Thursday, November 11, 2010

Highway of Death

I thought I was working today, a one-day thing in Incline Village, so I got up early to head over the mountains to Tahoe. ~C and Zach will laugh at this post - all the locals are totally blasé about this stuff.

Do you read travel adventure books? You know how the author invariably ends up in a third-world mountainous country, trying to get from City A to City B via what the local government considers to be a highway? It's a too-narrow road, with buses, trucks, motorbikes, and ancient little third-world-country cars all zooming up and down it at top speed. There are numerous shrines to victims of the road, usually bus plunges (named for the typical headline in the NYT: "bus plunge in Paraguay kills at least 37"). The natives are so numb to the death all around them that they take the highway like it's a NASCAR oval, while the author whimpers and pees his/her pants in terror.

I am the author, and Mount Rose Highway is my bus plunge road. It is the twistiest awfulist switchback nightmare. Two lanes, with semis roaring up and down it, angry commuters inches off your bumper, and bicyclists. Fucking bikes! I am all for sharing the road and bike commuting and crazy endurance biking hobbies, but there are some roads that aren't SAFE to share, and that's one of them.

There are no bike lanes, so you'll come whipping around a corner with a line of cars inches from your bumper, and there's a half-dead gasping wobbling biker on the white line and a logging truck riding the yellow line screaming toward you and you realize this is it, you're done for. You suck in all the muscles of your body like you can make your pickup narrower by holding your breath and somehow squeak between the two. Slam your foot back down on the gas, because that asshole in the Yaris is even closer now, and get ready for another turn...

Look! Look at this ridiculous bullshit! This is 3000' feet of elevation gain in about 4 as-the-crow-flies miles. The only way you know you're still in America is the nice asphalt and towering 8' snow poles.

So anyway, I got up extra early and drove all the way through town and got on Mt. Death Highway and headed up it. Then I saw the chain signs. Yes, the scrolling text sign warned me that I'd have to chain up in 11 miles. I slammed on the brakes and made the quickest U-turn of my life. I have chains, in the garage at home, but there is NOTHING in Tahoe important enough for me to chain up and take Mt. Rose Highway.

Fortunately, when I called my temp agency to tell them I was going to be late, they double-checked and informed me that I'm a week early. The Incline Village job is next week.


  1. Dude- Funder- you found yourself America's version of IRT's Deadliest Highways huh?

    Dayum girl!

    I believe you will understand the meaning of "a$$hole sucking seatcover" completely now huh? ;)

    Stay safe!

  2. Wouldn't it just be easier/safer to take the interstate and double back? Especially since you're coming from the north side of town?
    btw--Do you ever have the chance to go through "Sierraville" north of Truckee? Is there still a little Girl Scout camp there?

  3. ES - the Cal DOT, in its infinite wisdom, has the first 10 miles of I-80 in California down to one lane. It's unbelievably slow. But that's what I'll do next week, probably.

    I've seen the highway signs for Sierraville, but I haven't been there. I'm sure it's stunningly beautiful! What a great place to get sent to summer camp!

  4. oh and MM - OMG I just looked that up. I must see this show! If only I knew how to turn the TV on... too many remotes. Must ask G to DVR it.

  5. Hah! The WA DOT has Snoqualomie Pass down to one lane too!

    Actually, I worked as a wrangler at Camp "Treasure Mountain" back in the summer of 1972 (?). The aroma of sage tea takes me right back there to the trail out of camp towards the mountains...

  6. haha yes! classic! I hate that highway, have to drive it when i take my SAT's in mid January. that will be fun

  7. I know nothing about the interstates and highways up in your neck of the woods, but I can easily say HELL NO to that little stretch of highway!

    Hope you find a better way!

  8. Very funny! Yikes, what a drive.

  9. OMG I have been on that road and I know what you mean - it's horrible! I was in an airport shuttle van, and the driver was a total maniac - at 1 am with icy roads. Not to mention all those twists and turns - I thought I was gonna be sick.

    Drive super careful and be safe next week!

  10. ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL!!!! =) You drove it with me this summer on the way to Tevis, did you block that from your mind then? I was driving it a lot this year with the stupid ass construction on I-80. I've even very seriously considered going that way with the trailer. It takes as long for me to get to Truckee going up Mt. Rose as it does to go through town and up I-80, and I think it's a much NICER drive! =)

  11. You have my full and undivided sympathy, unlike these callous sn*w-mongers. Bah.

  12. i learned something important driving in the cascades. if a road says "closed in winter" it is by no means a pleasant drive in the middle of summer with a horse trailer.

  13. *dies* @ Asshole sucking seatcover.

    LMAO Nothing like being late a week early.

  14. Oh Funder, I feel your pain. I know these roads. I've been on a few in the mountains of CA and CO. It SUCKS, and it's exhausting to drive them.

  15. Glad it wasn't me, and sorry it was you!

  16. Found your blog through a friend. Adding you to my watch list :) Thought I'd leave a comment about it.

  17. haha - i bet the temp agency was cracking up!

    but TELL me about that stupid highway! the second to last time I drove it, I was in a truck that had no pickup, i.e. I had a line of sportscars about hitting my bumper, and had to pull over every half mile to let the angry drivers pass me. then by the time I pulled back onto the road and got going to 'speed' again, I had more angry yuppie drivers on my butt.

    last time I was drove it I was driving a heavy car with bad brakes. it would roar on like a freight train if I let up on the brakes at all. by the time I got to incline village on the other side, my brakes were smelling up the whole town.

    you can HAVE that highway!

    oh and Crysta you are NUTS taking a trailer on that highway!!!!!!

    - The Equestrian Vagabond


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