What an adventure! Jenney got a contract in Austin Texas for her next position doing traveling Occupational Therapy, so we packed up the new Subaru Forester (new to us) and started the long trek from Grand Junction, Colorado to Austin, Texas.
Now it hadn’t snowed much at all in Colorado while we were there, but wouldn’t it so happen that the day we decide to leave, a huge storm is forecasted to come through! So we set out as early Monday morning as we could (still had a little cleaning to do) and started on our way. It was too far outside of GJ that it started to flurry, and before we arrived in Ouray, we had passed through some areas with some pretty substantial snowfall. But Ouray there was not much of anything on the ground, and the highway pass through the Redridge Mountains was not closed. So even though there was a sign that commercial vehicles were required to have chains, we went against our better judgement and started up the mountain pass instead of staying in Ouray, at the hotspring hotel, like we should have.
The mountains were amazing! Sheer cliff walls and narrow roads all covered in freshly fallen snow… and it kept getting deeper the higher we went. We were listening to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack on our way up, but when I went around a bend and the back of the car slid just the slightest bit, we turned off the majestic but suspenseful music.
We continued up the mountain pass at a whopping 15MPH and when we came to Silverton we decided to keep going. There were some plows on the road, and there were other vehicles traveling, so we thought we could chance it. We made it almost to Durango when I made a slip in judgement, and was going 20MPH instead of 15MPH coming up on a turn, and the vehicle started to slide as I applied the brakes. We slid off the road, still going quite slow, and took out the front passenger side headlight on a tree. The car bounced to the left and the back end of the car then hit the same spot taking out some of the plastic of the rear brake light and bending up my rear bike wheel which was hitched to the bike rack on the back of the car.
The car stalled, I cursed and pounded the steering wheel, Jenney remained quiet.
I got out of the car to inspect the damage, bent the front side panel back down into place, and got back in the car, kicking the snow from my feet. the car took a couple tries to start, but the engine sounded fine. The damage was completely superficial and since we had all wheel drive, the Subaru pulled right out of the snow bank.
We headed the rest of the way to Durango barely going over 15MPH the rest of the way. Talk about trepidation! When we got to Durango, we stopped at a gas station to get some gas, and I asked the cashier if she had heard the forecast. She said they were due to have about 13inches. I asked if there was a way out of Durango that did not involve mountains. She said she didn’t know of any. So we drove around town a little while and decided to bunker down at the Adobe hotel, which offerred us an ‘early snow rate’ of $40/night.
While we were settling in there, Jenney checked her messages and called back her recruiter who informed her that her contract in Austin had been cancelled! Talk about a depressing day. Stressful snowstorm trek through the precarious mountain pass, damage to our new car, stuck in a snow storm in a town we had not planned on being in and new next to nothing about, and now we were on our way to a job that did not exists.
We stayed in Durango for two nights and checked out the town. Walking through the snow was an adventure for Jenney. Coming from San Diego and being a Cali girl most of her life, she had never experienced a foot of snow before and it was very endearing how her face would light up and she made a snow ball, or a little snow man, or fell backwards in the snow to make a snow angel. She also found that it took a bit of skill to actually walk in the snow ;)
On Wednesday the sun came out and we decided to try our luck getting the heck out of Dodge… err.. Durango. What we found was that the roads weren’t so bad and the mountains were no where near as bad as the ones we had come in through, so we probably could have pushed through. But, better safe then sorry - and we didn’t want to push our luck any more than we already had. So we are glad we waited.
We made it so Santa Fe, New Mexico and decided to stay there for the evening. We still had a headlight out (garages in Durango didn’t have the parts available) so we decided no driving at night. We found a wonderful bed and breakfast on Manhattan St. and after getting settled, wandered around town for a while. Nice town, found some good beer, but the highlight was the fireplace and bed at the bed and breakfast. We awoke the next morning so refreshed and much less stressed from the ordeal through the mountains and Durango.
We headed out around 9am, after breakfast, and got all the way to Post, Texas where we decided on another bed and breakfast. It was only a fraction more than a local chain motel and much cleaner and homey. It was a historical building and I cold work in comfort and we slept quite well.
In the morning we got up early and were on the road by 7:30am, making it to Austin by about 1:30pm. We found a hotel as our basecamp to start the apartment hunt and after two days of exploring Austin and searching for temporary housing, we’re now staying in some guy’s camper that he keeps in his driveway. It’s clean, safe, and cheap. A much cheaper home base for now until we figure out what is going on with Jenney’s job and where we’re going to actually be for the next few months.