Monday, September 2, 2013

Donner Pass strikes again

From the time I arrived in Reno two days ago, the air has been thick with the smoke of California forest fires.  Yosemite burns; Reno chokes.  Even people who haven't just had knee-replacement surgery have been staying indoors, out of the haze. 

But this afternoon the wind shifted and cleared out all the smoke, leaving a lovely, clear afternoon.  Suddenly you could see that Reno is surrounded by mountains that might actually be pretty.  Lady suggested that Dad and I take the opportunity and head up to Donner Pass and nearby Lake Tahoe.

We jumped in the car and had barely made it across the California border when, BAM, we were stuck in a two-lane parking lot. 
Donner Pass, eh?  How long before we can start eating people?
For two hours we sat there, stopped or just barely inching forward, with no idea what was going on in front of us.  Later, after we got home, we learned that there had been a bad wreck involving an SUV and an RV trailer. 

Ironically, this same thing happened the last time I was on this stretch of road.  It was a gazillion years ago when I was a little kid; we had all piled into the family station wagon on our way to San Francisco to spend Thanksgiving with the Grandparents (or maybe we were returning), and as we neared Donner Pass we found ourselves in an hours-long traffic jam.  I don't remember for sure how long we sat, but I remember being in the "way back" of the station wagon, drawing signs on pieces of paper that we held up to drivers going the other direction, with dire warnings of 5-hour waits ahead. 

Not surprisingly, Dad and I talked about that very trip and agreed that we needed to get off the road, stat.  We inched our way along and, after a long time, came upon a middle-of-nowhere exit that had an on-ramp going the other direction.  Gleefully we took the exit and hurried home.  Donner Pass and Lake Tahoe would have to wait for another time.

It's too bad to have missed seeing the natural wonders of the area, but the drive turned out to be a wind-fall for conversation.  It was good to talk to Dad about family and life and other surprisingly serious, grown-up things.  Living, as I do, on my own on the other side of the country, I don't often get such opportunities to talk with my parents one-on-one.  We talk on the phone, but it's not the same as talking in person.  As much as I love the glitz and adventure of my other world travels, I'm also deeply grateful for these simple, grounding moments I can spend with my parents, learning from their wisdom and enjoying their friendship. 


The Atomic Mom said...

I love your parents, they are such great people. But, when I saw your facebook post about being at Donner Pass...I just about fell off my chair. You are so funny!

Mary said...

It's nice to have one-on-one time with the folks. My parents are leaving (on Thursday!) for a mission in Peru, so I won't have that chance again for quite some time!