Saturday, May 3, 2008

Red Snowboarding Goggles

AKA The Cross-Country Trip of 2000.

Back in 2000 Mike and I were living in Rochester, New York. I had moved there for work and to be with Mike after graduating from college in Connecticut, and Mike had been attending RIT. We decided it was time to head home west.

Our one-year apartment lease was finally up, we shipped a lot of stuff home, then loaded my little 4-door Saturn sedan with as much stuff as we could. We even had 2 pairs of skis and a snowboard on the roof rack! We didn't want to drive with a U-haul. We had planned to leave on a Tuesday morning, however it was December, and a huge snow storm was blowing across the Midwest. If we left on Tuesday we would have driven right into it. We stayed put until the storm reached and passed Rochester on Thursday, so Thursday late afternoon we finally said goodbye and headed west.

The first evening we drove until we reached Springfield, Ohio. The roads weren't too bad, but we were grateful to have snow tires on the car anyway. We stayed in our first motel that night. In the car with us we had a little fish tank with a tiny frog inside, and each night we would have to bring Froggie into the motel with us to sleep so his water wouldn't freeze overnight. The second day we drove all day, occasionally stopping for food and bathroom breaks, saw the arch of St. Louis, and then made it to Springfield, Missouri (staying in "Springfield" two nights in a row was coincidence). We got a room in another motel, brought Froggie inside, and settled for another night. We were pretty tired so we didn't aim to wake up early. The next morning we woke up around 10am, turned on the TV, and gathered from the news that a second huge Midwest snow/ice storm was brewing and about to start blowing our way. EEEK!! We wasted no time grabbing our stuff, Froggie, and pointing the car west. I don't even think we bothered to get breakfast, just ate what we had in the car.

We continued to head south, to Oklahoma, (because we did not want to drive through the Rocky Mountain passes in December) where it started to snow. Oddly enough, it wasn't just snowing, but the snow was blowing horizontally across the road. Visibility on the road became very poor so traffic started slowing down to a crawl. Around that time we discovered that, for whatever reason, we had put Mike's red-tinted snowboarding goggles in the front passenger seat of the car. (For those of you who don't know, red-tinted goggles enable you to see MUCH more clearly in white-out conditions, as it cuts down on the glare.) Finding the goggles, I immediately put them on and discovered that I could see so much farther down the road (and consequently, drive faster). I kept moving into the left lane, passing cars that had drivers without the benefit of red-tinted snowboarding goggles, and continued west through the blowing snow. Drivers quickly figured out that I could somehow see better than they could, because it wasn't long before I had a whole line of cars following behind me, matching my speed. I was a mother duck with lots of mechanical ducklings on the road! That continued for an hour and a half, then suddenly we were in Texas, and the snow was gone. We'd made it! That night we slept in Amarillo, Texas (ugh) and the next morning we watched the news and found out that the highway we'd just driven on the day before was CLOSED. We were so thankful not to be stuck somewhere in Missouri or Oklahoma for a few days!

We continued to Flagstaff, Arizona then reached Los Angeles. We took a break from driving and from the cold weather and stayed with my aunt and uncle for 2 nights. I even borrowed a pair of shorts from my cousin so we could go walking on the beach! It was such a welcome change from all those times standing around in the freezing cold, putting gas in the car. Then we headed north, driving up 101 the whole way, stopping in Cresent City for a night before reaching Portland the next day. Overall the trip took us 9 days (8 days of driving). We really had a great time together.


Donny said...

OMG! Froggie! He was probably born in China or New Jersey, but with you he went places. He will not be forgotten.

Jessica said...

Lee, I love your stories! This one also makes me want to file away a pair of red goggles for Moon and Landon's emergency car kit. Strange thoughts you inspire, for sure!

Aaron said...

While you were busy moving into the left lane, passing cars that had drivers without the benefit of red-tinted snowboarding goggles.... I assume Mike spent some time with Goldie (or was that a different name), did he?

Lee said...

Aaron, no, we left Goldie in Rochester :)