Nate, GNOME! and I drove to Arizona for Thanksgiving with his family this week. It was a great trip and I’m thankful for having spent time with them this week. The journey, which we made in a rental car, was not as enjoyable.
Our drive to Sedona started a little later in the day than we had planned and once we were on the road we were just in time for severe wind gusts as we made our way through the Mojave desert. At times visibility was no greater than a few dozen feet. Sand whipped across the highway as winds jostled the car, a clear blue skied day took on a yellow haze, sand blowing from Joshua Tree to the Arizona border.
It was only slightly treacherous and no casualties were seen along the way. It was beautiful, really. I have always been excited by extreme weather and driving through the desert in winds like that was an interesting experience, especially as the passenger.
We arrived in Sedona past sunset and enjoyed some morning sight seeing before we made our way to Flagstaff.
The few days we had there were great. We saw a lot of craters, walked the dog on some new trails, and helped prepare a delicious holiday dinner for the family. We had been anticipating a winter storm even before we had left California, and as we sat down to eat our turkey we were anxiously awaiting the flakes to start falling.
We woke Friday morning to a fully blanketed Flagstaff and had our coffee while we watched the highway closure reports. Because I was scheduled to work in Joshua Tree over the weekend, we needed to get on the road to begin the six hour drive.
I’ll spare you the play-by-play and finally get to the point: our six hour drive took 25 hours to complete.
Several semi truck crashes, some five at a time, left us sitting in a miles long standstill on I-40 West for 8 hours and 30 minutes. Parked, in our car, with our dog, idling in 20 degree temperatures, for eight and a half hours.
What did we do? Absolutely fucking nothing. My phone was out of service range and the AZ Department of Transportation provided no ETA for when the crash would be cleared. We had a bike in the back of the car, so our seats wouldn’t recline. We didn’t know if we’d be moving in 20 minutes or 20 hours, so we didn’t settle in for a long nap.
I watched the USPS truck driver throw all of his garbage off the side of the road and he just shrugged his shoulders at me when I asked him what the fuck he was doing.
We watched the snow and watched the sun set. Watched the rain turn to ice and watched bad people speed past 10 miles of standstill traffic on the shoulder of the road to end up…. who knows where? Did they get tickets? Did they make it home before we did? I don’t know, but I think they’re all assholes for thinking they’re so important.
Once AZ DOT updated us that I-40 W was once again open it took three hours before we even reached the accident (which was only four miles ahead of us.) Five semi trucks piled up on a one-lane construction section of the highway, where it took rescue vehicles hours to navigate.
13 hours after we embarked on our drive home, we made it to Kingman, Arizona, checked into a motel and headed to Denny’s for dinner at 2am. I can’t believe we didn’t see a single food truck while we were stuck in 13 hours worth of traffic. Don’t go to a Denny’s in Kingman at 2am.
We were asleep by 3:30 and on the road the next morning at 7.
The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and my boss had offered to open the shop for me just in case I couldn’t make it in time. Things were looking up!
I got to see a cool power plant like the ones I neurotically search for on Google Maps. We passed a lot of prisons. We crossed the state line and made it to California!
Then we were face to face with our route home, the road that takes us right to our house, closed due to flooding.
I could have screamed, I could have cried. We looked at each other, laughed, took a photo and rerouted an additional 2 hours so we could get the fuck home.
We got to Joshua Tree at about 11:15, 24 hours plus one hour time change after we had initially set off on our six hour drive.
I showered, went to work, and now I’m home writing this so I can send out my goddamn newsletter. Salty as fuck, but happy to be home and am even happier to sleep in our own bed tonight.
Here’s the story in photos, beginning with the one above, which was at the start of our trip in the wind storm.
Enjoy, and apologies for the profanity. Not gonna edit xoxo