MEMORIES: The Donner Pass versus Dungeness Crabs


This picture triggered a memory from the mid to late Seventies.

I had an AT&T training mission to San Francisco. She took the time to go with me. I planned the flights to give us a long weekend in Reno. She was excited because we’d never been there before. Side trips to Virginia City and Tahoe. Fly back Tuesday afternoon not red eye; in at 1AM. I had work Wednesday.

Go! Flight out, great. San Fran, great. (But too many Dungeness Crabs fmpov!) She had a ball.

Mission complete. Checkout. Pack unlimited mileage Hertz. Up route 80 to Reno. Thru the Donner Pass. Discussion of the Donner Party. Notice the GIGANTIC snow rods on the roadside. Twice the height of the tractor trailers passing them. Automatic signs with the choices: road closed, 4 wheel drive only, chains required – all vehicles, chains required – trucks, chains recommended, caution, and clear. Made an impression on me. Those signs were new since the last time I drove the pass.

We checked into the hotel, played, and had a ball.

On Friday, I was watching the news. Weather forecasted snow starting Saturday at Noon. I make an executive decision: “Evacuate; Saturday morning.”

Needless to say, Our Girl was not pleased.

With her trademarked “prune face”, “Aren’t you over reacting?” I said: “I’ll take the car back down to Frisco. You can come down by bus or plane and I’ll meet you to go home. I can’t lose my job because of a little weather.” Maybe that scared her. Being alone in a strange city. She knew I’d never leave her unless the circumstances were exceptional. We were always joined at the hip. “Fine!!! we’ll go. What time Saturday?” “On the road by noon.” “Fine!!!” (Definitely not fine, but she was a trooper. No passive aggressive subtle sabotage. Decision was made; she saluted and carried on.) But, I don’t think we went to bed that night. As usual, she packed a lot of living into the time available.

But we were on the road about 11AM. Snow flakes were falling. Radio was reporting a bad storm was starting. I may have sped a little down 80. Hit the pass and the road sign was light “caution”. When we exited the pass about 30 minutes later, the sign was “chains required – all vehicles”. We cruised into San Fran, checked into an airport hotel for the Sat-Sun-Mon stay, dropped bags, and went for crabs. She was mollified. We went to a movie.

Returning to the hotel, the radio reported that the Donner Pass was closed for the next few days with more than 4 feet of snow.

She, in one of the few times I ever remember, says: “That was a good call.”

Treasured that. Didn’t happen too often. Those were few and far between. (Probably because there were few times one of us had to make a tough call and override the other. We always talked our way to consensus.)

I think the Gambling versus Dungeness Crabs tradeoff was a pretty even swap.

The Donner Pass reopened the follow Saturday.

Subsequently, whenever we did the “SanFran-Reno” dodge, she always say “Watch the weather.” I did, but we never had to pull the trigger like that.

Funny the stuff you remember.

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