Our trip up to Oregon was mostly uneventful. I'd taken some Hydrocodone for my spazzed-out back (see post-Xmas rant) the night before, forgetting that codeine-derivatives keep me awake (several other family members too, apparently). So after a sleepless night, we started our journey North with me smacking myself in the face over and over to stay awake while my husband went through the initial 1-2 hour sleep-coma that begins all road trips.
The visit itself was great, although my older sister was chagrined to find that my parents duplicated her gifts to my kids exactly. She couldn't figure out why-- I hadn't mentioned those particular ideas to my parents. She said, "I told them not to get X, because I was giving the kids that." Bingo. my parents are 79 and 80, and she hasn't learned to change her communication style with them yet. It is no longer safe to communicate in "negatives" with them. Anything like "Don't do X" becomes "Do X. Really do X." And the more you repeat it, the more the "don't" gets lost. Just like, "We are not going to the beach on Wednesday" becomes only "Beach! Wednesday!". Anyway....
I prepped for the return visit by buying snow chains for the 4-Runner (we discovered in last year's travel disaster, an aborted trip to Oregon, that the chains my husband bought will not stay on the tires).
All systems were go for Friday, we thought. The rain was AWFUL, though-- so thick and heavy that I-5 had standing water and hydroplaning conditions, and heavy winds. White-knuckle driving for 2 and 1/2 hours, then stop for lunch. Then we set off again, and soon after there is a sign that the Siskiyou Summit is closed. Gack! That's how we get back home. Called my Dad for him to find out why (like, temporary closure? Please?) as we headed back 45 minutes to Grants Pass to go over to the coast. That is never a great alternative-- it adds a minimum of 4 hours to an already 8-hour trip. BUT, there are rarely snow problems on that route.
Dad can only find a web-cam, and it looks like a snow slide is covering the entire freeway at the Summit. OK-- that's not getting cleared anytime soon. Off to the coast. Through lots of flooded spots on Highway 199-- damn, the water just won't quit. Thank god we picked the 4-Runner for its high clearance. Of course, we were thinking small boulders and rough road at the time-- not flooding.
Slow going over to the coast. Lots of waterfalls everywhere, which was rather pretty. The Smith River was so muddy and full it was hopping. Drive on down the coast-- very stormy but pretty, and the kids were very pleased. Unexpected sign before Eureka that says Highway 101 is closed about 70 miles south due to mudslide-- no detours. But! But! That's our route home! We have to go further south than that on 101.
Pulled over, muttered a lot, called AAA and Highway patrol. Highway 299 would work, and it has no snow. BUT, it is also closed right before Redding due to another mudslide. Crap! We have to get back to I-5 to get home. So we check on Highway 36. It is gray on the map, which is never good. Yes, it is open. We cross fingers, get "dinner" at a gas-station miniMart, and head off.
Mmmm. More flooding. A passenger car in front of us goes through a giant puddle that it should not have, and immediately stalls out on the other side. Their friends in the pickup ahead stop, so we go on. Dark, winding roads, fog, more floods, and the rain is so fat it looks like snow. We spent about 3 1/2 hours on that horrific little highway, wondering the entire time whether we would make it back to I-5 without a disaster. We unexpectedly hit another major puddle, and the water flies clear up to the windows. "Do it again, Daddy!" my daughter says, as the two grown ups are fighting off an impending heart-attack.
Finally, back to I-5. And more of the same damned storm we left up in Oregon. The truck is in 4-wheel drive again for the wind and hydroplaning, and I discover that I can't pass any big-rigs because they throw up so much water that I can't see the road ahead to pass them.
3 more hours of that, and we finally get OFF the freeway and breathe big sighs of relief. Good lord.
At this point, it is 14 1/2 hours after we left Eugene, and 12:30 at night. *Groan*
My brother left the day before, also heading back to California, and had a completely uneventful trip. My husband says next year, we leave when Mike leaves-- he's got the magic voodoo for avoiding the road disasters. Last year, Mike made it up north and back, while we got stranded on I-5 near Redding and finally had to turn back.