Well, this is turning into another snow day.
We’ve been getting crushed by this ridiculous Arctic Storm that has been depositing snow and ice across, as near as we can tell, the entire Southwestern United States, concentrated primarily on our truck.
We got lucky yesterday. I was starting to feel a little claustrophobic in these motel rooms so was cooking up some crazy plan to go ahead and camp in the Coronado National Forest, saying things like “Yeah, but the forecast says it will get up to almost 50 degrees and there’s only an 80% chance of sleet” when Val got out her phone, found a cheap motel in Alamogordo, and we sensibly spent our night eating Tex-Mex and watching cable instead of shivering and trading recriminations in our tent.
I was up before dawn in the morning, ready to believe that this absurd weather would finally have past us by, and threw open the Economy Inn window, only to see this:
Sooo… I rolled the kids out of bed and Val and I hustled down the street to stuff them with waffles in preparation for several hundred miles of driving. We were going west, dammit, until we actually saw evidence of the star humans refer to as “The Sun.”
Waffle nirvana achieved, we buckled everyone in, kept the truck in 4WD as the conditions were just atrocious (a nice mix of 3-4 inches of snow on a bed of ice) and made our way out of town, past Halloran Air Force Base, down Texas 70 toward Las Cruces.
There, we’d pick up I-10 and drive until the outdoor temperature was above 40 degrees (which has not been the case for the past four days).
Great plan, and we had the playlist queued up (many thanks, Shaun, and by all means keep making them, for some reason we keep going back to yours when things get… weird), and we were headed out of town with a full tank of gas and high hopes when this happened:
Yup. There was to be no travel on 70 as, according to our new friend the State Trooper (who incidentally complimented me on my tires, you have to love New Mexico) the pass to Las Cruces was a mess. So, we got to sit in the truck and wait it out, old school, with a few other people who had similar plans.
Finally, after two and a half hours, the trooper waved us forward. He explained his plan: the pass was now passable but he didn’t want a bunch of cars racing into Las Cruces in such miserable weather, so he was going to get two tractor trailers to lead the way and I was to follow, and not allow anyone to pass me.
I’m not sure exactly how he expected me to keep other vehicles at bay, but I guess he figured that my taste in tires translated into some kind of roadway presence. So, we were waved up front and the blockade was dragged out of the way.
With that, we were off, the two rigs up front, me close (but not too close) behind, and easily three or four dozen vehicles behind me. Halfway into the run into Las Cruces, a guy in a red minivan (it’s always the minivans, isn’t it) with Georgia plates (you know who you are) came weaving in and out of the convoy, working his way to the front of the line.
He was cutting people off, tailgating, and generally looking like a catastrophe waiting to happen as he closed on me on his skinny, tractionless, tires and underpowered ridiculomobile. “What are you going to do?” asked Val coolly, and I answered, nobly, “Nothing”.
I gave him all the rope he needed to hang himself, and he quite nearly did as, after passing me, he tried to pass the rigs in the right hand lane on the uphill into the pass which was, of course, a miserable slurry of ice and snow and he quite nearly shunted himself underneath the trailer itself.
He made it, we all did, but it was pretty tense.
We made it onto I-10 but, hours and hours delayed and with the weather once again getting worse (dipping toward freezing with banks of fog and rain/sleet on the horizon) Val and I did the most straightforward thing possible: pulled into Deming, found the local Wal Mart, let the girls stock up on markers and paper, and were on our way to check out when I discovered, incredibly, a ten foot high pile of Canadian Club Rye Whiskey on sale for $8.47 per bottle, with two free rocks glasses included.
My mind raced. How many bottles could I fit in the truck? If we threw out our tent and sleeping bags, the answer was “lots”. In the end I got two bottles, so one of my nagging crises (running out of Rye) has been completely solved for. We then pulled into a local motel, the Grand Motor Inn, where for $50 we got a lovely room with two twin beds and all the coffee we can drink. It’s heaven here. The kindly woman at the front desk even called us “just to make sure you are all doing fine” an hour or so after we checked in.
You know what? Our plans are in shambles, we’re cold and being battered about by this storm, we’re crammed into the damn truck and then into motel rooms with each other, and we’re all getting antsy because of it.
But, as I put down my complimentary rocks glass full of Canadian Club (iced, on principal, with a couple cubes despite the temperature outside) I realized that we are all, in fact, doing fine.