Thursday, November 12, 2020

100 Miles of Terror... by Rory Andes

As we approached this Halloween, I'm reminded of a time I was horrified before I knew what I meant to be truly horrified. I wish these were the fears that I still had. Take the drive with me...

I was born and raised in Southern California and it's where I learned how to drive. On those sunny streets, there weren't a lot of slick roads or snowy days, so they were fairly safe. As I traveled through my military career, I eventually became stationed in Washington. While I was starting to become more accustomed to less desirable driving conditions, I still wasn't a fan. But I learned to drive in snow none the less. Then at one point, I was sent to Missouri for a leadership course and I decided to drive there. I had to show up in the middle of January, 2000. I figured I would just travel down Interstate 5 to Los Angeles and stop in at the hometown that launched me. Then I plotted a course through Texas all in an effort to dodge the Continental Divide. So off I went...

By the time I hit Portland, I realized I was already sick of driving. If I was going to save my sanity AND make it on time, I had to do a course correction. I headed east from Portland along I-84 on into Utah. Another bit of replotting and I was on I-70 on my way into Denver. How bad could the Rockies really be? Then, just as I climbed the mountains, it started snowing. I was in a front wheel drive car with no chains. Stupid...

By the time I got to Vail, the snow was building fast and plows were running up and down the mountain. What I thought I knew about driving in snow from Washington quickly turned into the reality that I knew nothing about real snow. Forward progress ground to feet at a time. The distance, at the pace I could make it, was going to take forever. Then the real horrors hit. The vision of a catastrophic accident went through my mind and I gripped my steering wheel with a death grip. My hands were aching, my knuckles were white and my breathing shallow and irregular. But I was making my very small gains.

Then, without warning, an 18-wheeled semi truck slide sideways across the Interstate right in front of me, a narrow miss! These men and women are seasoned, gifted drivers with years of experience and even they were in over their heads on some of those stretches. I felt doomed. I wouldn't even dare move from my lane. I was trapped in small progress, scared beyond belief. After several hours this way, I stopped climbing the mountain and there it was, a city that was a sight for sore eyes... The Mile High City. I took the dive into an offramp, looked for the closest hotel, and took a deep breath. It was over and I never deviated from a driving path unprepared again. As these things go, I look back to this trip and realize I want to do a few more, in time. Maybe not like this, maybe not even by car, but the travel across those mountains were amazing. I'll enjoy it next time and just plan my trips in the summer when I do...

by Rory Andes

When you're young, you're brave...

Email at using Rory Andes 367649

Or by Mail:
Rory Andes 367649
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA 98272

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