We woke up, grabbed coffee and made sure everything was ready. Then, just before 10:00 a.m. we said goodbye to our good neighbor and headed off down I-80 to Highway 99.
There were some clouds in the sky, but a lot of blue, too, and we made good time, stopping for lunch in Fresno. As we headed further south, dark clouds began to gather to the west and east. They finally covered the sky ahead of us too, and about 20 miles outside of Bakersfield the mist turned into serious rain. We were planning on stopping at the Bakersfield Costco for gas, but about 8 miles north the traffic stopped almost completely and the creeped along at 5 – 10 mph. The fuel low warning light came on and we had to stop for gas. $40.00 at Arco didn’t fill the tank, and we detoured around the congestion by taking surface streets and topped off the tank at Costco.
With the rain coming down and the mountains to the southeast hidden behind black clouds we briefly considered staying in Bakersfield for the night, but decided to see if we could make it to Mojave. The climb out of the San Joaquin Valley wound through beautiful green hills dappled with wind turbines that were whirling like crazily spinning daisies. Shafts of sunlight cut through the dark clouds like stage spotlights. The rain grew with intensity. Near Tahatchape Pass, the rain transformed into occasional wafts of snowflakes which grew heavier after the summit and actually gathered themselves into a mild ground blizzard for a mile or two.
As we dropped out of the pass and into the desert near Mojave, the rain stopped, although dark walls of cloud shrouded the east and west. With the weather still threatening, we decided that setting up camp probably wouldn’t be very pleasant under those conditions, so we made a reservation for a motel in Barstow and continued to the southeast. Along with darkness, came waves of heavy rain that obscured the lights of oncoming traffic.
When we stopped at the traffic light where 58 intersects 395, a semi-rig driver pulled up alongside and told us our trailer running and taillights were not working. A brief venture into the pouring rain to push the connector all the way back in, solved that problem.
We finally reached Barstow around 8:30, checked into our RodeWay Inn, and unhooked the trailer. The wind was blowing, the rain was falling, and as I bent over to disconnect the safety chains, the sky gave me a cheery hello by tossing some freshly made hail down the back of my neck. Diana and I pushed the teardrop into a parking space and hustled into our room to warm up.
After a quick trip to the supermarket across the street, we microwaved some dinner and relaxed.
So the first day of our trip is safely completed, with some spectacular scenery and most of the major weather groups. We are officially underway and so far we have been able to handle everything the road throws at us. Time for bed now. Goodnight!
[Diana’s Version of Day 1 — Steve drives, pumps gas, braves wind and rain to fix lights, gets snacks when I’m hungry, checks into the motel, unhooks the trailer and gets soaked by the sleet while I sit inside wearing my lovely purple raincoat with the pleated hood. I am either married to a compulsive choleric or a saintly knight. I choose saintly knight!]