Sunday, August 14, 2022

The long trip home

Growing up, we lived “5 hours from anywhere”.  Obviously, that’s not exactly true, since where we lived was somewhere and that place was glorious and beautiful with the largest hospital locally, plus Kmart and JC Penny’s.  As far as remote small towns go, we were in the big leagues.  But, to get to a big city was 5 hours (with appropriate potty stops for us children).  But one year (1993? 1994?) we were “down south” (in the Los Angeles area) visiting my grandparents and getting ready for the 5 hour drive home.  It was my mom, my sister and me in my mother’s faux wood paneled station wagon. 


 We left Pasadena after breakfast and it was raining pretty hard.  My mom was driving on the freeway and the lanes were full (of cars and water) so she was pretty focused on staying in her lane when she couldn’t see the lines, when all of the sudden an Arrowhead water truck lost one of its empty 5 gallon bottles. My mom didn’t have any choice but to run it over and the bottle, being fairly large, got stuck under the station wagon. So she carefully pulled off to the side of the road.  It was the time before cell phones, so I imagine she walked to one of those yellow call boxes and called AAA.  It took them an hour to come and then just hit the bottle with a hammer and pulled it out so we could be on our way. 


We drove about an hour north before we got to Mojave, the last “real stop” before the long drive through the desert.  Despite being a real town, it was relatively small and you could normally drive from one end to the other in less than 5 minutes. Only this time, it was starting to snow (which it rarely did) and traffic dragged at a snail’s pace.  It took us 45 minutes to get to the other side of Mojave and as soon as we picked up the pace heading on the highway, we saw at least 4” of accumulated snow on the side of the road.  And we didn’t get to accelerate. She just made her way on yet another weather covered road where she couldn’t see the lines. 


My mom pressed on even as night drew and the snow continued to pile up, the roads became covered in white and we saw more and more big rigs parked on the side of the road.  My mom would drive what she could and stop where she could safely. It was slow driving with no chains and no plowed roads.  I’m sure my sister and I were in and out with sleep but there were parts I remember (like when we passed Coso Junction and she honked and honked at their lights and signs of life at the little rest stop).  I don’t know the exact time we arrived home, only that we did the math and it had taken us 14 hours to do that 5 hour trip and when I stepped out of the car there was snow up to my thighs.  


It was the trip that beat all trips in terms of hardships, challenges and time.  




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