Driving there also means driving back. We were on a timeline for driving back, since we both needed to be at work. We followed the GPS, and it (and the Waze app) both indicated that a slightly different route back to Colorado than we had taken out would be the fastest and most efficient. This involved a number of secondary roads, but in Texas, you can still drive highway speeds on them. So, no worries.
Until we came to a dead stop on a two lane road in the middle of nowhere, two miles outside the bustling metropolis of Channing, Texas.
After seeing nearly no traffic for an hour, we were suddenly confronted with a quarter-mile long backup. Cars, in a more rapid fashion than I would have expected, given the remote nature of where we were, lined up behind us.
I got out. I walked. I looked. I'm still not sure what was going on, but there was definitely an 18-wheeler parked perpendicular to the road, blocking both lanes and the ditch. It wasn't turned over, jack-knifed, or otherwise obviously impaired, but there it was.
People were napping in their cars. This was obviously going to be a while, and we were on a time frame.
Eric got out the chase laptop (yes, we have a computer for storm chasing), and pulled up his mapping software.
Not terribly far behind us was a road! A county road that connected to another road that would take us - albeit in a circular manner, around the accident site and finally back on route through Channing.
Should we do it? Sure! Beats just sitting here!
U-Turn, and away we go. The first road was a country road paralleling train tracks, it was dirt, but well-groomed and obviously used, although we didn't see anyone else on it.
Then we had to make a right-hand turn. Through a gate. Through a gate with a sign "Welcome to Queen Seia Ranch."
We stopped. Umm, are we allowed to drive on this?
I don't know.
Well, there isn't a "no trespassing" sign. And it's on the map.
Let's do it (that's me talking.)
Eric took off. I was in charge of navigating, but on the computer this was a straight shot, but on his GPS, there were "roads' diverging off the path, which resulted in Eric hollering "WHICH WAY??" at intervals, while I was trying to figure out just what the heck he was talking about, since I didn't see another road on the map OR outside!
We quickly realized that a road on a ranch is not to be taken lightly. Little more than dry riverbed in places, the road careens through a valley for 9.8 of the longest miles we've ever driven, up and down through rocky country. Eric at some point, decided that, since this WAS Texas, there was a pretty good likelihood that we could get shot at for driving through this land.
So he gunned it and drove like a mad man. He didn't tell me this concern until after we were through (sorry, spoiler alert, we made it), so I was left wondering and biting my tongue that we were hurtling through the Texas plains like a rocket ship in a asteroid field.
At one point I yelled "look out for the cow!"
It was ranch land after all. There was a cow in the middle of the road, and two more alongside. Eric slammed on the brakes and we avoided having another Hail Yes moment.
|The better part of the "road."
There were also jackrabbits that, I kid you not, were the size of dogs. At least two of those came close to biting it.
Three miles in to the 9.9 mile slog, Eric wondered aloud what we were going to do if the gate on the other end of the road was locked.
3.5 miles in, he asked how much farther we had to go (a LONG way.)
We finally made it to the gate for our next right hand turn. It was open (phew.)
The road, at first, was a little flatter, and Eric took off again for the next 8 mile leg.
|Poor Hula Dude. I'm pretty sure he wet his skirt on this drive.
The road didn't stay flat.
As we raced through what had become a mini-canyon, complete with a mud bog with hit doing who-knows-what-speed to keep our momentum through it instead of stuck in it, the anxiety of running through territory where our "legal status" was a bit suspect (Eric later confirmed that, fortunately, we were ok to drive in that area, phew!), turned to the giggles.
It was at about that point where we went momentarily airborne. I'm not sure I've ever been in a car with all four wheels off the ground at the same time, but, I guess there's a first for everything.
The crunch of the bottoming out at we landed was not so much fun. Fortunately, nothing broke.
As we finally crossed through the final gate, and back on to a paved road, we looked at each other.
In a moment of perfect seriousness, I said...
"I hope them boys make it!"
A little later I commented, "I think we just starred in our own Subaru commercial!"
I think we laughed the rest of the way back to Colorado.
|Eric Kelly: Modern Day Duke of Hazzard.