I mentioned in the last post that I made the drive from Seattle to Phoenix for the holidays. As usual, I left the packing until the last day, and then I started double- and triple-checking what I’d need for worst case scenarios. Tire gauge, food, water, a new portable battery jumper that didn’t work the first time I tried it, matches, sleeping bag, etc. I left my apartment several hours later than planned, which nearly got me into trouble at the Snoqualmie Pass. It was raining everywhere at lower elevations, so as I headed east on I90 I remembered that the pass sometimes closes in winter.
Sure enough, it was snowing as the Subaru climbed the Cascades. “Chains required all cars.” I pulled off to get some coffee and ask about the pass. The woman working the counter was looking at her phone and pulled up the information right away. She told me that a few people had told her they needed to chain up. I presumed coming from the east, because we were a ways away from the chain-up (word?) areas. She comped me the coffee.
I got back in the car and did some quick research. The chain warnings are a little confusing. In some cases, the chain warning doesn’t apply to vehicles with AWD or 4WD. I think the expectation, though, is that even those vehicles will have chains in case the weather worsens. I figured I could make it, but that the window was closing. I don’t drive that way very often (obviously), and I wasn’t sure how quickly the pass could alternate between closed and open. If I had to turn around and head south on I5, my timetable was hosed. Turned out fine, and spent the night in snowy Yakima.
I wrote down some more notes about the trip, but I don’t see myself putting them together in anything more exciting that a list of thens – and then I continued east, and then turned south, and then turned east again. The wide open, rugged spaces of eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona deserve better than that. If you get a chance to drive that way, do it. And then write about it, I’d like to read it.
Here are some photos from the trip. They’re nothing special, but I like them. In one of the pictures you can see that something is on my lens or the sensor. It was the sensor. If you use a digital camera, f/16 can be really helpful in identifying dirt or debris on your sensor or lens. Set the aperture to f/16 and focus against a solid background with plenty of light. Things will show right up (sometimes ignorance is bliss). I bought a small sensor cleaning kit at Tempe Camera, but I think it was something resting on the sensor. I used the air blowy thing; I think it worked. I know that’s heresy for some people – you’re just blowing whatever’s in there further into the sensor compartment.