5 miles, then 10, then 13 miles. Then there it was the exit for gas 1 mile away! Had we made it??? The Jeep was still running without any coughing or choking, we might make it. A few minutes later, we rolled into the Shell station, celebrated our good (lucky) fortune and let the Jeep lap up the high octane fuel.
The rest of the trip was easy, we arrived at our guests home around midnight – 15 hours after we had left Albuquerque. They who greeted us warmly, and after a short visit, showed us our accommodations. Kent and I opened a bottle of red colored adult beverage, toasted to the day, set the alarm for 6 a.m. - five hours later and we hit the sack.
Queuing Up For The Baja Run
Here is the problem. The drive through the Baja is 20 hours long. We want to make the trip in two days, which means 10 hours driving each day. You're thinking, "No big deal, right?" Well, it is kind of a medium sized deal.
Here's why - We are 11 months into 2010 and the are getting shorter and shorter, right. Pulling up my Sunrise, Sunset app shows that we only have about 11 hours of light in this part of the world at this time of the year.
We need to hit the road early today, about 7 a.m. and hope to make it to the half way point, San Ignacio, by 5:30 p.m. Still sounds like no big deal right. Well, we have a time change - in the WRONG direction - as we head to San Ignacio. We lose an hour, so it looks like we are going to cutting it pretty close. Well play it by ear today.
Hey gang, that's it for me today. With 5 hours of sleep and some quick morning grub, we are on our way. Wish us luck. If we have Internet connectivity where waver we stop this evening, I get another post up tomorrow. If we don't, look for a recap on Wednesday.
We're off to another 1000 miles of adventure --- hopefully ;~)