Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

Winter Road Trip Day 2: Bishop to Los Angeles

We slept in for a couple of hours this morning, figuring that we should have had the worst of the snow behind us as we drove from Bishop to Los Angeles to attend Loscon. We were wrong.

Vagabond Inn Bishop

Here's the view from outside our of our hotel room at the Vagabond Inn. The hotel room was nice enough, but the bed was a tad harder than even Lisa prefers. There's an included breakfast including a waffle maker, bagels, hard-boiled eggs, oatmeal, and coffee/tea. Not quite as good as say a Holiday Inn Express, but better than those places that, if they offer anything at all, only provide high-sugar sweets.

Our departure from Bishop was delayed a bit because Schat's Bakkery was open this Thanksgiving morning. This is a great place that I did not appreciate when I lived here in 1979-81. We bought a loaf of their sheepherder sourdough bread along with lunchmeat and cheese to make sandwiches later, as well as a loaf of raisin break and their chocolate chip cookies. We were lucky to escape with only that stuff, as their bread and other bakery goodies are excellent.

We'd assumed that the snow would abate as we headed south. Instead, it started getting worse.

Snow Zone

South of Lone Pine, we encountered chain controls. Fortunately, they were only "R-1" conditions, so vehicles with snow tires (like the all-weather tires I have) were not required to put on tire chains. Donner Summit generally goes straight to R-2 (chains required except for 4WD with snow tires). In our case, I would have been unhappy using chains because there generally wasn't enough snow on the pavement. Lisa kept it slow and steady, letting others pass us if they insisted on going fast on snowy pavement.

US-395 Bottleneck

US-395 is mostly four lanes in this stretch but there is one section of two-way traffic, which was possibly one of the most nerve-wracking sections due to the danger of oncoming traffic possibly going out of control into our late. Fortunately, everyone was keeping is slow and straight ahead.

Chain Queue

We eventually reached in the end of the chain control area. Here's the line of cars heading north queued up to put on their tire chains and ease around a spin-out. We saw vehicles spun off the road numerous times today, and a number of more serious accidents, fortunately for us all going the other way.

Out of the chain zone, we though we were in the clear. Wrong again.

Clearing Roads

We figured that as we continued south, the snow would turn to rain and we'd be done with icy roads.

Diverging Routes

Here we swung off US-395 and turned toward Lancaster-Palmdale and Los Angeles.

Desert Snow Near Mojave

Approaching Mojave, the snow started again. Much heavier than expected.

As we got closer to Lancaster marveling at the snow falling so heavily in an area that rarely gets such weather, the darn windshield wipers came loose again. Lisa carefully pulled off the freeway and re-secured them temporarily, but we clearly needed new wipers, and sooner, not later.

Wiper Replacement

I'm glad I was able to find an O'Reilly Auto Parts near the freeway in Lancaster using my smartphone. Lisa maneuvered us carefully off CA-14 into the parking lot (in which the snow was up to 5 cm deep) and we bought a fresh pair of better-quality windshield wipers and she installed them. We had no further problem with wobbly wipers on the trip.

After Lancaster is Palmdale. I found myself putting three words in a sentence that I never expected to run together.

Snowstorm in Palmdale

I never expected to send out a tweet labeled "Snow in Palmdale" but sure enough, the snow just kept coming.

Snowstorm in Palmdale

Fortunately, Caltrans was at work keeping the roads relatively clear, and there was enough traffic to break trail without bogging down too badly, at least southbound. (There had been a huge backup northbound trailing out of Mojave. I'm sure glad we weren't going that way today.)

Finally, and much farther south than I would ever have expected, the snow turned into rain.

Escondido Summit

Around Escondido Summit, the snow finally faded away, and there was nothing more but rain. The roads were still wet, but not icy, as we rolled down the highway, onto I-5, and then I-405.

We got to the LAX Marriott before sundown, which was a relief. We checked in, and a bellman worked with Lisa to take a cartload of our stuff up to our room while I parked. (I later moved into the parking garage to make it easier for us to move stuff back to the van when we leave on Sunday. I noticed that one day of self-parking at this hotel costs more than an entire four-day membership to Westercon 74.

After unpacking, Lisa and I registered for Loscon. There was no fan table reserved for Westercon 74 / CostumeCon 39, but Elayne Pelz at Registration told us than any unlabeled tables were available and directed me to go over to Operations and get a piece of paper and a marker and claim a table. Lisa and I set up the Westercon banner behind a convenient table and we then hung around for a few hours socializing with early arrivals.

Because of the adventure of the snowy drive, we ended up not having lunch today, so we went back to the hotel room and made sandwiches from the fixing we bought this morning. Big excitement, I know, but we had had enough. I worked on Westercon 74's responses to the SMOFCon convention questionnaire, and Lisa worked on getting her camera set up for some video we'll be shooting tomorrow. I'm glad we don't have to start early tomorrow.
Tags: lisa, loscon, snow, travel
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