I was constantly tuning in to hear the weather and road conditions on the drive back from Utah – now that I had returned our heavy (and spacious… sigh…) rental and was bringing our small Hyundai back I was much more nervous about hitting bad weather. I’ve never driven I-80 during the winter and had always heard that it could get pretty bad. Up until Reno I was lucky enough to have decent road conditions as well as a very patient kiddo in the back seat.
We had made amazing timing and I was really excited to get back to the hubs and beautiful California so when I started seeing signs flashing everywhere warning that I could not continue on I-80 without chains I was feeling a little agitated… I mean, I know that I’m from Utah and all, so it may seem silly to hear this, but I didn’t have the slightest clue how to use, or what chains even looked like. So I got off the highway and made my way to an Autozone where I bought what [they claimed] I needed and I held up the line bombarding this poor guy with my questions and concerns. I didn’t know what to expect and had no clue when or how to put them on…
When I kept seeing the signs flashing to use chains and seeing the rain turn to heavy snow I decided that now would be the inevitable time to figure these contraptions out. So I got out [in my cardigan and flats] and slopped my way over to the back tires where I started laying out the chains like the instructions had told me to. Now if you have never done this before I tell you right now that even thought there are only 3 or 4 steps listed on the instructions it is no 1-2-3-4 deal (It’s the kind of thing you do with the help of another person driving the car)… And here is where I began to feel a little ashamed of myself. No, not for not knowing what to do, but because I started looking out to the road and actually expecting someone to stop and help me. I watched as men young and old pulled over in front and behind me and maneuvered their cars over the chains and then quickly pulled away. Again, I wasn’t ashamed that I even needed help – it was that I felt like I had stepped into this damsel in distress character from yesteryear where I expected some knight in shining armor (a man) to come to my rescue, and when no one did I felt angry at all men suddenly. My mind was going a million miles per minute thinking about how horrible men were these days, and wondering if my dad was the last of the good breed. I knew I was being silly too, and not without resentment to all men in the western hemisphere I sucked it up, let my tears blend into the snow that was melting down my face and I put the damn chains on myself.
This moment would usually call for a “roar” but 20 feet later the chains on one tire came loose so I wasn’t really feeling very strong and proud. This time I said ef it, and put it in the car and continued my drive. But hey, low and behold, another mile up the highway I saw a sign for $20 to have someone put them on for me. Funny how even though I was shelling out a ridiculous amount of money for what seemed to him to be a the simplest task in the world, I actually found myself feeling overwhelmingly grateful to him – like I really wanted to get out of my car and wrap my arms around his neck.
Truckee was where it was the worst, and I was actually pretty discouraged to finally reach this point, mostly because it meant that I was only at a half way point. It was so packed with people stopping off for fuel (since we were all driving at 5 mph up hill guzzling through our tanks) I really wanted to avoid the madness, but since it had taken me 3 hours already to get to this point I didn’t know what I was in for further up. So I drew sticks for the two gas stations Truckee has off the highway and hoped I had made the right choice. The drive would pick up (actually driving 35 mph) as we headed down the mountain. Yay!
Anyway, I got lucky and Jonah was the best little kiddo I could ever ask for. Luckily I had a sled in the backseat (yes I had a sled but I didn’t bother to bring any other winter gear, doesn’t make sense – it was just a fluke – I had forgotten to bring it in the house before we left) that I was able to lay over Jonah’s lap so he could play with his blocks without losing them… I honestly thought he was going to freak out on me at any moment (because that, of course, is what toddlers do when locked down for that long) but he never did.