The trip from hell

This last Friday I headed to points west to chase jacks. The trip out was uneventful, and took the usually six and a half hours. I had two extra dogs with me so that I could head over to Albuquerque to have OFA heart clearances done on Hemi and Cuda. Saturday was wonderful, a great time was had by all. Sunday, however, went south. I had to leave the field because I simply could NOT get my breath. I went back to the hotel, and whatever was going on steadily got worse. At 7 that night, I went to the emergency room at Eastern Regional. They took wonderful care of me, moving very quickly to ease my breathing and figure out wtf was going on. I got out near midnight. The situation was much more dangerous than what I am writing here, as I really don’t want to rehash the most terrifying experience I have had to date. The doctor did tell me that had I waited a couple more hours, the cleaning staff would have found my body the next morning.

After a somewhat decent nights sleep, I got up and headed to ABQ, still having some difficulty breathing, but I had been told to expect this for several more days. Made it to the specialty center, got the OFA testing on both boys. OFA cardiac clear by ultrasound and color doppler. The paperwork will go out tomorrow to OFFA.

Then, it went to hell in a neatly woven basket. By the time I got out of ABQ, it had started to snow. Not bad, but not too good considering the massive storm coming in. Fred the GPS wanted me to go to Lubbock, but I instead pointed the white box towards Roswell. Leaving Roswell, I hit heavier show, blowing sideways, with huge gusts. I figured that once I turned south at Brownfield, I would have an easy time of it. I could not have been more wrong. 20 miles south of Brownfield the road conditions went from “kinda nasty” to “oh shit”. The snow got much heavier, visibility started dropping, and my defroster started losing the battle. The further south I went, the worse it got, until about 20 miles north of Snyder, visibility dropped to zero. Whiteout. I went to the left lane and used the concrete barricade as my driving guide,  hoping that I wouldn’t smack into anyone in front of me. And I crept slowly towards what I hoped was salvation on I20. Stopping simply wasn’t an option, because I could not see…..not the road in front of me, not the road signs, not the exits. Nothing.

I20 was no better. 8″ of wet snow on the highway, whiteout conditions, so I hugged the barricade again and trusted that my GPS would let me know when my exit was coming so that I could bail off, IF I could find the actual ramp. Top speed: 5 mph, hazzards blinking like mad (white van, whiteout conditions…bad). I did get off the highway, but not before seeing a tragedy. As I crawled along I saw headlights behind me, then pass me. A car, eastbound, in the westbound lanes, totally disoriented in the snow. I called Highway Patrol, but they didn’t catch him soon enough. As I crested a small hill, I saw the devastation. Head on into an 18 wheeler, flashing lights everywhere, but nobody moving quickly meant that someone wasn’t going home that night. Horrible.

I made my decision right then that I would rather take my chances on virgin snow on the backroads rather than stay on the higway. So I bailed off at my exit, cleaned the windshield (again), and took off on the backroads. I stayed in what I thought was the middle of the road, and while the going was slow, it wasn’t particularly treacherous…until I hit Wingate, Texas. The roads then went from somewhat passable snow, to extremely dangerous sheet ice covered with sleet. Did I mention that it started snowing again? I skated/slid/drifted that last 65 miles home, never going more than 15mph.

The entire trip home usually takes me 6 1/2 hours. Yesterday…….13 hours. And I will never again speak ill of the giant white box on wheels. My trusty steed handled conditions that it was never designed for, yet it got me home, in one piece, with no unplanned stops in ditches. Something that I cannot say for the multitude of little cars, full size trucks, suv’s and 18wheelers. The wreckers will be busy for quite a while. Had I been in the AstroSkate, I would have never made it, and most likely would have been a statistic. I can’t say that I didn’t slide in the big white box, but with the wide stance and long wheelbase, everything happens in slow motion, giving me plenty of time to straighten it out and get the rear back behind the front.

I will tell you this. I do NOT EVER want to have to deal with that kind of shit again. Particularly under those circumstances.


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