You were probably expecting we’d be in Las Vegas now, getting ready for the big Thanksgiving holiday. You were also probably expecting to see a Blue View today. Well, we’re in Oklahoma as I write and you’ll have to wait till next week for a Blue View, I’m afraid.
David’s older sister, Karen, suffers from Parkinson’s disease and congestive heart failure among other maladies and recently has had to use a walker to get around. Negotiating her front steps is a challenge and will become more so, especially with winter on its way. She needs a handicap ramp, but has not been able to find an affordable way to get one locally.
Of the many things I admire about the Lynn brothers, two traits are especially key: their commitment to family and their versatility of skill sets. Karen needed help and they stepped up to the plate without hesitation. One minute we had hiking plans in Arizona and the next minute we were on our way to Nowata, Oklahoma … ~1200+ miles away.
I found an excellent website for a DIY ADA-approved ramp which David studied and used as a guide for planning Karen’s ramp construction. The pdf included all the ADA guidelines for ramp construction with plans, a material list and even the tools required. We loaded Blue to the gills with all the tools needed for the job. We also managed to find room for some Christmas decorations, a couple of Karen’s favorite paintings she’d never had room for and Becky’s old transporter wheelchair. Personal items, luggage and, oh yeah, a case of wine was crammed in at the very last minute. Desperate times require desperate measures.
The trip from Las Vegas to Nowata, Oklahoma took about 2-1/2 very long days. We left mid-day after Blue was crammed full and made it as far as Flagstaff, Arizona the first night. We got a jolt of icy reality on Day 2 when a Winter Storm Warning was issued. We watched temperatures plummet and snowflakes began to dance on the windshield, teasing us with the foreshadowing of things to come.
Snow flurries thickened and by the time we pulled off I-40 in Amarillo for the night, the snow was coming down hard and the roads were beginning to get slick. The hotel room was comfortable and snug, but peeking out the window at 6AM the next morning was disheartening. Yikes … it was still snowing. Blue was covered in snow and all frosted up. It was cold, raw and icy … not a pleasant traveling prospect. The snow finally stopped around 9AM and we hit the road … slowly.
Having lived in snow country a good portion of our lives, 4” of snow doesn’t sound like much. I can hear our New England, Wisconsin and Colorado friends thinking … what a couple of wusses … 4” of snow … that’s a dusting! In Amarillo, Texas, however, where they have experienced no measurable snowfall in 560 days (and were bragging about it on the morning weather show), it’s a big deal. Let’s just say snow removal, sanding and salting are not high on the Texas list of priorities nor is it one of their fortes. Schools were closed; some roads were closed and travel was hazardous.
I-40 was a skating rink. Packed snow, ice and an already rutted road made the going slow and tedious- 30 mph seemed too fast at times. The wind roared, blowing snow across the highway. We fishtailed and slid, but maintained. Trailer trucks were jackknifed. Cars and trucks were off the road in ditches. One RV was lying on its side. Every once in a while brilliant sun would poke through, nearly blinding us with glare as it reflected off the icy roads and new fallen snow. The temperatures hovered in the low 20s. This storm had broken historic snow accumulation and low temperatures records all along our route. Really?
With only 400 miles left to negotiate, we figured it would be an easy day, but with the wretched road conditions and slow speed, it wore on and on and on. Sometime in the early afternoon, the roads cleared significantly, became drier and we were able to pick up speed. Intermittent icy patches persisted, however, and several cars had spun off the road. When we stopped for fuel, David added anti-gel in preparation for the anticipated freezing temperatures.
When we finally pulled into our hotel in Bartlesville, OK, the closest hotel (and Lowe’s) to Nowata, we were exhausted … and we hadn’t even begun the task of building Karen’s ramp yet. This portends to be a very cold project.
Stay tuned … the Lynn boys are ‘rampant’ and raring to go.