Yesterday we drove home from Lake Tahoe, and, with inspiration I can describe as well-intentioned but mistaken in retrospect, decided to take US-50 instead of I-80 (on which we’d driven to Tahoe). Here’s the route:
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The whole point of the last-minute Tahoe trip was to get some snow, which we missed completely on the New Year’s road trip. So, says I, checking the Caltrans road conditions site, US-50 seems to be clear with no restrictions and it’s the scenic route. Let’s try that.
We got as far as South Lake Tahoe and then, wow, sudden stop. I rechecked Caltrans and saw that chains were now required for a portion of highway 50 through Eldorado National Forest. Since we were in Jennifer‘s Subaru Forester, with full-time all-wheel drive, we didn’t actually need to install the chains but had purchased some just in case some well-meaning CHP officer insisted we have them.
I really didn’t know what was holding up traffic, but later I determined that we covered the next 25 miles in a little under five hours. It wasn’t accidents, though there were a few. It wasn’t severe weather, as that didn’t start until we were well up in the mountains. It wasn’t chain-on areas—those were pretty well organized off to the side and not really blocking the road. I think it was mostly just volume of traffic combined with less than competent drivers. Think of how badly the average person drives in the rain, and then double or triple that for snow and ice conditions.
Anyway, Jennifer was driving so I was fiddling with my phone—Tweeting, checking road conditions, getting news, the usual. For some very odd reason, although I had good coverage through most of the drive, my Tweets didn’t arrive until many hours later and, of course, were all out of order. I’ve reassembled the correct timeline here:
The trip home took around eight hours, and for comparison it was fewer than four to get there on I-80. But hey, snow!