Our biennial trip to celebrate Christmas with my in-laws is a 738 mile, 13.5 hour trek covering almost the entire length of the state of California. Believe it or not, it’s a journey we actually look forward to and enjoy. Hitting the road for a trip of this length is always an adventure, holding the promise of unplanned for experiences and at least one good feast at In-n-Out Burger.
The drive itself is pretty straightforward, much of it through the very flat, very straight Central Valley. There is, however, a fair bit of mountain driving – through the Angeles National forest in Southern California and a stunning stretch from Redding to Mt. Shasta in the northernmost part of the state. Given the intense weather that rolled down the west coast in late December I was concerned that our drive through these areas would be challenging at best, especially if temperatures dipped and snow started to fall.
Having grown up and lived nearly my entire life in Southern California the most interesting driving challenge I’ve faced is getting stuck in the sand at our favorite beach. So, it is always with some trepidation that I consider having to drive on slushy, slippery mountain roads. And, it is always reassuring when I locate the dirty and dusty box of tire chains and make them the first thing I pack in the car.
While I don’t like the thought of needing those chains and I don’t like the idea of actually having to slog around in the cold and muck to put them on, I sure do like knowing that, if the conditions demand it, I have something to turn to so I can keep the journey going. The chains provide traction when there is none. The chains grip the road when the tires can’t do it alone. And, though I would always rather have clear sailing on calm seas the fact is that it just doesn’t work out that way. Ever.
We’ve all got journeys to make in the gift of this new year. Whatever you’ve resolved to do, wherever you plan to go, what are you packing for when the road gets rough? What or who will you turn to on the days when you just can’t keep your grip…when you lose traction…when you need a little help?
© 2010 David Berry