Undaunted

For weeks we had been planning another trip to Reno and a short stay at the Grand Sierra Resort. This trip was planned as a vacation and we had no major poker agenda. Work happened to give us a holiday on Wednesday followed by a furlough on Friday, so we took a vacation day on Thursday and had a long weekend. (See earlier piece “Still a Scammer” on the negotiation of the room rate.)

My travel buddy for this trip was GG and he has a very nice two year old Lexus that we usually take on road trips. That is just how we roll. GG enjoys playing the Robin to my Batman. About two weeks before our trip GG started his usual whining about potential bad weather. He was even contemplating changing from driving to flying. Oh hell no! We are going and the weather will not be that bad. For Christ sakes it is April. I hate when there is somebody more conservative than me on the trip.

I put into place my contingency plans and at that point was considering a full-on risk management plan. I decided we could take one of my SUV’s and I could drive over the mountain. My wife was not a huge fan of me taking her Murano, even though it is a four- wheel drive and would be the most economical and provide the best ride. I have chains for the Expedition and it has the best all terrain tires on it, making it a viable option even though it is two-wheel drive. The week of the trip we took both the Expedition and the Murano in for service to keep my options open.

Our departure date was set for Wednesday and on Monday the weather report could not have looked worse. I did my best to ignore the weather forecast and tell GG and my wife that the road is pretty good. I looked at the traffic cameras and it was solid white and snowing hard. I convinced GG that we would make a run at it and if we get stopped we will have lunch and make a day of it. The idea of vacation is to get away from stress and relax.

I was running behind all day Tuesday and did not get everything at my house settled until 2:30 a.m., managing only a three hour nap. I had a doctor appointment at 6 a.m. and then I had to pick up GG at 7:30 or so. I made it over to the GG home front by a little after eight. Lucky for me GG volunteered to drive the first leg through the valley. A quick stop at Starbucks and we were on the road by 8:30. I tried to emphasize that we were in no rush as I wanted to go over the mountains in the afternoon.

I had forgotten how slow GG drives as he tends to put it on cruise control about five miles per hour under the posted speed limit. Of course nature was calling and a pit stop was in order after about an hour on the road. GG employed his techno-geek skills and knew every gas station on the route, proudly delivering us to an Easy Off gas station. Unfortunately, the public restroom has become an endangered species. Urinating on the side of their building should encourage them to share the wealth. Then again, we are the ugly Americans.

Loomis brings another Starbucks stop and a driver change. I am in the drivers’ seat for the mountain leg of the trip. I am exhausted but the timing is good and the weather looks great. Roaring up the interstate at 85 mph I find the weather change almost immediately. The sun is gone and the clouds are dark and there is snow on the shoulders of the road. The temperature plummeted from mid-50’s to low 30’s in less than an hour. Seeing the weather warnings and “carry chains” signs, I just smile.

In the face of mounting adversity I kept the accelerator firmly pressed to the floor and roared up the road with every intention of driving through the storm. GG asked me, “Can you even see the road?” I replied, “Being able to see is not a prerequisite for driving”. GG started to whine a little bit about the quality of the wiper blades and the inability to keep the windshield clear. The sanding of the road made the water spray coming off the tires into a grey mud that was not easy to clear off the windshield. Every fifteen minutes or so I would use my washer reservoir and clean it to see again; but I knew that I had a limited supply of washer fluid and was stingy with it using it only when I truly could not see at all. I just laughed and kept on trucking.

We arrived safely in Reno around 2:30 and GG had managed to get a few pictures along the way before the windows were too muddy to see out. I have driven in much worse and we did not even have any real close calls or out of control moments. Caltrans did a great job on Interstate 80 and got the road plowed and sanded first thing in the morning. Thanks guys!

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