Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Road To Pasadena

Well, it's been a long but interesting drive to Pasadena but we're finally here.

The trek got interesting early as we hit snow just past Memphis on I-40 in Arkansas. After driving into the evening in the snow we decided to bed down at a Best Western in Clarksville. My daily driver has many of the modern creature comforts, one being the interior lights shut off after a period of inactivity. Not so with the Game Day van. My dumbass leaves the lights on all night and the next morning I awake to a dead battery.

Now let's take a moment to set the scene:

It's 4 am and snowing like a bitch.

I call a "24 hour" wrecker service and tell the attendant (who I can't help but believe I woke up) I need a jump. He then proceeds to run down a checklist of hurdles that will have to be crossed to get me jumped-off. Icy roads. Wake somebody to get to me. ("24 hr." ???) After about 5 minutes on the phone with the guy he finally gets around to telling me it will be one hundred and twenty five bucks to get me going.

I've got the cash, okay? Just not inclined to bend over like that so quickly. (and so early)

I'm a morning person.

I'm in Arkansas, home of Walmart. There has to be one on every corner.

Out comes the trusty I-phone. (Merry Christmas to me)

After a brief search, sure enough, right across the interstate.

I'm fortunate in that a cold blast hit the state of Alabama before we left and I was prepping things in the Game Day van wearing my thermal coveralls. Made it easy to shed them when it was time to leave and just throw them under the seat. Don the coveralls and off to Walmart.

The purchase of a 70 buck battery and an "invigorating" hike back through the snow got the Game Day van purring again and off we go into the morning darkness.

It didn't take long to discover the "24 hour" wrecker guy wasn't bullshitting me about the icy roads. About five miles into our excursion a Ford F-350 duelly with a trailer-load of equipment of some sort passes us on a rise. Dude had gotten about three hundred yard past me we he lost traction on the ice and spun out right in front of us. Off the road he goes, slams against the embankment, pointing the opposite direction he was headed originally.

Experienced drivers (such as myself - no gps needed) know that using your brakes on ice is a recipe for disaster. Less known and spoken of is the dangers of a vehicle in "cruise-control" on ice. This accident occurred while driving up a rise in the highway. I'm convinced this guy had his truck in "cruise". When the on-board computer sensed the resistance of the grade, it applied pedal and the truck lost traction. It now momentarily "over-revs" trying to regain traction and further complicates issues for the driver. I believe this happened because I never saw his brake lights until he was well around in front of us, totally out of control.

I wanted to stop and check on the guy. In fact, I did pull over. I twas at that point my beloved better-half (the street-smarts in the family) began screaming like a banshee, her contention being that another slob was going to come along and wipe out taking our good Samaritan asses with them.

(you know, no good deed goes unpunished)

A quick look in the rear view confirmed her fears. A convoy of tractor-trailers headed for us. They passed without incident but the combination of her correct thought process and that siren she was born with obliterating my eardrums convinced me to move on.

On pulling out special care had to be taken on the ice. The next thirty miles or so was driven at a snail's pace. Coasting across bridges. Judicious braking. The siren wailing.

Patsy Cline's on the radio:

There's a message here I'm thinking but too distracted to focus on it for the moment.

More later.

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