SWMBO and I took a trip to California to see Daughter #2 (and husband) and their two cute children (ages 2 1/2 and 5). We had a fun visit with them in their new (rental) house. Of course, all were terribly spoiled (SWMBO has a shirt with “Grandma Claus” on it). We brought their early Christmas present (a PS/4) along with some games. The grandson (and his dad) had much fun playing with the new games.
Our trip home was an adventure. We left early (6am) for what is normally a 13 hour drive up I-5. We made good time, and managed to miss the usual rush-hour traffic through Portland. But there was a bit of rain in the Portland area. A lot of rain. Enough that there was a big mudslide on I-5 just north of Woodland WA.
I use Waze (crowd-sourced traffic app that alerts you to problems – and patrolling police), and also use Google Maps for directions. (I know how to get home, but it is nice to see the ETA.) Maps told us about the road blockage and we were shuttled off the freeway just before the blockage. We ended up in the WalMart parking lot (and the Taco Bell next to it). There were varying reports of the magnitude of the slide, and how long it would take to clear it. We saw a few pictures on Facebook, and Pam immediately used Priceline to get a hotel room in Woodland. That was fortunate, as the hotel filled up fast.
So we checked into the hotel room, got settled, and watched FB posts from Washington State DOT about the slide. It was starting to get dark, and WADOT wasn’t going to do anything about the slide until they could inspect it the next morning. So we were fortunate to get a hotel room – lots of other people were sent to shelters at the school.
There is no easy way around the slide area. There is a back road, but the LEO’s were only letting local residents through. We could head down to Portland, then east up the Columbia River to get to Yakima, then take the northern route. But the storm was still active, and we were worried about snow closures.
Another possible route is back down to Portland, then west on Oregon Highway 30 to Rainer, then back to I-5. That would be a 2 hour detour. So we planned on doing that in the morning.
The next morning, WADOT had no estimate on opening. I figured that it would be at least the evening, since the slide was apparently still ‘active’. (Back in the old days, they would have sent a few bulldozers to clear at least one lane, and then you take your chances on driving past it. THese days, you have to study and engineer everything, so there was at least 6 hours of that that had do be done before they could even start clearing.) I figured the road wouldn’t be open at least until late evening (or night), so we decided on the Highway 30 option.
Back on the highway, southbound to Portland. Some heavy traffic to get through, but eventually got onto Highway 30.
Which was fully clogged. Two lanes in each direction; westbound was stuffed with cars and trucks. Full stoppages of 10-15 minutes; then a short 1/2 mile opening, then full stop again.
The trip on Highway 30, normally about 1 hour, took us 8 hours. A lot of dead stops and short bursts of speeds up to 30 mph. So our 3 hour trip home (from Woodland) took 10 hours. Lots of fun.
But, we made it home safely. And I was prepared for a long ride (full tank of gas, water and snacks, blankets, and of course, Flashlights).
Today, work on a WordPress plugin I am developing. It’s mostly done, just a final tweak that is taking a lot longer than it should.