Road Trip 2010 – Part 1

(Originally posted on LiveJournal)

I managed to get myself onto the road by 7 am on Tuesday morning. Even with a stop at the bank to beg from the ATM for hand-cash. The advantage about traveling eastward at that hour was that very little traffic (in relative terms for LA) was heading in that direction. So I made very good time and had gotten as far as Newberry Springs (on the I-40 beyond Barstow) by 9 am.

The morning was overcast with a marine layer of cloud, making it both very gray in the lighting and cooler than it might have been otherwise. The marine layer extended all the way out to San Bernardino and hung down in the Cajon Pass. It made the drive feel a bit odd because it seemed as if I was driving on a plain, because the mountains were obscured. Even into the Pass, the lower level of the slopes were visible but not much else. It was unsettling. I glanced at my speedometer as I was climbing and realized that the lack of reference made me unaware of my speed. I slowed down — let’s not overheat the car by trying to climb that pass at high speed.

The cloud cover began to break at 4,000 feet, and sunlight began to crack through. Once up on the plateau, it proved to be a nice sunny day.

Coppervale Studio

Coppervale Studio

My goal for the first day of travel was to reach Taylor, Arizona. I was going to be visiting with James Owen and his family. I arrived there about 5:30, and was, happily, not an utter road-zombie. My hosts treated me to dinner, and I thoroughly enjoyed the company. The big news with the family was the acquisition of two young goats, which the junior Owen members were raising as a 4-H project. They seemed quite diligent about this project, and hopefully they will stay so, but it should be noted it was Tuesday and the two goats had only joined the family that Sunday. Sophie (as she explained after dinner as we drove to the Coppervale Studio) has some very definite plans for her display pen for her goat (for an event still some time away). I observed that she was very ambitions about this … and, after thinking about it, added to her father, “But then she is your daughter.” James chuckled and said he was waiting for that addenda. At the Studio, I got to see the current piece of art he is working on (and no, Lynn, I did not drool over it), and was delighted to see the progress and typically Owen-esque details being added. Afterward, there was some time to enjoy the grounds of the studio in the dusk and nightfall — the quiet of the countryside holding the setting of the music of crickets, the occasional flitting of the resident bats (which happily consume the more pesky members of the insect kingdom), and the night sky of stars with a whispy veil of slight clouds. All in all, a very pleasant visit.

The next day, the drive across the rest of Arizona, New Mexico and part of Texas was mostly uneventful. But the changes of the landscape were a pleasure to see. Toward the end of the day, in the expanse of the plains, the skies were spectacular to see.

Spectacular sky over the plains

Sky spectacular

I found my hotel easily, and was glad to be done with moving for the day.

However, around midnight, there was a torential downpour.

In the morning, I learned that a nearby intersection had even been flooded during the dark hours of the night. And I would have several cells of storm weather ahead of me as I drove on to Dallas.

I had a steak and eggs breakfast at a Denny’s. But I had started later than I meant, which would have an effect at the end of the day.

In the meantime, I enjoyed most of the drive. For a good portion of time, the storms were distant, although the cloud cover was omnipresent, a dark low-hanging ceiling. It was intriguing, for I could see the gray of heavy rainfall off to one side or the other – a complete blur of gray from cloud to ground. But for a while the road I was on lay between such cells. Occassionally, the lighting seem to indicate that the way ahead was clear, and then suddenly the little sprinkles of precipitation would turn into sheets of rain. It required paying attention to the driving and not just letting cruise control rule the road. The road surface varied in how wet it would be at any point. And of course, the proximity of any big rig meant there was a large plume of kick-up water around them (no fun for the low-lying Mustang).

Driving in rain

(Not my picture of rain on a freeway)

At one point, though, the downpour was so heavy, I literally could barely see the white line on the side of the road. I was down to barely 50 miles per hour, and really anxious about the conditions. I took the very next exit that presented itself. As I pulled up the ramp to some country road, there over on the shoulder of the ramp was one big rig, already stopped to wait out the downfall. I pulled way up ahead of the rig, stopped and parked, and turned on my hazard flashers. A moment later, two other vehicles (and SUV and a pick-up, I think) also pulled up behind me and stopped. It seemed like a good moment for a little bit of cat-napping, so I did put my head back and let myself rest. The two late-comer vehicles pulled out after about 5 minutes. I followed about 3 minutes later, leaving the rig behind. The worst of the downfall had passed, and so I continued on.

Intermittent rain continued to punctuate the drive. Eventually I reached Decatur, where I took a two-lane (mostly) highway eastward to reach the I-35 to continue south to Dallas. It was here that it became obvious that I should have started earlier that morning. I hit Denton at rush hour time. Traffic in both directions was heavy. What I expected to be a mere 30 minutes to the hotel were Mythcon will occur turned into an hour and 15 minutes, mostly crawling along.

But I did arrive, and safely at that. And friends were already on site. I enjoyed the company of the Rauschers for dinner (Emily newly titled “Doctor” with the completion of her Ph.D. The effervescent Autumn was absent however, one of the few times she has missed Mythcon.).

And today, Mythcon begins.

But right now, for me, breakfast is calling.

Road Trip 2010 – Part 2

About Sarah Beach

Now residing in Southern California, I was born in Michigan and moved to Texas when 16. After getting my Masters degree in English, I moved to Hollywood, because of the high demand for Medievalists (NOT!). I love writing all sorts of things, and occasionally also create some artwork.

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