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Dec. 21st, 2012 | 12:33 am

Due to the requests, Here’s the info about the route I took on my trip.

ON the way to Denver, I used a variation of the most-direct route:

I-90 to Ellensburg

I-82 to  Hermiston

I-84 all the way to Ogden

I-15 to Spanish Fork

US-6 to I-70 near Green River

I-70 to Denver. Large chunks of I-70 are at HIGH elevation and heavy snow and ice are normal. Yes, Dustin, Vail and Breckenridge show heavy snowpack this year…

Total, 1369 miles. The most-direct route has you stay with I-84 until it reaches I-80, then follow it as it loops up over western Colorado via Wyoming. You can save 50 miles and a lot of time, but the route suffers from near-terminal boredom. There isn’t much to see in Wyoming.

The route BACK was the interesting part. My original plan was to use the most-direct route:

I-25 to Cheyenne

I-80 to I-84 in Utah

I-84 to Ogden

…then reverse everything from that first route before ‘Ogden’.

Total, 1,331 miles. However, when I checked the weather Thursday, I immediately called Mike to tell him I was not going to make it back for Sunday. Wyoming and Utah both had snow forecast on multiple days. Wyoming’s idea of snow removal is putting out the ‘Tire chains required’ signs

The primary alternate route, North to Montana and straight West, had the same problem – and in Montana, once the snow falls, it’s there until March. No thanks.

The other option was South – Straight south to New Mexico, then loop around and up. Initially I was hoping to minimize the detour and stick as close to the southern border of Colorado and Utah, then move north to Elko and rejoin I-80. This would result in the following route:

I-25 to SR 550, just North of Albuquerque; then a bunch of state roads in New Mex, Colorado, and Utah:

SR 550 to SR 64

SR 64 to SR 491

SR 491 to SR 191

SR 191 to I-70

And from there reversing my initial trip, US-6, I-15, etc, back to Seattle via I-90.

Total, 1864 miles. Seemed perfectly reasonable, assuming the snowfall was limited to the areas I knew about and wasn’t widespread. And it only added a few hundred miles to the trip, on roads that looked they would be interesting.

Not likely. Instead I ended up in Albuquerque, with ‘snow’, ‘flurries’, and ‘white crap’ in weather forecasts wherever I looked. Okay, stick to major roads. I rethought and planned a new route, looping up via Flagstaff-Las Vegas-Reno and connecting with I-5 at Redding via SR 44. That route would look like this:

I-40 from Albuquerque to Kingman

SR 93 to Las Vegas

SR 95 to Fallon

SR 50 to I-80 to Reno

SR 395 to Susanville

SR 139 to Oregon, where it becomes SR 39 for some strange reason…

SR 39 to SR 97 to Route 58 to I-5 at Eugene

I-5 to I-405 to Kirkland

Total, 2,174 miles. A lot longer, but with stops in Reno and Vegas. The chance for some fun was still alive.

Again, not likely. I got a whole four miles out of Flagstaff, on my way to Kingman, the last stop before Vegas (and fun, I was determined to have some fun by this point) when I ran into what weatherpeople call ‘Heavy Accumulation’ – i.e., SNOW EVERYWHERE. A foot deep off the roads, 6+ inches off the plowed section of the roads, 2+ inches on the plowed sections – and the plows were running constantly. Vehicles fell into a small number of categories: Plows, 18-wheelers, cars in ditches/overturned/buried, and me. And it was visibly getting worse as I headed west. The second time I hit black ice hidden under plowed snow, I gave up. I turned around, called Mike again, and told him that maybe Tuesday would be workable. After talking to him (who was very reassuring in telling me that there was no need to hurry, that they could get someone to cover, and not to rush) I pulled out my phone again and revised the route:

I-17 from Flagstaff to Phoenix

I-10 to I-210 in LA

I-210 to I-5 just south of Santa Clarita

I-5 North, forever. Or at least all the way to I-405 in Tukwila

I-405 to Kirkland

Total, 2,448 miles. No Vegas. No Reno. No fun. Hell, no sighting of the ocean, despite driving parallel to it for over a thousand miles.

I drove into Cali – Hey, look! Sunlight! I actually had to turn on the A/C, which made me laugh. Welcome to SoCal! Drove to the LA basin, and decided I was at least going to see the ocean. So I drove down and took the PCH, the Pacific Coast Highway, for a short distance north. I drove it through Malibu and Santa Barbara. I took the 101 through Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo. Then I diverted back to I-5, figuring I could make some time and still make the Monday shift.

OF course, it snowed on the way. I outran most of the way north, repeatedly having it swallow up the road and force me to slow down. When I finally reached Washington, the snow was ready for a final assault. It snowed from Vancouver all the way to Renton, only turning to slush and rain after I-405 split off. By that point I didn’t care, I was going to drive no matter what. I averaged 65 in driving snow and roads with no lane markings visible. And most of the way I was being outrun by people driving cars much worse than mine for this sort of work. People are strange.

The final route, high points only:

Broomfield, CO

Albuquerque, NM

Flagstaff, AZ

Phoenix, AZ

Santa Monica, CA

Malibu, CA

Santa Maria, CA

Atascadero, CA

Avenal, CA

Kirkland, WA

Total, 2,549 miles, 39 hours of driving. Here’s a link to the map of the route:


Oh yeah, I also stopped at 1333 2nd Street in Santa Monica (HQ for my company)  and took a picture of the front door. I would have grabbed lunch with someone but it was Sunday. Oh well. At least I’m back.


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