The morning of my appointment the skies were clear and the snow was all but gone. I had made the appointment for 3 in the afternoon. The drive was supposed to be only about an hour. I’m the forever early type of person and figured I would allow myself time to drive there then sit and have something to eat and maybe stop in at a used bookstore I had read about. The plan was to get there and relax until my appointment time then head back down the hill to my Ashland motel and then head for home on Wednesday. That was the plan anyway.
In the motel, the last thing I did was finish watching a news report about a California family that was missing after leaving and heading south back to the bay area. It was believed they had taken a bad road and were now missing for more than a day. I left the motel and headed for the tire store to buy chains for the car. They sold me cables and I made sure there were instructions. The clerk even walked me through it. I didn’t need them but I was trying to be cautious because I didn’t know what the weather was like up the mountain. It was about 10 am or so. Off I went into the wild blue yonder! So I thought.
I only got about fifteen minutes away before it started to snow. And it came on heavily. About five miles later, it was obvious that I needed the cables on the tires. I found a chain up area with several other vehicles stopped. I tried to figure out how to put the cables on but I wasn’t able to do it so I went up to someone putting them on their truck and asked for help. The man came over and put them on for me. However, he did show me that there was a longish part that should be cut off with wire cutters but he didn’t have any so he had just wrapped it around part of the cable on the tire. I thanked him and off I went. The going was very slow. I didn’t mind it. It gave me time to enjoy the beauty of the mountain in the snow. The tall evergreens on either side of the road, covered in snow, were amazing. It was like driving through a snowy tree tunnel. For awhile I was right behind a snow plow. That wasn’t too bad as long as I kept far enough back so I didn’t get all of the snow blow back, or whatever you call that!
Then I came to a crossroad and wondered. That was the road I was supposed to take off on to cut twenty minutes off of my trip. Or so I thought. I debated a bit because everyone was going the other way. But the only directions I had were to take that road. So I did. Big mistake.
After only about a mile, the snow accumulation was such that the road was only wide enough for one car. Not one in each direction. Just one car. I could not even figure out how to turn around and go back. I would have had to put the car in reverse and go back. I was following the GPS and it showed there were a few side roads nearby and I thought maybe I could turn around there. I forged on. It was still beautiful yet I was beginning to feel like there might be something unbeknownst up ahead. However, I really didn’t have a choice but to go on. As I passed the roads shown on the GPS, I couldn’t see any roads. All I saw was snow all around me.
Then I started to hear something that sounded like scraping on the car and I thought I might have caught a tree branch under the car. I stopped, put my four way flashers on (although I hadn’t seen a car for a long time) and got out to investigate. I saw that the extra wire from the tire cables had come unwound from the cable and was scraping on the inside of the front driver’s fender. I tried to wrap it back around the cable but I had no gloves and my frozen hands got cut. I got back in the car and went on. No choice but to do that. The scraping continued and unfortunately I didn’t think anything would happen so I went on. I really didn’t have a choice. I had a cell phone with me and thought maybe I could call auto club but there was no signal. The GPS showed nothing anywhere near me. I had to go on.
I went through, at about 15 mph, that road and finally got to the main road. Just as I merged onto the main highway, I felt and saw something fly by and hit the side of the car. I pulled over right away. I got out and found a huge hole in the side of the car. It was the fender that the wire had been scraping against. The scraping had caused it to wear away and the whole thing flew off. I saw the piece a way behind the car. I walked over and picked it up and put it in the trunk. I knew I was only about five miles from the doctor’s office so I went on, figuring I could find some help there. As I drove into the small town, VERY small town of Chiloquin, I realized everything was closed. I made it to the doctor’s office about thirty minutes before my appointment. The supposed-to-be-drive of one hour had taken over four and a half hours of time and about one hundred per cent of my nerves and stamina. From the waiting room, I was able to use the office phone to call Avis only to be told they could do nothing for me until “the day after tomorrow” and suggested I call my own auto club to see what they could do for me. I called auto club but they said they couldn’t help until the morning. They suggested I find a motel for the night and they would get to me first thing in the morning.
