One of the worst drives I had ever taken was with my twin during a lake effect blizzard through New York State a few years back. He was driving and it was INSANE. It was so bad I was surprised they didn’t shut the road down and it came from out of nowhere. One minute it was fine, the next there was 3 inches of snow on the ground and people could barely maneuver their cars. It was very scary.
Tonight’s drive started like a beautiful sunny green springy California hills drive. It was fun. I rented an SUV that can really hug the road and has a lot of power despite it being good on gas. All’s well. 3 hour drive from Sonora, C.A. to South Lake Tahoe. Can’t be that hard.
I begin the drive strong. Going up hills like a champ, people moving, using the extended lane to get around others, pumping happily through 64 degree dewy spring weather. Classical on the radio, eventually turning to mild jazz. Cool. Around the half way mark of the trip I realize, I’m in a mountain range and it’s really easy to drive it. Each side is illuminated with double reflector sticks to keep you on road. There’s a bit of snow, not an animal in site. I get around a few slow drivers and it begins to feel REAL COMFORTABLE.
So comfortable, my eyes begin to tear. I know that feeling. I’ve been here before.
I take it in, it’s fine. I’m zipping through 25-40 mph curves. The road is HUGGING me. I checked out the GPS to see exactly where I was. 30 miles from the 89 on Rt.88. There was no town marker at that point. Around 20 miles out the feeling leaves and a sign of a few towns pops up. Which town is on there? SILVER LAKE.
To explain. I asked for my twin at a beach in Spring Lake, NJ. He came to visit with me a few times and each time he couldn’t get over the name. He kept calling it Silver Lake. We never could figure that out. I think I did tonight.
I see a giant double decker snow mover. Not a plow or anything normal sized. No, this guy was 40 feet in the air riding this machine. And I’m just like.. and let it go.
So I’m all excited and talking out this blog to myself and all’s happy and my eyes are teary and then a car is beaming me and it’s real bright and there’s these two red signs. I’m like..Hmm.. red, that’s probably important. Now as I’m leading up to this area, snow on the sides of the road is getting really thick and tall. Almost 6 feet. Whoa!
So, the car passes and within one second all happy feelings begin to dwindle very fast. The sign says as the road begins to close in,” AVALANCHE AREA: NO PARKING, NO STOPPING, NO PEDS”
Oh man. So my blog recital goes into a pip squeak and then to a halt. The snow that was at 6 feet grows immensely and very fast. Now it’s twelve feet. Now it’s twenty-five feet. Now it’s forty feet. I drive so delicately, it is small and tight and wet and there’s no one there to really be like a guide. Nope.
As I think all is well and cozy as the road opens up and snow doesnt look like it’s going to topple over onto me. But the road is still wet. And the temperature is now 37. And there’s a truck behind me coming up fast. And then, I go around a turn and hear whooshing. Like really loud whooshing. That can’t be wind, right? I shut off the radio.
That’s wind and this guy is all the way up my ass and I’m breaking, going 60 and the car begins to slam forward without my doing. It gets stuck in 3rd gear revving downwards as the wind is pushing me super fast. WTF is this shit? I’m at 8000 feet. I’m going over a CANYON.
The drive gets very messy from this point forward and I’m having an impossible time controlling the car. The guy is still lodged in my ass. I’m breaking and it’s doing nothing. The wind is howling and the car is swaying and the road is about 1 foot wide. I can’t see shit and the turns begin to get very windy.
But wait, it gets better cos then there’s another avalanche area. I am gripping the wheel very tight in windy silence trying to keep the car in control while jettisoning through this conduit of absolute natural torture. I go around a bend and understand where it would be coming from. I am sandwiched up again a two hundred foot tall mountain of snow, on the edge of a canyon with 65 mph winds. It’s on the left this time, not the right. The one thing that comes into my head,”Now I understand Santa Ana winds.”
I went up the mountian for an hour and a half and now I’m going back down it. Yay. Yay for an hour straight. 50-60 mph winds for about that long. I see a calm left turn. The turn onto Rt. 89. It’s in 3 miles. And then two and then one and where is it? I am in the middle of darkness with wind howling and I can’t see anything. I stop the car in the middle of the road where the gps tells me to and open the door. “That’s it?!” I look up the sky and it is grey with stars. I am in the middle of nowhere and have to go down the dark scary road.
And I do.
The winds begin to calm. In 15 miles I am in Tahoe. There’s a giant (LED lit) (I forgave them quickly) Christmas tree. My phone begins accepting notifications again. Another blog has added me on Tumblr. I see a Starbucks. The terror has ended.