Monday, February 04, 2008

Well we started our annual vacation in Palm Springs. We left home in Pitt Meadows at 7 am on January 30th. We finally made it to PS - but it was quite the journey and we're not likely to forget it for awhile. It took us 2 hours to get from our house in PM to the Port Mann bridge, a trip that would usually take about 20 minutes! It was gridlock near the bridge and the roads were terrible. Garry says Mainroad must have been eating donuts all night as the roads were awful. The late start put us late into Canyonville but it all worked out and probably saved us a couple of bucks at the casino.

We normally make the trip in 2 1/2 days. We stop at Seven Feathers Casino in Oregon the first night, then on day 2 drive on as far as Buttonwillow, a little place outside of Bakersfield, and spend the night there. BTW - the Willow Barbecue there is fabulous, which is why we plan our trip to stop there every time! From there it's only about 4 hours into Palm Springs so it's a nice short relaxing drive through LA - well as relaxing as driving thru LA can be - and we don't have to fight a huge rush hour traffic jam.

Unfortunately, Day 2 was quite difficult. We only got about an hour away from our hotel when we discovered that they weren't letting anyone go further unless they had chains. We stopped in Medford but couldn't get chains because they didn't have low profile chains to fit our tires. We ended up purchasing something equivalent called the "spider" to the tune of $ 400, We got in line but lost one of the chains so had to go back to the shop to have it fixed. By the time we got back to the freeway, it was closed for 5 hours so we spent the afternoon sitting in a parking lot. When we finally got onto the freeway we had to go thru a chain checkpoint. Halfway to the checkpoint, we lost a chain so they turned us back, The first time we lost a chain we found it but the second time it was hopeless - just too many vehicles and they diverted us via a different road so we were SOL.

So back we go to Les Schwab in Ashland. By now it's 530 and we just squeaked in before they closed at 6 pm.! Very nice people there! They re-installed a new set - they said the first shop hadn't installed it properly and that was why we kept losing one. It was almost 7 pm before we got thru the chain checkpoint and on our way again. So at that point we were a full 10 hours behind schedule. The in-laws were arriving on Friday afternoon so we were worried we wouldn't arrive in time.

Long story short, we went thru 2 mountain passes requiring chains so had to chain up twice. The weather was good but the roads were really bad, especially through Shasta. The big transports were almost pushing us off the road and the second lane wasn't fully plowed in some areas. We could only go about 25 mph with the chains on so it was a little hairy to say the least!

We ended up driving all night and only stopped for gas and then for breakfast at 445 am. Unfortnately, we didn't get to stop in Buttonwill - phooee! We drove until 630 but just could not go any further so we grabbed an hour and a half sleep in one of the rest stops about 2 hours this side of Buttonwillow and then drove on to PS. We ended up here right on time, well actually probably an hour ahead of ourselves. What a trip!

The inlaws didn't get out of Ottawa on Friday anyway because of a huge storm, They had to re-book their flight and didn't get into PS til about 830 pm Sunday evening. They couldn't fly out of LA and had to be bussed from LA to PS because we had a huge storm here yesterday afternoon. The wind was incredible - trees down, sand blowing everywhere, power out for 12 hours - unbelievable! But they did get in safely so all is good.

Weather was nice here earlier this morning but has started to cloud over a little. Hopefully it will clear up - theyre saying it will get increasingly warmer as the week goes on so that's a good thing. However, did manage to get in the pool for a couple of hours yesterday so it's all good.

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