The long way back

As I mentioned yesterday I went to Idaho a couple weekends ago. Originally I was going to take my friend Elizabeth with me and drop her off in Pullman. Her daughter is going to school at Washington State University. Elizabeth would stay with her daughter then Saturday the two of them and her daughter’s boyfriend would visit me on the farm for a Boomershoot private party. Due to conflicting schedules Barb was not going to be able to go with us.

A week or so before the trip I asked Elizabeth if she was still planning to go. I wanted to arrange for additional explosives handlers if the private party was still on. Elizabeth decided not to go because her daughter was coming home for spring break in just a week anyway. Fine. The weather wasn’t looking all that great anyway.

When I found that walking was the only viable way to get to Boomershoot Mecca to make the targets and that still another cross country walk with the targets and guns would be required I was pleased things turned out the way they did. What I didn’t realize was that the trip back on Sunday was even more reason to be grateful for the change in plans.

I worked on Boomershoot stuff Sunday until mid afternoon then stopped to visit daughter Kim on the way back and didn’t leave the Moscow area until much later than I usually leave. Much of the rest of story is contained in the texts I exchanged with Barb.

Joe (1832):

Leaving Moscow

Barb (1837):

Drive safe. ETA 12:30ish?

Ellensburg to North Bend is an extra 50 minutes right now. I hope that gets better as you approach.

Joe (1907):

Freezing rain west of Colfax. Roads are slick.

Barb (1910):

Sad smile

Joe (1920):

I just passed a car going east in the ditch.

Joe (1921):

Speed limit is 65. I, and others, are going 40.

Barb (1924):

Scary. Xoxoxo.

Joe (1925):

I’m doing fine. Safe but slow.

Joe (2014):

Another car in the ditch. Just east of Washtucna.

Barb (2055):

Ellensburg to Northbend is down to 29 extra minutes.

Maybe you could work at home tomorrow? And nap?

Joe (2057):

Good idea.

Joe (2115):

I’m going through Othello now.

Road is much better.

Barb (2127):

So glad the roads are better.

Joe (2140):

Very nearly had a head-on. Car was in my lane. Sad smile

This was a very, very scary incident. It was just west of Royal City and visibility was poor. The windows were extremely dirty on all the cars. Drops of mud and dirty snow kicked up from the road would freeze to the windshields. The defroster couldn’t provide enough heat to melt it and the windshield washers were frozen. The car’s lights had me nearly blinded and I was watching the line and reflectors on the right side of the road to see where I was. I was nearly as tight as I could to them and looked up to see the oncoming car was overlapping mine by a half car width. We both swerved but were still on a collision course when we were no more than 50 feet or less away from each other.

Barb (2141):

Oh my gosh!

Joe (2221):

The pass is closed. Sad smile

Barb (2222):

Oh no! I’ve been watching it, too. What do you do? Need help?

Joe (2223):

Find me a motel in Ellensburg.

This can be tough. When the pass closes the hotels fill up FAST. I didn’t know how long it had been closed and it was already late at night. People were not going to seriously consider going over Blewett and Stevens Passes, or White Pass, or through Portland to get to Seattle this late.

Having her help was a huge relief to me. I was just coming into town and having her able to call for hotels as I got off the freeway would save valuable minutes. It was cold (about 22F) and I didn’t want to spend the night in the car.

Barb (2229):

Super 8 in Ellensburg, $63 before tax. You have a reservation. 1500 Canyon Road.

Joe (2229):

Thank you!

Barb (2230):

Will you be there within 30 minutes? (that’s what I told her)

Joe (2230):

Probably 5.

Joe (2234):

In the lobby.

Barb (2234):


Joe (2242):

In my room.

Alone. Sad smile

Barb (2243):

Me too. Alone. Sad smile

Barb (2245):

The weather is really awful out there. This is much safer too.

Joe (2247):

Yes. I know it’s safer. I could have gone over Stevens Pass but it was have taken a long time.

