After two long years of planning & delays, it's here: the Grand Canyon is right around the corner. After a bit of a hectic flight (delays going into an already-very-tight connection in Frankfurt), I'm in the US with Iselin & Eivind. Even better: we're staying with JB for a few days! This gives us some time to do last-minute shopping runs, get over any jetlag that we might have, and socialize. There's only one problem: he lives in Colorado -- about a 12-hour drive to Lees Ferry.
Oh well, that's no problem for a couple of American drivers!
Well, there's a small problem in that there's some snow in the forecast. Oh well, that's no problem for a big American pickup truck!
So, we loaded up our stuff (wow it's a lot of stuff!) and hit the road. As we approached the mountains, it didn't take long for us to run into the storm.
The weather came and went over the next few hours. Sometimes, the roads were looking pretty grim, but sometimes the weather broke and we had beautiful sights.
Our destination for the night was a hotel in Page, AZ. Around 5pm, the conditions worsened a bit. However, the roads were fairly empty and if we dropped our speed, it wasn't too bad. We were also in the middle of nowhere, so we pushed on.
At about 7:30pm, we were driving along and a pair of oncoming headlights suddenly veered towards us. Jonathan said "What's this guy doing??" and swerved as far to the right as the road would allow us to go -- but it wasn't far enough.
We got pushed off the road, sliding sideways and tilting up. We came to a rest, thankfully remaining rubber-side down, as they say. We did a quick check of ourselves - no one was hurt, no glass was broken, no airbags were deployed. Jonathan got on the phone and called 911 while Eivind and I hopped out and ran down the road to check on the other car.
She was in a little sedan, the shoulder on our side of the road, a few hundred meters down the road. She was terrified and on the phone with someone - I believe it was her boyfriend. We checked that she was physically okay, and she seemed to be (though deeply in shock). Her car was a bit worse off, at least for the conditions: her window was shattered and her door was crumpled. Her airbag had deployed, which I'm sure was part of her shock.
With that in order, it was time to go back to the truck and see if we had any updates. On this hike back, it started to sink in that this was no bueno. Not only were were due in Lees Ferry tomorrow, but we're on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere, with two totaled cars, a ton of gear, in a snowstorm, and it's around 15ºF. Oh well, one thing at a time.
Jonathan had called the police, and they were about 45 minutes away. In the meantime, we took out our sleeping bags and got to work trying to stay warm (I always find it surprising how quickly cars lose heat). I also got on the phone and started making plans for the river. We had some people (with trucks) in Lees Ferry already. However, they weren't willing to drive 2+ hours, in the dark, during a snowstorm, in an area with a large DUI problem to come pick us up. That was probably a wise choice, but that it was still annoying. We had no idea where we (and our gear) would be spending the night, so we settled in to play it by ear.
Eventually, everyone was there: the fire department, the ambulance, the police. Well, almost everyone: there still wasn't a tow truck. And no one really knew which of the two reservation tow trucks would be showing up. The best case for us would be the one from Tuba City, because there's a hotel there (and it's closer to Lees Ferry). However, how exactly we would get there was unclear.
Some time later, the tow truck from Tuba City showed up and loaded up both cars. We pointed out that we didn't have a way to get anywhere, and would really like to follow our stuff. The police officer (who had been on-scene for over 3 hours at this point) was very helpful and said that we could pile into his truck and he'd follow the tow truck.
So that's what we did.
It was a very tight squeeze with four grown adults in the single backseat of a police truck, but when there's a will, there's a way.
We eventually got to Tuba City (with a blown tire along the way and a swap to a different jurisdiction's police car) and the tow truck drivers very helpfully pulled up outside of our hotel. We then did a rapid-fire bucket-brigade unloading of everything from the truck, since we'd knew we'd never see it again. After we shook their hands and thanked them profusely for their help, they took off and we carried everything into the hotel rooms. As we were piling everything into the rooms, I had a thought nagging at the back of my mind: I wasn't totally sure where my phone was. Oh well, it was a mad scramble; I'm sure it'll turn up in one of these bags.
Around 1am, we finally had the chance to pass out, which we all happily did.
At 2:30, I was jolted awake with a realization: my phone is in the door pocket of the truck.