omg….. What an adventure!
We left the Bay Area of California for the second leg of our business/pleasure road trip.
Heavy weather was expected so we threw together a game plan and figured that we would alter the highways on an as needed basis. The Bay Area was getting torrential rain and the Sierras were expecting their fair share of snow, so we decided to get a jump on things and head out a bit early.
I can confirm that I’m having trust issues with my navigation! I am not a fan of the hopeless feeling of being lost. I don’t find it adventurous or “part of the fun.” I have flashes of those mock-horror stories on National Geographic or that I’m about to take a page out of a Bear Grylls survival story.
I suppose it’s not great to jump to worst case scenarios, but when you feel a bit out of your element, it can be a bit of a head game.
I do my best to plan for these kinds of trips, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow. Road closures and questionable weather can be unpredictable. A Google search quoted a 358 miles drive and estimated that it would take 7 1/2 hours. You have no idea… Who were we kidding? Really it was a never-ending 10 hour trip through the craziest terrain. Through all of our twist and turns we came across marsh lands, bridges, cherry blossom fields, countryside, shady neighborhoods (thanks navigation!), snow-covered winter wonderlands, and a secluded dessert. What didn’t we see?!
How many of you faithfully plug-in your coordinates and get that gut wrenching feeling hours and miles into your journey when the damn thing says, “Recalculating?” Really?! My heart just about stops right there. Don’t even tell me I’m lost! It’s always when you’re low on gas, it’s getting dark, there’s heavy weather…..and then it decides to recalculate. That’s when you have arguments with an inanimate object.
I do have to say though that we came across some pretty stunning areas. I’m always amazed at the variety of picturesque scenery California has to offer. I’d have to say my favorite were the blooming Cherry Blossom Orchards we came across along highway 12. It was so unexpected.
I did my best to take my own travel advice, which is not to worry about something that hasn’t happened. There’s something to be said about preparing for your trip and eventualities, but why sit with a knot in your stomach planning every possible worst case scenario. Between getting turned around, missing freeways, and feeling unprepared for all the snow we encountered, it got a bit hairy there for a moment.
At one transition point, we were gaining altitude and the highway we were on started to collect snow. Beautiful massive snow flakes started to delicately drift down and I felt as if I were in a snow globe. It was magical for a while, but then our wiper blades kept icing over, we couldn’t really get enough traction, the snow plows couldn’t quite keep up, and it started to become white-out conditions.
At another transition point, we were redirected due to road closures and had to take a rural road to ultimately hop onto the freeway we needed. At this point we’re now in some corner of Nevada (that big of a detour!), there’s no reception, its absolute baren desert, and the navigation leads us down a road at which point the asphalt ends and turns into dirt. Major knot in my stomach! I had no idea where we were.
Out of all of this, I’d say if you ever find yourself turned around on a road trip, make sure you have plenty of gas and a good sence of humor. Also, don’t solely rely on technology. It’s handy, but you should also have a paper map – one general overview and one with street overviews. What if for some reason your gadgets can’t get a charge or the weather is so heavy that it can’t get a signal? Good old-fashioned paper maps are a great backup plan.
Also, do a little legwork and check out road conditions:
- Check out Cal Trans interactive real-time website: http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/
- Call for automated updates: 511 or (800)427-7623