Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Whiteout in Canyon Country

Hola Bloggies:

Two days in a row of blogging! Woooooo!!!! I’m doing well so far! lol Winking

As you lovelies all know, for Easter weekend the Fiancé and I headed down to Boise. Yes it was a completely random place to go but we’re determined to get to know every place within a twelve hour driving radius of here. Because let’s face it – once we move back to the Coast we are unlikely to make road trips this far inland. Besides, we had four days off together (a rarity!) and thought it would be a fun trip. And since Boise is quite a bit south from here we were also hoping for sunny good times!



Having traveled the length of Idaho I can say it’s a surprisingly beautiful State! In the north there are the most spectacular mountain Valleys, then you hit some gorgeous lake regions, verdant fields, and even some crazy canyons (Hells Canyon is the deepest river canyon in North America – deeper still than the Grand Canyon). But on this particular drive down to Boise the wonderful sights could scarcely be seen for the rain and the snow. And when you managed to catch sight of the views you were greeted by ridiculous wind (see crazy hair shot above). Still we were having a blast.

At one point, however, the winds got so crazy we decided to stop at a gas station for a break. That’s when I noticed I was brutally dizzy from the constant feeling of the car being pushed by the wind. And when I overheard a trucker saying that sixty miles from there the weather conditions were really bad with cars all over the road. Cue the freaked out look! Worried

We thought about stopping for the night instead of making it all the way to Boise. But nope. Cooler heads did not prevail. We still had about three or four hours of daylight left and so we soldiered on. As Canadians used to driving in crazy weather and in a Mazda3 sporting snow tires we thought we would be fine. Initially we were and it wasn’t until sun set that the weather started to get kind of bad. It was snowing but it wasn’t that big a deal. Still we had pretty much come to the conclusion we were unlikely to make it all the way to Boise and were trying to make it to a place called Payette.

I can still remember passing a town called Cambridge, Idaho and noting there were two hotels. I also noted the sign indicated we were 29 miles from our desired destination. Easy peasy we thought. Even in bad weather we would be there in half an hour.

As we soldiered on we noticed there was no one on the roads – except for a ton of emergency vehicles. And still they didn’t close the roads so we figured everything was okay. By this point we were deep in the heart of a canyon and were starting to lose visibility. The snow was coming down quite hard and as anyone who has driven in a blizzard will tell you, it’s nearly impossible to see either with high beams or low beams. The Fiancé was driving and I was praying my little heart out. All the while I was desperately looking to either side of the road (which we could no longer see) to try to find some lights indicating a place we could stop. There was nothing. And so we kept going.

The next morning I learned it had taken us about an hour to drive about fifteen miles. We were crawling in a complete whiteout. I couldn’t see the edge of the road much less the lines!!! Living in the Rockies I’ve driven through some horrible weather but this was even worst!!!!!!! We were driving blind. There could have literally been a person in front of us and we would have hit him without any clue.

In the midst of my praying and trying to remain calm I managed to just eek out a sign beside the car. It said “Chain-Up Area.” Immediately I realized whatever road we were on was only going to get worse. No way did I want us to go through a mountain pass in a whiteout! The sign was a mixed blessing though since it meant that there would be a pull-out area. Quickly I yelled “pull over” and we turned right back around. Thank God for that sign! Honestly, we had been wanting to stop for some time but could see nowhere to do so.

Some five miles later I noticed some lights off to our right and we headed into the main street of a tiny town of 150 with one tavern. We walked into the local drinking establishment terrified and relieved to be off the road. I have never been so happy to see four random (friendly) faces looking up at me. Quickly we established that there were no hotels in that town but there were two in the little town of Cambridge some eight miles further back. The locals claimed that the road was practically straight, except for three miles through a canyon (eek!). Before heading back to the car I bent down to tie my shoelaces and realized my legs were trembling. Like a leaf. I was more scared than I wanted to admit.

Thankfully the locals were right. We made it back to Cambridge safe and sound. Much to our delight the hotel we stayed in was impeccably clean and quite cozy. In the end I think you could say we learned our lesson. From now on, when taking road trips in random small out of the way places, especially in winter, we will call it a night once it gets dark.

Did I mention that all of this took place on Good Friday? I guess you could say we got a second miracle that day – we survived!

Have you ever had any ridiculously close calls on the road?!Ever been caught in a whiteout!?

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