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After a quick trip to Reno, Truckee was the next stop where my friend Hayley who lives in El Paso was visiting her parents.  Both of her parents are avid skiers with season passes to Northstar.  I skied a day with Hayley who did some knuckle dragging around the icy slopes.  This part of the trip is where the REAL van incidents occurred.


Before our day on the slopes, I went to her parent’s place and was told to “get a run at the driveway”.  That driveway was steep and with my half-way worn El Paso tires I only made it half way up….and then slid backwards….into the ditch….about a foot from the telephone pole.  A board, a jack, and some salt got me out no problem.  I weaseled my way into their neighbor’s driveway and slept kind of crooked that night.  The next day, while unloading the neighbor’s driveway, the van suddenly started sliding backwards.  I just stood there and watched as it finally came to rest about 3 feet from a planter and a tree.

That evening I busted over Donner Pass to visit my old friend and former REI employee Chris McGovern.  He’s now building gorgeous carbon bikes under the McGovern name and he is the US national cyclocross coach.  I wanted to visit him because he had a Quadvan conversion done on his Ford Transit.  The first big atmospheric river (Pineapple Express) was rolling in and traffic was bumper to bumper from the bay area to Reno.  Google sent me over old Donner Pass (Hwy 140) and I beat the snow.  Then I met the traffic – and it was slow.  By the time I pulled off I-80 to head to Nevada City, plows were everywhere and snow was accumulating quickly.  About a half mile off the interstate lights were flashing and the chain monkeys were working hard.  I blew through it….and barely made it.  Lots of fishtailing ensued but I let traction control do its thing and eventually I was at a lower elevation and rolled into Chris’s place well before bedtime.  Quick tours of vans and work space happened and I really wish I had taken some pics, because Chris is getting kind of famous. Soon after I was back on the road to Georgetown where I made it to my brother’s place after bedtime but before the snow accumulated too much in his area.

My plan was to spend a day at my bro’s, then head to Kirkwood for what was guaranteed to be a giant powder day.  That meant that I needed to figure out my chains.  And sure enough, they didn’t fit.  New chains were purchased as well as rubber tensioners (never use chains without tensioners and never buy chains from Amazon).  A day was spent with one of his friends driving to a hill to do some sledding….a lot of work when there is a couple of feet of powder.

The next day I left for Kirkwood slightly behind schedule when about an hour or so away from the resort, I ran into this.


Notice how clear the road is up until this point.  I didn’t have cell service in that location, so I looked at my atlas and picked a route back and around.  I ended up having to chain up and didn’t get to the resort until noon.  It was all good though as there was plenty of powder to be had and I needed to pay some dues in the chopped up stuff anyway.

Leaving Kirkwood I pulled a total Texan move and lost control of the van, sliding into a mount of snow and taking out a pole of some sort.  A minute or two of shoveling and I was back at it.  Plows and blowers were everywhere.


I needed to get to Bridgeport to meet my friend Tim.  I knew he was tired and waiting for me and I drove as fast as I could (like 30 mph in chains).