By Tim Hunt
So much for being preparedUploaded: Sep 26, 2017
I relearned lessons that I should have remembered over the last couple of weeks—simply, be prepared.
We headed out for our first September vacation in decades (since the birth of our daughter 29 years ago). Septembers do not work when you are married to a teacher.
I checked the weather for Bend, Oregon and Truckee and decided that I would need only shorts and polo shirts for late summer golf. Wrong. It worked in Bend where we played four great golf courses and shorts worked just fine, although it was a bit chilly one that day that required an additional layer on top.
It was a different story once we made the eight-hour trek to Truckee and Olympic Village at Squaw Valley. Monday afternoon was windy with the temperatures dropping. Our Tuesday afternoon round was pleasant, although I wore the only pair of long pants I took on the trip as well as two shirts (the only long-sleeved shirt I brought from home).
On Tuesday, the weather forecast for the week that temperatures in the 70s on Thursday after they were expected to drop on Wednesday. Checking the forecast Wednesday morning, we decided to pass on golf that day—the thought of teeing off in the mid-40s at 10 a.m. was not inviting. Based upon the Tuesday forecast, I had reached out to set up a Thursday round.
Good luck. We woke up to snow flurries that continued throughout the morning and into Thursday. Pulling on a new pair of warm-up pants I had purchased as well as a new rain jacket, we decided to head for home. What should have been the shortest day of travel (we went straight from Pleasanton to Redmond, Oregon (nearly eight hours) turned out to be anything but that.
Surprise. We learned that CalTrans does lay asphalt in snow storms—that was a 30-plus minute delay on Highway 89 trying to get to Truckee and Interstate 80. It was easy going over Donner Summit, until the freeway came to a complete halt just below Cisco Grove. We were about a half-mile behind the nasty 16-vehicle pile-up that left one person dead.
We learned enforced patience over the next 3 ½ hours as the first-responders dealt with people and the vehicles. I cannot remember another time in 50-plus years of driving that I was strolling around an interstate—those corners really are banked.
The CHP and CalTrans managed to get the road back open much sooner than we had been told and once we got by the accident, it was clear sailing home. By contrast, trucks and motorists behind us had been taken off I-80 and then sent back to Truckee. No telling how ugly that traffic jam was trying to get back—the road was closed for about four hours.
Talking to people who were in the Bay Area, I learned that there was an ugly crash on I-580 that closed the road for the better part of eight hours and completed snarled traffic everywhere in the East Bay. By contrast, we were fortunate.