Leaving Florida was another thing. After the drive in, and the D.C. run, I was fairly worn out. So took a day or two to get recharged. One of which was spent helping move some of Florida Friend’s boxes into storage. Doh!
I was watching the weather, and it just didn’t want to give me a break. One big storm went through, but a bit “high”, mostly whacking the I-40 route, but still a lot of wet on I-10 and many rivers showing as high. Then right behind it, another big storm was predicted to dump snow all over the central States (and it did) with rain along my route.
I left expecting to spend a night in Louisiana under rain. Because of that, I figured I could leave a bit late since I’d hit a night stop anyway. So I didn’t head out until after 2 P.M. That was likely not ideal.
Nothing much happened all the way to Louisiana. Which surprised me. I’d expected a rain band of a couple of hours and me in a rest stop. OK, let’s press on to the rain, then park… Well, that ended up with me in somewhere just outside of San Antonio. I took a very short nap in the parking lot of a small Subway Sandwich shop. For unknown reasons, at about 10 minutes in, I sat up. There, in front of me, was a local police car trying to figure out what I was up to. As he was in a different parking lot, he had to cruise around to the end to enter this one. As he arrived, I was out of my car to approach him (being very open and visible.) His window down, he said fairly loudly “You either need to put a mask on or stay 6 feet back!”. So I stepped back one step to about 9 feet… and asked “Any idea what the snow is like past San Antonio?”. Which I really wanted to know, but was also a good opener. He was clearly unaware of anything outside of Podunk Texas, and said so. Asked were I was coming from, I answered “Florida”. Where am I going? California. He moved on. As did I.
Being rather awake, I drove on to San Antonio. From just before Podunk to San Antonio had been sporadic rains of medium intensity. In one place, I’d made the lucky decision to get onto the “Frontage Road” that runs parallel to every freeway in Texas. Their idea of an ‘on ramp’ is about 40 feet of angled tarmac from the frontage road into the freeway and a firm foot on the gas pedal. Similarly, exit is via a rapid shot down a similar scrap of asphalt with a heavy foot on the brake. IF you are lucky, there’s a ‘Yield’ sign for folks on the frontage road… 90 to 40 MPH in less than 50 feet… or so it seems.
I got on it due to the freeway having some deep wet patches and this particular car (190E) liking to hydroplane at over 70 MPH while the speed limit was 80 MPH and Texans are fond of 90+ regardless… So figured I take a short stretch at 60 MPH or so. About 2 miles down, the freeway came to an abrupt halt for about another 10 miles? maybe more. Seems someone discovered cars make bad boats at speed.
So a long ways down, I did the “Dart to the Left, press the pedal down ti-eye-eye-iii-iiight to the floor” and was back on the freeway. But with almost no traffic, I could do whatever speed I liked.
Approaching San Antonio, another Buc’ees (Mascot is a beaver face) had a nice fillup and another pulled pork sandwich. It was COLD. But I decided a nap in the far end of their parking area would be OK. I woke up a few unknown hours later to bits of ice about the size of large salt in drips of water landing on the windshield. Hmmm… Don’t know what to call it. Melting snow? Now this was further south and lower elevation than I’d expected. Decided going further north and more up slope back to the ice sheet land was not a good idea. So I crossed San Antonio on the combined I-10 / Hwy 90 and just held to 90 on the other side (where I-10 cuts north west and up slope). In the middle of this, the slush snow turned to large floating flakes for about 20 miles… I had chains in the car, just in case, but was not fond of the idea of fitting chains in a stiff cold wind on the freeway. But the snow was not building up on the road. Only a very thin layer was surviving.
The Very Good News is that leaving San Antonio on Hwy 90, about 5 miles out of town, it started drying up and warming. By about 20 out, the road was clear and dry, and the sky was only slightly overcast. From that point to Del Rio, was a dream drive. Fun little stereotypical country western towns. One with a Bank building about 2000 square feet with BANK in raised bricks on the front. (Need to let the guys on horseback know where to rob… ;-) Just looked like a movie set.
By the time I got to Del Rio, it was dark. Driving from there on up Hwy 90 in the dark was sometimes a challenge. High speeds, mountain roads in places, poor reflector markings, bright headlights in the occasional oncoming traffic. Still, MUCH better than snow, ice sheets, and not moving.
Eventually there’s a turn back to I-10 at Fort Stockton. Just outside of there, I took another turn at sleeping off a rural off ramp middle of nowhere. Temperature was about 23 F. AFTER about a 14 mile “adventure” following the frontage road looking for a way back on going the right direction. Perhaps more on that if a mapping program can let me recreate the route / issue. Let’s just say that leaving the Fort Stockton Walmart is EASY going East, and a lot harder if you follow the first I-10 west sign. Better would be go East then make the first U turn (that I’d done on the inbound trip so know it works well…)
In any case, after a nice long nap, it was back to El Paso, another fill-up, another break in New Mexico, and then as the day began, crossing Arizona headed for the last run home.
I was looking at maps, and figuring times. This is the second place where leaving late bit me. I was NOT going to be off the road before the curfew time hit. I decided that saving a $1 or 2 on gas was less important than time, so stayed on I-10 into California, then took the California Hwy 95 up to I-40. It is straighter and less hilly. It is a very interesting drive. Lots of rolling dips and flash flood outfall paving on the sides of the dips. The mountains drain into the Colorado River to your right. Don’t do that road in the rain. For me, it was sunny and dry. Having done it, I’m not sure it is any faster than the Arizona side. There are a lot of little RV / mobile home / resort areas along the river and it looks like water sports are a big deal.
At I-40, I was getting more tired, and it was getting darker. I’ll skip the details, but by the time I reached I-5 I was seriously having wakefulness issues. It looked like about 2 AM earliest to get home. After fighting it for a while, I did about an hour stop and nap, then tanked up on 22 oz of Truck Stop Special Coffee for the final push. That did the trick and I was wide awake for the curvy winding hair raising Hwy 152 over the coastal mountains onto the Hwy 101 run into San Jose / Santa Clara.
What was interesting about the I-5 part, and all of the after 10 PM really, was that there were a LOT of big trucks, and a few cars. But I saw exactly ZERO police of any kind. Normally you see them working those chunks of road then. Also of note was that though there were much fewer cars, there were a significant number. Lots of folks are either exempt from the curfew, or just don’t care.
Taking my offramp to home, I had about 2 miles of major boulevard. We’re talking 3 lanes each way and lots of car dealers and such. Never is it empty. At 2:30 AM there was NOBODY AT ALL visible on it. Even into my neighborhood, not a car. Like something out of a Sci Fi Movie. THE LAST CAR ON EARTH!!!!
I saw zero moving cars from the freeway all the way home. Where I parked it, and immediately took a shower and went to bed. Unloading could wait for the next day…
After about 12 hours of solid sleeping, I did the unpack, sort put away, etc. stuff. Then the next couple of days slowly caught up on the total sleep inventory ;-) So now you know why I’ve been slow about posting, and servicing moderation queues and such. There’s also a couple of weeks of stacked up “Honey Doos” to work off ;-)