#WotW Holidays

Miles | Word of the Week

Friday, December 16, 2016S.V. CAMBRIA



This week, the only word that comes to mind is miles. And not the fun, nautical kind. But long, hard highway miles. Every winter, David and I pack up our truck and hit the road to spend the holidays with my family in Kansas. It’s a grueling trip (under the best of circumstances) with more than 1900 miles to cover. 

The northern route through Washington, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado is the quickest. But it’s also the one that’s most prone to winter weather. Last year, despite keeping a close eye on the conditions, we got caught in a snowstorm and had to sleep at a rest stop along Interstate 80 (I always carry blankets), both coming and going. David was adamant about avoiding a similar situation this year, and so was I. 

We’d been trying to get out of Kingston for days, but the weather had been very active. Every time there was a clear forecast for the inland portion of the trip, snow and ice were predicted for the Cascades (the mountain range east of Seattle). And once the conditions for Snoqualmie Pass were clear, the weather had moved east and was affecting the I-80 corridor. So, we looked to the south but the Siskiyou Mountains were posing a similar problem. It was getting frustrating.  

Finally, we saw a way through. On Saturday of last week, the weather along the northern route was going to be clear for several days, so all we had to do was find our way to it. Snoqualmie Pass was calling for more snow, but not until the afternoon. Did we want to risk it? I could tell by the tired look on David’s face that the answer was a resounding “no”. But, if we added a hundred miles to the trip by driving south to Portland and then taking I-84 east to I-80, we could avoid the highest elevations. And, as luck would have it, the forecast for the mountains along I-84 was good. The decision was made. We were going. 

Our spirits were high: The roads were good, and we were finally moving, and none too soon either – more winter weather was due to hit the Pacific Northwest the next day. But, as we approached Portland, the sky turned grey and it got colder. Some of the trees were completely covered in ice. And then we saw the sign: “I-84 closed.” I have no idea how we missed it in the forecast, but there it was. For a 50-mile stretch along both sides of the Columbia River, the roads were icy and shut down due to several accidents. 

We had a decision to make: Do we continue south, adding another 500 miles to an already long trip? Do we wait to see when the road might open? Or do we try to find an alternate route around the closed section of I-84? In the end, we went south. For 34 hours, spread over the course of three days and two road-side motels, we drove and drove and then drove some more through Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. Twenty-four hundred miles in total. Maybe my word of the week should be grueling, because it was. 

But we’re in Kansas now and are happy to have the miles behind us. It’s always difficult to transition back into life on land, but the excitement of the holidays and spending quality time with family helps soften the blow. Now our days are filled with last-minute shopping trips, Christmas gatherings and (my personal favourite) college basketball games. It’s a far cry from our life on Puget Sound but you know what they say . . . 



What word sums up your week? Join the conversation below in the comments section or on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you!

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12 comments

  1. I can't imagine getting to your route and finding it closed. Even on the road, the weather rules the day!

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    1. I know! It's so bloody frustrating. My nephew was supposed to drive down from Topeka for an early Christmas tomorrow but can't because it's snowing up there and the roads are going to be icy. Bugger!

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  2. That sounds like quite a journey! It's bad enough to have that sort of mileage ahead of you without having to content with the weather, too. Glad you made it safely, hope you have a fab time with your family x Thanks for sharing with #WotW

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    1. When we hit the 720ish mile mark, my husband was kind enough to tell me that we could have driven from the bottom of England to the top of Scotland by then. Sigh.

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  3. Oh my goodness! What a journey! I'm glad you got there in one piece. Eek!
    Have a fantastic Christmas x

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    1. Merry Christmas to you, Kim. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. That sounds a journey and a half ! glad you made it through and hopefully the weather will be kinder when it comes time to drive home. Have a wonderful Christmas. #WotW

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    1. I'm getting smarter and smarter, Angela. My husband is going to drive back on his own after the holidays and I'm going to stick around for a while and fly. Merry Christmas to you, too!

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  5. Ouch! Having to add 500 miles to an already long road trip is awful. When living on land, I never thought the weather would influence decisions like on the boat, but in winter times, the conditions rule! I'm glad you made it to Kansas. It will be so nice to be surrounded by loved ones during the holidays. I wonder whether you drove by our current back yard on I-80. Hopefully, you didn't have to come that far south in California!

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    1. Believe it or not, there wasn't much of an advantage to taking I-80 over I-40 so we opted to go down to Bakersfield and through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. I did think of you, though, as we motored through Sacramento.

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  6. I was watching your FB posts about your trip thinking it sounded horrendous, especially when you had to detour south. But it was worth it because there really is no place like home :-)

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  7. Wow that is quite an epic trip! So glad that you have managed to make it back to Kansas and hope you have a wonderful Christmas at home.

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