February Road Trip -- into Louisiana -- 2/2 - 2/7.
February might not be an ideal month for traveling, but February is what we picked. Watching the weather, we thought we'd be in the clear... and mostly we were. But this is still winter and what a winter it's been in most of the US. Those of us in NorCal hadn't experienced much in the way of cold this year, but we made up for it this trip! We aimed for the Southeast, which is a long, long way off. We left NorCal on Sunday, Feb 2nd, hoping to get to Louisiana by the following Thursday or Friday -- much more day-to-day driving than we like to do, but there's a reason for that.
The first gas-up at Exit 278 off I-5 (Lost Hills/Wasco). Gas prices are down from last year - YAY!
The sky didn't look so good at the exit. Driving south, we watched what looked like a gauze curtain come closer (a downpour?), but we passed in and out of it w/o seeing a drop. Very strange.
Monday morning: New almond trees lined up in Wasco, near Bakersfield, CA.
Here's a pretty sight from I-10 in Arizona.
This looks weird - near Tucson.
I-10 skies in New Mexico.
Cold winter's sunset in El Paso, Texas. 34° low temp.
Things began getting ugly at Sierra Blanca in west Texas. The temp dropped to 28°. A traffic advisory flashed at roadside indicating "freezing fog" ahead. Use caution. Ice formed on the windshield!
Soon everything was coated in ice. All lanes of traffic (west and eastbound) stopped. We sat in a long line of 18-wheelers, inching forward every now and then for approximately an hour-and-a-half.
We began seeing wrecks like this one.
Trucks all over -- on their sides, jack-knifed, facing backwards....
RV's bashed in, vehicles of all types smashed. We lost close to two hours creeping along in this mess, but we made it out intact. That's the important part. However, combine those couple of hours with an hour lost to time zone change, and we made it only as far as Ozona, Texas... in subfreezing temps and a vicious headwind. We hunkered down, pulled in the slides at bedtime, and left both the small electric heater and the catalytic propane heater on.
The next morning's temp was 18°, as you can see. Our water pump was frozen solid. We'd had to unhook Smartie when we pulled in the c/g last nite, and hooking up now at 18° was brutal. Light snow was falling.
Driving east out of Ozona, snow edges the freeway. Leaden skies.
Busy I-10 traffic... NOT. Smart people were home in their beds! We just wanted to get out of here.
Made it to Houston just before rush hour. The temp in Houston was finally above freezing - up to 36°. We also saw snow on rooftops and alongside the freeway as we drove thru San Antonio. By now, water was flowing when we turned on our faucets, thank goodness. Our dashboard heater remained on full blast all day. We fought a ferocious headwind again. Not a fun day's drive. We pulled into Hidden Lake c/g in Beaumont TX at dusk, and sighed with relief. This was a very long almost-500-mile day.
And after a leisurely (Friday) morning, we made for Baton Rouge (about four hours away), and my sister's place outside of Baton Rouge. When we pulled in their driveway, our trip meter said we'd put on 2300 miles since our Sunday departure. Whew! The best news is we'll stay a while!