Barb and I both woke up about 0300 and didn’t know the other was awake until she sent a text message about a different topic. We texted on various topics for a while then:

Barb (0310):

Wow. The pass is still closed.

Joe (0311):

Yup. No ETA for opening.

Barb (0323):

Maybe you could work from there in the morning, the pass will open and “lunch” would be driving home…

Joe (0323):


Barb (0338):

Free WiFi at Ellensburg public library if the pass is still closed after check out.

Joe (0339):

You should be sleeping rather than helping me. Smile

I can use my phone as a hotspot too.

Barb (0340):

Smile can’t seem to sleep.

Barb (0558):

Looks like Stevens is closed for avalanche control for a bit now too.

What Barb didn’t know was that I had left Ellensburg a little after 0530. I was going the Blewett/Stevens Pass route. I was planning to arrive in Seattle and have lunch with her as we frequently do with her perhaps still thinking I was stuck in Ellensburg. The plan to keep her in the dark was aborted later.

Here is a picture of the gas station supplied squeegee when I tried to wash my windshield at 0531. The temperature had dropped down to 16F:


The cleaning solution instantly froze when it touched my windshield. I got the windshield as clean as I could and headed for Blewit Pass.

Joe (0600):

Snoqualmie will be closed “well into daylight hours”.

As it turned out, Snoqualmie was closed until about 1630 that day.

Barb (0603):

Oh no

My Verizon phone lost service as I climbed into the Cascade mountains but I still had some signal with my AT&T phone. I sent Barb a text message from it so that she would be less concerned if I didn’t answer her text messages. It was also to tell her she should try my other number if the first one didn’t get a response.

Joe (0623):

No Version service now. ATT only.

Barb (0637):

Are you driving?

Joe (0638):

Yes. Going the Stevens Pass route.

Barb (0642):


Joe (0644):

Verizon service again.

Joe (0709):

In Leavenworth.

Barb (0711):

I’m on the bus. Xoxo.

Joe (0716):


Barb (0719):

Smile Yes! 11:45 somewhere? Subway or Taco del Mar?

Joe (0720):

Subway works for me. Smile

Barb (0721):

See you there!

Joe (0759):

Over the pass.

Barb (0800):

Wow! That is awesome!!!!

Joe (0800):


Barb (0802):

Oh my gosh. Road conditions look horrible, but at least it isn’t closed.

I took another picture which I didn’t send her simply because it didn’t provide any significant new information.


Joe (0803):

Not too bad. Snowing hard though.

Joe (0808):

34F. Slushing instead of snowing.

Joe (0812):

Raining now.

Barb (0813):

Yay. I’m so happy you are heading this way and getting closer!

Joe (0904):

In Monroe.

Barb (0904):


Long trip home…

Barb (0909):

Both 405 s and I5 south are red, but I-5 south looks slightly less red

Joe (0910):

Thank you.

Barb (0921):

405 s is now more green than i5 south

Joe (0922):

Thank you.

Joe (0926):

On 405 now.

Joe (1029):

I arrived at my office at 10:00. Now drinking tea to try and wake up.

Barb (1031):

Whew. Glad you made it. Looking forward to seeing you!

I’m so glad Elizabeth decided to cancel. Can you imagine the situation if having arrived in Ellensburg with the pass closed we then found hotel rooms nearly impossible to find? After I tell Barb, “Find us a motel in Ellensburg.” and she discovers there is only one room left and it only has one bed? Never mind that Elizabeth just found out a couple weeks ago that her husband doesn’t want to be married anymore and has a girlfriend (true).

Life could be a lot different right now.


3 thoughts on “The long way back

  1. Wow. A lot of texting and driving 🙂
    You missed a really exciting adventure by just *that* much :-/
    (yes, sick and twisted definitions of “exciting” I use)

    • My car has a Bluetooth connection to my Windows 8 phone. The voice to text on the phone is amazing good.

      It was far more exciting than I needed as it was.

  2. That is amusing coincidence. Stayed in Super 8 in Ellensburg driving from Seattle back to Colorado 4 yrs ago late fall. Fly fished the Yakima.

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