Donner Pass has a famous note in history. Driving through this illustrious area was a breeze for us compared to this crew of 1846/47. Check out this link. The story is amazing and in our future time peril, our trek was much more about 'California drivers getting there' than winter and terrain and cannibalism.
I'll preface this entire segment by saying that once we hit Truckee, the terrain change was so awesome and welcoming that we enjoyed the sunset over the California border more than any other. Truckee is a very homespun, last western spot before you really enter California. It feels like they mined for gold there. I will admit, there were some trendy little niches, but the main street might as well have had gunslingers or gold diggers fighting in the streets. The mountains hover, the clear air invigorates and the pine trees are beautiful.
We stopped for gas and headed downhill. Now mind you, the entire way across country, we saw 2000 miles of construction zones where no one, ever, not ever, not once was working. Everyone slowed down (from 85-75) and then blasted on through the state. California, with all its budget woes and traffic woes has a different way of dealing with this. Not even a mile out of Truckee, the constructions signs were up, and yes folks, there was road construction.
Let me tell you a little bit about this stretch of road. For two hours and probably about 100 miles, its all 6% grade. What does that mean? Well, if you have a hill near your house it means you put the brakes on for a few seconds near the bottom. Here? Two hours of putting your brakes on non-stop with constantly curving roads around hills into canyons (where you don't have a clue what's around the next sharp curve-but that doesn't make you slow down!) and there is no shoulder (road construction) and there are semi's screaming their air brakes the whole time and there are tourists from Squaw Valley trying to get home to L.A. before dawn going 75 miles an hour. Get the picture? I think not. Remember that reference to construction? California pays its Sunday (at 9 pm) workers to work on this stretch of road where you come around a bend and come to a dead HALT! The traffic is backed up a half mile, a full mile, into eternity? I feel grateful we didn't die. There have been powerful wrecks there. It wasn't our day.
It didn't stop me from having, yet again, one of my heart failures....I won't go into the details but the fact that I'm still here and Richard still loves me is a testimony of 'how deep is your love'. He should have tossed me out..I would have walked, but there was no SHOULDER to walk on!
By the time we got to Sacramento and it was reasonably flat we weren't even talking. I was emotionally drained. We had breakfast in Wyoming. Now we were dealing with the 11 pm rush hour on a Sunday night and I soon knew how CRAZY California drivers were. You have 6 lanes. Do you have to dodge across them all, ALL the time at 75 miles an hour??? I was punchy. He was punchy. We just wanted to get to San Jose. Finally, we followed our directions, got to Santa Clara, got off the exit and the road we needed wasn't there. We drove in circles for 45 minutes and finally I said (the words no man wants to hear), "Pull over at the gas station, I'll get directions." No cars, no people just one simple, very polite and nice woman working in the place who couldn't speak English. NEXT....stopped at a restaurant next to a hotel. The girl working inside actually went out to her car to program our destination in her Garmin. No good. Richard in the mean time called Oz and Kat (our destination, his sister and brother in law). They couldn't even identify where we were. We kept driving with vague, "I think if you go here...you might get here." There was a place not far down the road where a cop was clearing up a fender bender. We pulled over, I asked directions and then, FINALLY, we found out their apartment complex was a few miles down, to the right. Thank you CHIPS.
2:30, Monday Morning, just shy of 68 hours, driving across country. We found our destination. We sat up with Kat until four, slept on the blow up mattress, met our new niece Anwen and crashed. What a ride it was indeed! Day Four coming up next.