Thanksgiving in Klamath Falls Part I: The Journey Down

We spent Thanksgiving in Klamath Falls visiting Meaghan’s family.  My journey began on Wednesday November 22nd (I know…a timely post this is!) at around 12:15pm.  Leaving work early to beat the Thanksgiving traffic (ha!) I began the trip down I5 towards Eugene to meet Meaghan after work.  Thinking we’d be able to hit the road across the pass and be on our way to Southern Oregon by early afternoon, the impending bad weather scheduled for that evening was of little concern.  After sitting in traffic on I5 pretty much all the way down to Salem, I was an hour and a half into my journey with barely forty miles done of the hundred and ten needed just to get to Eugene.  At around 2:00pm, I called Meaghan to let her know I might be running a tad late as, even though the traffic had thinned, I was only just passing Albany.  Fortunately, a few minutes later, an idiot from the hard shoulder decided to add some excitement to my day by pulling straight into the right-hand lane and then straight in front of me in the faster of the two lanes while I was doing 65mph.  I managed to slow to just above the 20mph he was doing when I bumped the back of his car!.  I had slammed on the brakes so urgently that my ABS kicked in and I ended up chugging along in 5th at 20mph with four diagnostic lights on the dashboard.  I carefully edged off to the hard shoulder, slowed to a stop and took a moment to breathe.  The manual indicated that I should turn off the engine, get out and check everything was OK (it was – a slight ding in the license plate) and then turn the car back on.  Sure enough, the diagnostic lights flared for a second and were gone.  Fucking stupid idiot asshole goddamn piece of shit other drivers!.  Hulk mad!.  OK, I’m done.  That’s pretty much how it sounded at the time too.

I finally pulled into Eugene at around 3:30.  After a short stop at Meaghan’s apartment to collect the last few things we needed, we were on the road again and headed towards the pass on route 58.  From about the point we left Eugene the weather was just ugly.  It was raining and the wind seemed to want to shift every time we turned such that it always pointed directly into the windshield.  Horizontal rain on already waterlogged roads with trucks flying by at twenty over the speed-limit because they want to get home for Thanksgiving and are too tired to pay attention- AWESOME!  We were making fairly reasonable progress and started the climb up towards the ski resort in that area at around 4:30pm.  Just in time, it began to snow!.  Yay, snow!.  *head sags*.  Fortunately, earlier that day Travis had written to me:
[quoted text]:
“If you don’t have tire chains or studs on your car, stop at the store and get some locally before you head down.  You can’t get through to K-Falls without them (they’re stopping people on the road and turning them around).  Saw it on the news this morning.  The snow/ice is ridiculous.  Drive safe, and if you have any doubts or if the snow is coming down too hard, please just turn around.  I’d hate to see you on the news having to be pulled out of your car by the Jaws of Life or some crap.”

A uniquely worded sentiment as always, but very appreciated because I had actually stopped to buy chains on my way down to Eugene after hearing from him about the weather report.  Thanks Travis!  We were little more than 2,000ft up when suddenly my tachometer informed me that stocks in grip (SYM: GRIP) were plummeting and a portfolio change would be advisable.  My tires followed the market trend shortly thereafter and started selling shares in grip at an alarming rate.  Not wanting to get caught as the last remaining shareholder, I pulled off to the side of the road to apply the newly purchased chains.  Riiiiggghhhtt!  The instructions seemed simple enough.  The illustrated example showed Grandma lifting the car with one hand whilst deftly applying the chains with the other.  I stood there with several pieces of interesting if oversized tire jewelry in my hand with a look in my eyes like a cow staring down an oncoming train.  I’ve never put chains on a car before, it was dark, the cold I’d been cultivating for two days was in full force now, and I was starting to feel a little out of my comfort zone.  Meaghan was an absolute lifesaver.  She grabbed the masses of twisted metal from my hands and with a quick glance at the instructions began weaving them around the front wheels like a pro.  I was able to lend a helping hand with the pulling and grunting parts towards the end of the process where various snaps needed to be pulled tight, but I couldn’t thank her enough for knowing what the hell she was doing.  Ten minutes later and a lot colder, we were on our way again at the world-ending speed of 25mph.  It was now 5:45pm, we had over a hundred miles to go and we were barrelling along at a thundering 25mph.  We should be there by morning!  With chains on the tires, it was much easier to hold the road though and we actually started to make quite a bit of progress.  Once over the top of the pass the snow seemed quite a bit lighter and the rest of the trip would be either downhill or mostly level.  We once again pulled off to the side of the road, this time to remove the chains and stuff them back into the Les Schwab bag.  Fingers now quite cold!

By 6:30pm we joined route 97 and although the weather was giving little to no respite, it was nice to know that we were on the last leg of the journey.  With a brief stop in Chemult (yes, we were in the middle of nowhere) for a toilet break and a chance to scrape ice from the windshield and stretch the legs, we were ready for the last hour of driving.  It was 7:15pm (about seven hours after I’d originally left Portland) and as we were pulling out of the gas station we watched the town’s tow truck pull out and head off down the road in the direction we had just come from.  I can only imagine it was quite the busy night for them.

Meaghan had called her folks from Chemult to let them know where we were and inform them of our new estimated arrival time.  Her dad let us know that the weather in Klamath Falls was pretty light with no snow, just a little light rain.  Hah!.  As we passed the “Welcome to Klamath Falls” sign at the city limits, we were greeted by a half inch of settled snow and ice with a fairly heavy rate of snowfall and freezing rain.  With wipers going full blast and the front and rear heaters on maximum, we ground our way through the last few roads and pulled into the driveway of Meaghan’s parent’s house.  Phew.  All in all, it wasn’t an unenjoyable journey, it was just longer and more full of excitement that I’m used to.  It was nice to have the company with me on the drive…and the way those chains went on was extracurriculariffic!.  I’ll post more about Thanksgiving as well as some photos soon.

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