I haven’t had much time to write lately. This is only the 2nd post in about 4 weeks.
I’m in the process of moving to California—temporarily—to preach the Gospel and to help a couple families learn to live it despite the temptations of living in modern America. (The ultimate temptation? "All my needs are met; who cares about anyone else?")
It got busy trying to make things were going to be okay while I was gone and getting myself ready to have an office on the road. (I’m very impressed with GoToMyPC.com, by the way—and that’s not an ad; I’m not an affiliate, and I get no commission if you sign up.)
But it’s not the light difficulties that come up in life that I thought might interest you.
It’s this …
Wandering Through Colorado
As we made our way across the US in an RV towing a van packed with stuff while our dear friends David and Ari drove our Suburban with a trailer attached, I kept remembering the words of a couple children, now grown into impressive young adults, saying, "Traveling with you was a lot of fun, papa Shammah."
So, in the spirit of fun and adventure for the kids we brought along, I—and my brave as well as beautiful wife—opted for a windy, mountainous, and hopefully scenic drive on I-70 over the Rockies, rather than a tamer and less scenic trip on I-80.
We woke up Monday morning to reports that a snow storm was rushing over our route. We almost changed our minds, but weather reports indicated the I-80 descent into Salt Lake City might be treacherous as well. So …
I rushed everyone, and we headed out the door hoping to get to the Vail pass before the snow did.
We didn’t get anywhere before the snow did. It hit us 20 miles into the trip, which was over a half hour into the trip because the RV couldn’t climb the hill any faster than 30 or 35 mph. (And I was still passing trucks doing that!)
Is This a Good Idea?
As the snow increased, we began wondering if this was a good idea.
We had two issues. One, David was slipping and sliding in our Suburban, and even had to pull over at one point because he couldn’t keep going …
That’s David standing next to the Suburban in the background of that picture.
Two, there was the issue of chain laws.
For those that haven’t heard of chain laws, it sounds pretty sinister. But what it means is that at certain times in the snow in the mountains, Colorado requires either snow tires or snow chains on all vehicles—beginning with commercial vehicles and moving on to everyone if conditions warrant it—and you can be ticketed for not complying.
We didn’t have chains or snow tires.
Worse, we were in the mountains. The towns are spread out in the Rockies, 20 and 30 miles apart or more, and as we were driving 15 MPH in the snow now, that meant the towns were spaced one or two hours apart.
Where we were going to get chains?
Tackling the Problem
A snowplow resolved our first problem. It came along a couple minutes after David had to pull over and cleared enough snow for David to press on.
By the way, his neophyte snow driving was astounding. He kept a cool head, never panicked, and never stomped on the brake or accelerator. Very, very impressive.
We also took a shot at helping our spirits by getting at least a little joy out of the snow …
The second problem scared us a bit. The conditions got worse and worse, and we were hearing on 511—the number to local state’s department of transportation—that there were road closures ahead of us.
I kept wondering, "So, if they pull us over for no chains, what will they do with us? Will they ask us to park on the side of the road and slowly freeze and starve to death until winter’s over in March, April, or May?"
We decided to press on to exit 205, which was Silverthorne, Colorado, and get chains there. We really weren’t certain the Suburban would make it that far, though the RV was handling just fine … at 15 MPH.
As it turned out, we simply drove for an hour and reached Silverthorne. The only incident, though that incident was heart-stopping to David, Ariel, and their 4 kids, was the Suburban and trailer beginning to jackknife on one of the downhills.
Hillbillies in the Rockies
It’s a crime that we took no pictures in Silverthorne, though our excuse that there were other things on our mind is valid.
The temperature in Silverthorne was 15, and the wind chill was 3.
The snow had just fallen, and so the roads weren’t cleared. Neither were the parking lots. Just as badly, snowplows were clearing the parking lots while we were in them, leaving huge mounds of snow that created an obstacle course for the RV.
We had to buy a first class set of chains for the Suburban, costing us about $40 extra, because the auto parts store was out of the normal kind. They did, however, have one very large set for the RV, so we were set.
The pictures I wish I had are pictures of me in tennis shoes, trekking through calf-deep snow, carrying heavy tire chains at 9,000 feet elevation and of the kids running into Target in sweaters and light jackets, then emerging in winter coats.
Chains on Tires?
Have you ever put snow chains on tires?
Yeah, neither have I.
Somehow, David and I managed to read the directions, melt snow onto our knees and hips and we knelt and lay in the Big Bass parking lot, freeze our fingers in wet cloth gloves or no gloves at all, and get the chains on.
The other picture I wish I had was a local who got out of his pickup truck in a t-shirt, stood there with a smile and without shivering, and warned us that we needed to secure the extra little length of chain that hung down after we tightened them on the tires.
If you don’t know what I mean by that extra, little length of chain, then enjoy your ignorance and pray that you never have to find out.
We couldn’t get it quite secured on the Suburban. We pulled over once on the freeway, then exited at 203, just 2 miles from Silverthorne, to buy clips at some grocery store.
Of course, by the time we left that exit, it was something like 2 pm. We had left at 8 in the morning. We had traveled around 70 miles in 6 hours.
Not fast going.
Was It Worth It?
When we got past Vail, Colorado, we were able to take off the chains. The sun came out, and we were treated to some of the best scenery in the world … mile after mile, turn after turn, all afternoon.
It was worth it.
Admittedly, pictures don’t come close to doing the job, and they’re all the less sufficient when sized down for a blog.
You can look at some better ones on my Picasa Web Album, but even those are only a small glimpse. I’ll try to keep expanding those albums over the next couple days, though we’re still getting set up in California at the moment.
Here’s some blog-sized ones, though …