Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's Always Something

Joan and I got our confirmation email from Amazon scheduling us to attend orientation Wednesday the 24th. With the wonderful temps here in Nevada we decided we would take a quick trip to Yosemite before we started work. We left Sunday with temps in the 60's. After driving a couple of hours we arrived in Lee Vining just west of Tioga Pass. We stopped for lunch at Whoa Nellie Deli and I noticed the gas prices next door...


Fortunately we had filled up in Sparks so we continued on our way through Tioga Pass.

Tioga Pass

Absolutely beautiful. The temps dropped into the 40's as we climbed to the summit at 9943'. We drove along higway 120 through Yosemite and decided to get a room on the west side of the park in Mariposa, CA before we explored more of the park on Monday.

If you look close you'll see the snow on the
mountain tops further down the valley

When we woke up Monday it had begun to rain as a winter storm was crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We drove into Yosemite Valley hoping to get a glimpse of Half Dome, El Capitan and the other wonderful sites. Alas it was not to be. The clouds were very low and we could only see 100' - 200' up the slopes of the surrounding mountains.

Low Clouds, Short Vistas
Wish We Could Have Seen More

We decided to head home and headed back towards Tioga Pass. At least that was our plan until we started to see snow along the roads and in the surrounding trees. After marveling at the sights and taking lots of pics we called the Traffic Update phone line and discovered that Tioga Pass was closed due to snowfall, so we started checking the other pass's....Sonora Pass; closed unless you had snow chains or 4-wheel drive with snow tires (what are the chances a pair of newby Floridians would have snowchains?). So we checked on the next pass...Ebberts Pass; closed without 4-wheel drive or snow was the next pass Luther Pass. What that means (to the folks back home in Florida) is that all the roads across the Sierra Nevadas to the east and our shorter route home were not an option for us. We would have to drive about 150 miles north to just east of Sacramento and pick up I-80 to return to Sparks. The traffic line stated that I-80 was open.  We found a scenic road that would get us where we wanted to go and headed out.

The drive was pleasant but long. Except that the temps were in the 50's I would have loved to have been on the bike. Nice curvy scenic roads through the mountains and valleys and great pavement.....this drive is going on my 'To Do' list one day in the future. We got to I-80 and turned east towards home.

We were traveling along just fine climbing in elevation as we headed towards Donner Pass. Then we started to notice snow in the trees. Then snow on the ground and along the sides of the roads....and it was getting deeper as we drove further. Apparently it had snowed quite a bit overnight. Traffic was getting slower and slower. The temps continued to drop into the 20's as we climbed.

We started to notice the truck drivers and local entrepreneurs stopped along the interstate installing snow chains. The roadway was wet but there were still lots of cars continuing without chains so we followed along. I knew I would need to stop for gas before we got home so we started looking for a place to pull off. The snow was over a foot deep along the exits and I didn't want to pull off only to get stuck. Then just before the pass (did I say Donner Pass?) traffic was being stopped and checked. Only vehicles with 4-wheel drive or snow chains were being allowed to continue. I guess things had gotten a little worse since we had called the traffic information line.

It's always something! Snowchains
We pulled off and into a Shell station. We filled up with gas and noticed all the people stopped and either installing or buying snow chains. It was a madhouse. Joan was really concerned when someone pulled up next to us and then began to slide as they tried to maneuver their car. Our options were to A - turn around drive back towards Sacramento looking for a motel hoping the pass would be open Tuesday, or B - buy snow chains and attempt the pass (I did say Donner Pass didn't I?). We opted for option B.

The situation being what it was, the gas station was the only place to get their prices weren't what we would hope to find at Walmart or NAPA. The chains went on and we headed out at 35 mph. We climbed our way through the pass and a few miles down the road we removed the chains before continuing our way home.

On Wednesday we reported to Amazon at 6:45am (yes I said AM) for orientation. We took a tour of the facility; attended presentations and watched short films to ensure we understood what Amazon was all about. We signed our employment contracts and got our job assignments. Joan and I will be working Shift 7 (Fri - Mon) 7am-5:30pm in Shipping. We met two other workampers who are staying in our RV park and work the same shift. We're going to be carpooling as the drive is 30 miles one way. The temps tonight are forecast to be in the 20's so it will be a cold start when we leave for work Friday morning. We're headed out to run some errands and pick up some cold weather supplies to insulate our water line.

Stay Tuned. More to Come.


  1. Wow! Pretty exciting! Can't wait to hear about your Amazon adventures.

  2. Whew! Sounds like a white-knuckled drive. Glad you made it okay.

  3. Donner Pass is a bear and has been for many years. Yes, that Donner Pass. You're lucky you got through.

    Sure sounds like this year is going to be nastier weather-wise than last year. We didn't have any snow until February. It was COLD, but no snow until after our Amazon gig was over.

  4. Yuck on the snow! Don't ever want to see that stuff again!

  5. Great pictures! Too bad you did not get to see Yosemite. The snow looks pretty on the trees, not so much on the roads. Glad you both made it back home safe and sound. Have fun at being an Amazon Elf!

  6. Glad you made it through the snow and back to your orientation. We're working for Amazon in Coffeyville, Kansas. It will be interesting to compare your experience in Fernley. Are they making you have a hardening week by working half days the first week? That's something new they're doing here.

  7. Don't feel bad. Every time I have tried to go to Yosemite, the roads had just been closed too. I went over that pass about 20 times last winter delivering Motorhomes for the dealer I worked for. It can get nasty, yep. Try it with a Pusher LOL. (OK, .... DON'T)

    Glad you are doing well and having great adventures! If ya'd stayed would be seeing white too!

  8. Life can be exciting sometimes. Glad you made it through. It's in the 90's in San Deigo. Oh just a thought about those water pipes, fill up your fresh water tank just incase the pipes do freeze. Stay warm and safe.