Countdown To A Sub-Zero Escape Part 2

My beloved Toy Hauler is once again, parked safely in my driveway, thanks to my dear friends and neighbors, June and Randy.  With 3 days to get everything else in order to leave, I am scrambling to get it all done.  People to see and say goodbye to.  Dogs to shampoo.  Items to pack.  Errands to run.  Details to wrap up.  The days burn away quickly.  Now here we are, almost ready to peel out of town with the Thanksgiving crowd.  The plan is for Randy to come over with his big truck, hook up and pull my trailer to the shopping center first thing in the morning, where we will hook up to my truck and level it for the journey.

Then I catch a glimpse of the forecast as I sprint past the TV.

It’s currently 20 degrees.  Snow.  Cold. Winter storm warnings, exactly the direction I am headed.  Then I glance outside to discover it has just started snowing.  Seriously?  And it will be several hours before my neighbor gets here.EscapeP21

I call a friend who works down south for a “real life” weather report.  He says it’s looking pretty bad and if I don’t have to leave today, I should wait.  I ponder this notion for a few minutes.  Wait?  What would that mean?  The temperatures get even colder up here Thursday, and windy further south….it would mess things up worse for over half the trip for sure.  I ponder some more.  Now there is 3 inches of fresh snow on the ground, still falling. Ok.  I jump into the Toy Hauler and start pulling out everything I just put in there that I didn’t want to freeze.

I watch the clock.  It’s almost 11:00 am.  The dogs are anxious.  I am second guessing my decision.  Someone peed by the back doorway and Jack rearranged everything in the kitchen he could reach—again.  After cleaning up and picking up I catch a weather update.  Looks like the storm is moving slower than expected.  I could still make it.  I could skirt past it before it hit highway 35W.

I’ve got to try!

So I rush to re-load everything back in the Toy Hauler, toss the dogs in the truck, and shower while Randy hooks up the Toy Hauler to his truck, and straps my gear in tight.  After one last look, I lock up the house, say goodbye, and we head to the shopping center.

Escape22Hooking up to my truck has become a snap as I get more proficient, but doing it in the cold and snow is a whole different matter.  Still, we got it done, Randy filled my airbags to 80 pounds which “almost” got me level, and by 12:15 I was hugging him goodbye and pulling out of town.

Who knew there would be bumper to bumper traffic at noon on Wednesday?  I did.  This is why it was so important to leave early in the morning.  Oh well.  We chugged along the highway through the south metro, finally reaching 35Wsouthbound where the traffic seemed to disappear.  I am pulling one heck of a heavy load, so I stay in the right lane and keep it to 55.  Sure, there is a little slush on the road, but nothing major.  But the further south we get, the thicker the slush.  Soon, we are in a convoy of slow moving vehicles.  It has started snowing hard again.  The slush is thicker, too.  We just passed two cars in the ditch, and one in the median; things are degrading by the minute.

The road conditions changed drastically over the next few hours.

Yes, on a scenic, snowy trip pulling my 28 foot trailer south on 35W from Minneapolis to just past Mason City Iowa I witnessed 67 cars in the ditches (most heading north) and 3 semi’s rolled (two in the median heading north, stuck together side by side). Escape23 Although I left home at 12:15 I didn’t reach the Clear Lake (Mason City) exit until 7pm.  That drive would normally take less than 3 hours!  The fastest I’ve drove was 40mph.  Most of the way we crept along at 15 or 20mph.  I finally made it to the next rest stop, and knew I just couldn’t go any further, it was too scary!

Things could have gone much differently for us.  Even in the best of conditions, there’s nothing worse than pulling a huge, heavy load slowly and having impatient drivers zoom up from behind, dart around you to pass and zip right in front of you.  It’s a completely white knuckle-harrowing experience to manage it in a snow storm!  Have to give a HUGE THANKS to so many of the drivers out there that were being careful and respectful of weather, speed, and distance, it truly helped!

Up ahead I see an exit with a truck stop—thank the Gods, we are pulling in!  The truck-stop was surprisingly quiet.  I pulled into a double stall, grabbed the dogs, and tried to convince them it’s “potty time”.  Never saw them pee so fast and run to the Toy Hauler door.  I let them in and went into the building to try to get some information.  The wind is picking up, the roads haven’t been closed “yet” but there is a solid layer of ice down now.  Best thing would be to wait until morning when the plows have come through, and the sun hits the roads.  Good thinking.  We are safe now, and can just curl up in our toasty warm house on wheels and wait it out.  But wait, why isn’t the propane furnace turning on?  What?  WTF?  Why isn’t it turning on????  Everything is frozen, including my dinner.

So, here we are, stuck spending the night in the trailer with no heat.  Then we wake up at 5:00 in the morning to -8 degrees, with blowing snow and ice on the road.  Back to the blankets until sunrise!

 

Life is an adventure!  Are you waiting for an invitation to experience an amazing life full of adventure, or do you just go make your own?  There are lots of inspirational stories under my blog category, “PRs Amazing Outdoor Adventure Update”.  If you find yourself not doing what you love, I invite you to contact me for help to create your own, amazing adventure.  Please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in exploring the possibilities with PR Brady AdVentures.

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