I saw the doctor. He took extra time with me because it had been so long since I had seen a doctor for anything. I agreed to wait while he saw other patients so he could spend that extra time for me. I had nowhere to go anyway so I waited. It was a good wait. They kept me entertained, bringing me magazines and a snack (I hadn’t had breakfast or lunch). When all was said and done, the doctor had stocked me up with about six months worth of sample packages of three of the prescriptions he wrote for me. He knew I had no insurance and one of the medications was not available in generic form and was over $150 for one month. We had a long, long talk. He asked about the kids and I was able to fill him in on the little kids who were now grown, two of them out of the house. I showed him pictures of them. He had his staff try to find me a motel nearby but everyone was completely full. They found the nearest to be in Klamath Falls, about twenty miles away. So off I went. By this time, it was about 6:30. About seven or so miles later, remember I was only going about twenty or so miles per hour because of the road conditions, I heard and felt another loud noise and the car came to almost a complete stop on its own. I stopped it completely and wandered out to see what was going on. By then, it had been dark for several hours and it was quite a bit colder. Upon investigation, I found the problem. The tire cable on the front passenger side had snapped and wound itself around the axle. I wasn’t going any place. The car was just not going to go any place. I tried to call auto club but for about a half hour I couldn’t get a signal.
Finally, I was able to get a weak signal and I called auto club. The problem was then that I couldn’t tell them where I was because I didn’t know the area and the snow banks were so high that I could not see any signs. I could only tell them the road I was on and where I had come from and where I was headed, oh and that I had passed the casino. That gave them enough info to come try to find me, after the tow driver finished another job. By this time, the battery on the cell phone was almost dead but I wanted to talk to my kids. I had the feeling that I was going to end up lost like that family I had heard about just before I left my motel room in Ashland that morning, which seemed like days, not hours. I called one daughter and couldn’t reach her. My son didn’t answer either. I did manage to get in touch with my oldest daughter and, trying not to alarm her, gave her a short recap of what was going on. I hung up to preserve the phone battery in case I had to call auto club again. I still had not eaten all day and it was close to 8. I had a banana in the car and a can of Diet Coke. Both were frozen solid so that was no help.
Eventually, I got a call from auto club saying that the tow driver couldn’t find me. They patched the call through to the driver who was a local and I was able to repeat where I had been and where I was headed and the road. He thought he knew where I was. Yay! Finally, he found me! He ended up having to tow me into Klamath Falls and leave me and the car there. He had more cars to go rescue. He said he’d be back at 8 the next morning to take me and the car to Ashland.
Finally safe, I fell apart in my room. I put the thermostat on full blast and although the room warmed right up, I could not warm up. I was freezing from the inside out. It had been -3 degrees out there and my hoodie and cheapo boots couldn’t cut it. I called room service and had them bring me food and coffee. They were no longer doing room service and wanted me to come to the restaurant but I just didn’t have the energy to calm myself, stop shaking, and go to get my food. So they made an exception and brought me my food and a whole, big, pot of coffee.
All along, while I was out in the elements, I found it ironic that I had finally gotten myself out of my depression and made moves to improve my health and here I could die out there. It had been a long day of trying not to think of the worst but still having it just at the back of my mind. And at times, I was sure I was going to die. I also found out that the road I had taken off of the main highway was a seasonal road. It is only used in the summer months. That’s why I never met up with another car the whole time I was out there.
I was so shaken up that instead of driving back to Santa Rosa the next day, I wasn’t able to shake the feeling and I ended up staying until Saturday morning, four days later than I had planned. I didn’t leave my motel room in all that time, in fact, I didn’t get out of bed except to take warming showers several times a day.The woman who owned the hotel had become sort of a friend because I had stayed there a number of times. She kept checking on me and brought me food and warm beverages. In fact, they charged me a very reduced rate for those extra days.
That was my first exposure to driving in the snow. I think that probably tells you why, when it snows, I don’t even think of leaving the house.
We’re still very icy here. Wednesday’s snow has not melted because we haven’t gotten any higer than 31 degrees. In fact, we are supposed to break a record in the overnight hours (I’m writing this at almost 1 in the morning on Saturday)…to about 17 degrees. Saturday afternoon, more snow! I’m not going out in it. Not a chance.