February 26, 2007 GMT
The Ultimate Drive-Thru

I stopped for fuel at a small town and again was told of bad conditions to the south. I thought I'd try anyway as I could always turn round again. But I didn't have to, thank heavens - there was only torrential rain for the rest of the way - and am back in Mountain View to dry out, warm up and rest the shoulder.

Anyone who did Latin O-level remembers the Elks and Bison chapter in Caesar's Gallic Wars Book VI. According to Caesar, the elks have no knee joints, so in order to go to sleep an elk will prop itself against a tree. The crafty Gauls come along and saw halfway through the tree trunk so that when an elk leans against it the tree and the elk fall over and neither can get up again. Then the crafty Gauls come back, kill the elk, cook it and eat it.

Anyway, it was when the carpet of hailstones reached around an inch in depth that I decided to turn south again. Stopping wasn't possible without falling over, but luckily the road was wide and empty enough to do a gentle U-turn and retrace my tyre track.

I'd made it to about 60 miles short of the Oregon state line and was clearly not going any further. I managed as far south as Laytonville, through hail and snow, and when I was about to refuel a chap told me that there were blizzard conditions further south and I should stay put. So I did.

North was clearly out. So were east and west, with chains mandated for any lateral roads.

This morning the temperature was 30F, and there was snow mixed with hail. I headed south anyway, through patches of blizzard. This is US101, which is major-ish and thus has enough traffic to keep things sensible after the ploughs have been through.

Meanwhile, I had the opportunity to observe a herd of wild elks, and to drive through the trunk of an ancient redwood; it's called the Drive-Thru Tree. I saw a picture of that in an encyclopaedia when I was about eight years old.

Now, you know me and plans. However, a brief consultation with the Weather Channel has decided me. I'm continuing south, will dip into Mexico and back at some point so I can get another 90 days (the Dept. of Homeland Security no longer allows extensions), and head through the currently rather overactive tornado belt to the Carolinas. How's that sound?

Posted by Cynthia Milton at February 26, 2007 01:30 AM GMT

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