The new snow tires earn their keep. I make a beeline for our accommodations, no state park stops. Even though I'm equipped for roadside emergency camping, I'm not keen on it!
We arrive at University Inn in Gooding, Idaho to find the innkeeper and four of her 12 children hand shoveling the driveway for me to pass. The family lives in one wing of the old 1920 dormitory. All the kids pitch in to run the place. My arrival is before normal check-in, I feel like Snow White amid the cyclone of munchkin activity.
I'm told the dogs and I can explore.
Lead on Kilroy!
No central heating means we lose one expedition member early.
The dining room.
Snooping in the pantry.
Our room, after my decorator is finished.
Tour's over. There's a Winter Wonderland beckoning to Cole and I (Pete and Garrett much less enthused).
"Must I? You know there's a 20 MPH wind, right?"
"C'mon Garrett, this'll be fun!!!"
Proof #47 that Cole is the canine mirror image of my soul: we're the only two enjoying this Arctic blast.
If Garrett had a middle finger, he'd be holding it up!
Pete bails and goes scratching at the inn door. Party's over. Or is it?
I still have 70 year old snowshoes to test.
I can see 12 sets of children's eyes peering at me through the windows. The innkeeper is Russian, she's probably reassuring her children: "she's not off her meds, she's just Canadian".
All that play makes for early bedtime and early rise. We have 650 miles to drive today to get to our Quonset hut rental in Colorado tonight.
Making breakfast for the crew before takeoff.
In effect, we do blast off. The minions, not up yet, haven't cleared the new foot of snow on the driveway. I clear myself a 50' launch pad behind the car, get back in the Binky Mobile...
...back up to the end of the pad and give 'er hell. The end of the driveway is 800' away, I barely make it before bogging down. That will be as fast as we go for the next four hours.
Either I'm the only one on the road with snow tires, or a lot of folks took an idiot pill before hitting the road this morning. The roads, even the interstate is covered in ice, what prompts someone to attempt the speed limit in these conditions?
I'm nestled between two semis, one ahead me from Canada, the one behind giving himself plenty of stopping distance. We safely plod along between 20-40 MPH. Some folks can't help but be in a rush to meet their Maker.
What part of ice, don't ya understand?
Everything is happening in slow motion because I'm going 30 MPH. I see this guy spin and lose his trailer. One knucklehead goes off into the ditch and lands upside down. The cherry on the icing though is the SUV that flies past us doing at least 60, loses control, plows into the snowy median, almost makes it out into oncoming traffic, then gooses it back across the median and gets his front tires up on the asphalt before, thankfully, getting stuck... because he would've T-boned us. I kept my pace, watching them out of one eye. The woman passenger is large and wearing a yellow top and during their return across the median, it looks like Big Bird, with screaming mouth open, grasping the dash, is coming right at me.
This prompts me to get off the interstate. Accidents have closed the interstate 11 miles up. Besides, it's almost noon Eastern time and I haven't made any progress at all. Thank goodness for all my 511 apps. The Canadian trucker ahead bails with me. My GPS guides me to US 93 towards Nevada to get around the worst of the accidents. I can make my way back up through Wyoming and still make my rental by late night.
We're still seeing a lot of accidents on the secondary roads.
Bad day all around for a lot of people. I lose count at 20 vehicles in the ditch.
Thank God for my Winter tires!
The traffic thins and I can relax more knowing if I skid, I won't be immediately schmooked by another car.
511 app chimes in another warning: Interstate blocked in Wyoming too.
Time for a family meeting: What is our Plan C?