Friday, July 31, 2020

The Move: L.A. Will Not Let Go So Easily

We've said our goodbyes to family and friends, packed everything up, and now it's moving day...the Sunday of the long President's Day weekend.

After years of drought, nature has blessed our Golden State with record setting rain. That includes Southern California and, of course, our moving day. We're fairly lucky as it's sunny with just some intermittent sprinkles as we load up the moving truck.

It's about 3 hours until the movers have the truck loaded. I've budgeted another 2 hours to clean the house and garage after they leave. The plan is to try to get at least to Visalia...about 70 miles north of Bakersfield...then drive the rest of the way to our new home in Amador County the next morning.

The problem is that we have to transit over the San Gabriel Mountains along the way. A massive storm is settling in and the snow level is predicted to be 2,000 feet. At the summit of the Grapevine on Interstate 5 (the main route over the mountains out of Los Angeles), the elevation is 4,144 feet.

You can see that the math is not in our favor, I'm only hoping that time is and the storm can hold off until we get over the top.

Listening to the weather reports, it's not looking good. My wife is trying to get a lot of little, unnecessary stuff in before we leave like staining scratches on the wood floors. I tell her the buyers bought the house and agreed to the condition it is is way more important to get out before we're snowed in. I wish I could have been nicer about it but urgency was making me more demanding about it than I usually would be.

Not too happy, she finally stopped, we got in the van, and hit the freeway as soon as we could.

Listening to the traffic reports on the radio, we hear that it's already snowing on the Grapevine. Cars are only being allowed with a Highway Patrol escort and is delayed for hours. We know that detouring through the desert via highway 14 through Palmdale and Lancaster would only add an hour in normal circumstances.

Letty checks the traffic reports on her phone and notes that no restrictions or delays are on that route, so just past the edge of the San Fernando Valley, we take the exit to the 14.

The rain is now coming down. The other side of the freeway is empty. Soon, we see why.  A very big and nasty accident soon comes into view on the other side. Luckily, no one on our side is slowing to look and no serious injuries seem to have taken place.

For the next 45 minutes or so, the rain kept up a steady beat and the wind was howling. Just before Mojave, in the community of Rosamond, snowflakes started to mix in with the rain drops.

Not long after that, we had a true blizzard on our hands as heavy snow blew sideways as we inched our way along the freeway. There was a little let up in Mojave but we could see dark clouds and more heavy snow to our left...our next leg over the mountains towards Tehachapi.

Climbing the mountain, the snow picked up again but wasn't sticking to the road.  At the top in Tehachapi, we saw a Jeep Wrangler that had just slid off the road, kicked up against a fence about 100 feet off to the side.

Luckily, no one was hurt.

We soldiered on and, after clearing the summit and heading back down, the snow turned back into rain.

Breathing a sigh of relief, we continued on to Bakersfield and then Visalia. It was dark now and we were tired of driving. I pulled out my phone, looking for a place to spend the night. It turned out the best looking option was the parking lot I was in...the Wyndham Hotel next to the airport.

I walked into the lobby and a suitable room was available. We loaded out of the van, ate a nice dinner at the hotel restaurant, and spent a not too restful night in the hotel.

That was a very tough drive.

The next morning, it's another meal at the hotel and off we go. About three hours of driving gets us to our next destination, the Jackson Rancheria Casino Hotel, about 15 miles from our new home.

We'll be spending the next three nights here while the former owners of our new house move out.

For now, it's a precious couple of days to relax. The next hard part will come in a day or two.

Darryl Musick
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