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Stranded at the Flying J in Corning, California

© By Joei Carlton Hossack
  It's 1,400 miles from Surrey, B.C. to San Diego, California, and it takes four days drive, five at the most. I arrived on the eighth day.
     By 10 a.m., I scampered over the border, picked up mail at my PO Box in Blaine, Washington, fuelled up and was on the highway, making it all the way to Portland, Oregon before darkness set in. All night, my camper was battered with rain and a good stiff breeze (foreshadowing); nevertheless, I headed south in the rain, worried about Grant's Pass; however, to my delight, the rain stopped down the road, the sun came out, and it was still early, so I headed over the mountain to the town of Medford on a quest for sunshine.
     I pulled into the campground, less than a mile off the highway, paid for a small back-in site near the showers and walked out of the office, carrying a fistful of paperwork. I plugged in my electricity and connected the cable TV. I turned on my refrigerator and set my portable heater on low before accessing my phone. Ah, the sweet life of the RV'er!
     In the morning, I felt better, since I allowed my heater to run all night, resulting in a sound sleep. Coffee was served in the lounge as I wandered in to find the host and anther camper discussing the approaching storm. We checked the weather channel on the office computer. The mountain passes appeared clear; it was an hour to the first pass and three hours to the second. The manager suggested that I enjoyed a four-hour weather window. "But, if you don't leave now, you won't get out for days. There are three storms coming, one after another." That sounded ominous.
     It was nine a.m. and since the storm wasn't supposed to start until early afternoon, I cleaned up my camper and bravely headed out. The temperature was 34.9 degrees. Rain began to fall as I stopped for fuel in town, but by Medford, it had stopped raining. I started the climb to the Siskiyou Pass. It was dark at the bottom, raining again as I climbed to the summit and the blowing snow at the top. A sign read: "4,319 feet - the highest point on the I-5." I had climbed it and felt as light and airy as a climber on top of Everest. The second summit would be a breeze, I thought. (hubris)
     I headed towards Yreka, California. In rain, (of course) I started climbing the Cascades, the rain changing and coalescing to snow that hit the windshield with loud splats - heavy, wet clumps sticking to the windshield forcing me every few minutes to open the window, stick out my arm and scoop away the debris.
     I followed a truck in front of me at twenty miles per hour and remained a good distance back, daring not to pass. A crash on the windshield suddenly shook me as a block of heavy snow slid off the front of my camper onto the passenger side with a thump. The wiper blade was not able to clear it off. It scraped away slowly, tackling layer by layer.

 

     It took two hours to drive over the 3,916-foot summit and start down the other side. Three miles of a 6% grade, five miles of a 5% grade, two miles of 6% grade. I breathed easier at the 3,000-foot level and much easier at the 2,000-foot level. Less than a mile later, there was a large turn-off with a couple of trucks parked so I wheeled into the parking lot and stopped. I wanted to cheer, kiss the ground and holler "whoopee!" It never occurred to me that they had closed the road while I was still on it.
     Twenty-two miles from Redding, the rain stopped, but I struggled to keep my camper on the highway with wind gusts now at 80-100 miles per hour. Finally, I pulled off, turned left, then left again easing into the Flying J parking lot. It was not quite four o'clock. It had taken 6.5 hours to drive 220 miles! Backing into a parking spot, I noticed a mint-green VW bug parked across three parking spots in the row in front of me. A young woman who was carrying a license plate handed it to me, its owner, a BC plate with an October, 08 sticker on it. It had flown off at the last turn, even the license plate wanting to jump ship.
     I was starving, thirsty and exhausted but relieved. Purchasing a 20 oz half decaf/half regular cup of coffee, I sipped sweetly. At 6 p.m., I entered the restaurant for dinner, immediately waved over by Gary, a camper I had met that morning. We were relieved to see each other relatively unscathed. He introduced me to his wife, Sharon, and we enjoyed dinner together. Their trip over the pass had been worse than mine. The police stopped all vehicles making them put on chains or turn back. Gary was pulling a large 5th wheel trailer, and a car lost control in front of him, providing more drama.
     I was stranded here for three days. The trip is 1,400 miles from Surrey, B.C. to San Diego, California and should take four days, five at most. I arrived on the eighth day; however, I arrived safely.

Joei Carlton Hossack is the author of (1) Everyone's Dream Everyone's Nightmare (2) Kiss This Florida, I'm Outta Here (3) A Million Miles from Home (4) Alaska Bound and Gagged (5) Free Spirit - Born to Wander and (6) Chasing the Lost Dream. She is an entertaining and inspirational speaker specializing in world travel and writing/publishing and promotion. She can be reached at JoeiCarlton@Hotmail.com & www.joeicarlton.com. Joei is extremely well known in the RV community. She lives and thrives in a 10-foot truck camper. When off the truck, it sits on 4 electric jacks (1 at each corner). The camper sits in the bed of an F-250, 3/4 ton diesel truck.

Photo Credits
California Tourism

If you go
This Destination
as seen on
YouTube
Corning, California: http://www.corning.org/
Medford: http://www.ci.medford.or.us/
Siskiyou Mountains: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siskiyou_Mountains
The Cascade Range: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascade_Range
The Flying J: http://www.flyingj.com/
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corning,_California
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Corning_(California)

What's happening, money, distance, time?
Media Guide: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/

Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/


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