Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Winter Driving ~ Washington ~ Oregon ~ USA

Our winter travels south continue on day two and we don’t have the snow we had on day one, nor do we have the sunshine.  We made it through the Aldergrove border crossing after a 15 minute wait shortly after 8am.  They moved traffic through fairly quickly and we were on our way to meet friends in Lynden, WA who would then travel with us, pulling their trailer down I-5, too.

Heavy fog and slow traffic on I-5 at Everett, WA
I-5 freeway Everett, WA

A lot more traffic on the roads in Washington and the fog certainly is thick this morning but most are driving according to the weather and the roads are not winter roads. There is a lot of freeway driving on this part of the trip south but most of our time is not done during rush hour as we usually try to time the trip so we can avoid that.
Trees silloettes reflected on the lake
Roadside lake near Kelso, WA
This day was fairly uneventful and with the fog following us most of the day, the scenery was almost non-existent so it wasn’t a big photo day but there were some scenes that looked pretty enough for a photo.  This was taken looking into the sun that was just behind these clouds as we neared Portland, Ore.,  making it look like a black and white photo.
A patch of fog sits in a valley in the distance
Fog south of Cottage Grove, Ore
We spent that night in Cottage Grove, Oregon at the RV park adjacent to the Village Green Motel after a good long drive and enjoyed a great dinner in their restaurant.  They are just a short distance off I-5 so make it easy to get back on in the morning to begin day 3. 
Lots of fog but the roads are good for travelling.
Good winter roads at Cottage Grove, Ore

I love the scenery south of Cottage Grove and am disappointed we won’t be able to see more but the fog offers some very neat sights so the camera is busy anyway.  The roads are damp but the temperature isn’t freezing so they are good travelling roads today. 
Visibility is limited but the fog on the hills is great.
Fog on the hills of Oregon

Our destination is Red Bluff, CA tonight so we have a lot of miles to cover that include some mountain passes. We have left early so that we can arrive before dark, which arrives early during these winter months.

A man is walking his bike up this hill
Lone cyclist on I-5 in Oregon winter
We want to reach our final destination on the fifth day of travel but allow for more time in case road conditions dictate that. We’ve never been held up due to snowy conditions but some of our friends have had to deal with that.  One just never knows what lies ahead at this time of the year so be prepared to stay awhile.  This lone bicycle rider is one brave soul to be riding, or walking this part of the country at this time of year!
We cannot see very far offside the road, though.
Good visibility in spite of the fog 
Grant’s Pass is just west of Medford, Oregon and is one that concerns all winter drivers as it does get winter conditions and has been known to require chains in order to travel through these mountains.  Other than the fog and the threat of snow, we’ve not had any weather problems yet.
A nice winter picture, fine snow covers the trees and ground.
Snow covers the roadside hills and trees
The Siskiyou Range of mountains travel along the southern Oregon and northern California border and we don’t usually see snow on our trip south but this year is totally different.  We are seeing fresh snow on the trees that border the highway and we’re driving through clouds and we expect more snow.  We are climbing higher.
Sign shows the elevation and the winter roads
Highest point on highway  I-5
The climb has taken us to the highest point on I-5, which is in the Siskiyou Mountains.  1314 Metres (4,310’) is a big climb and although the outside lane isn’t a real one, the shoulder of this road is wide enough for the big trucks to travel and they do so as to not hold up the other traffic.  There usually is a sign to say if this is allowed.  Consideration in this matter is always appreciated by other motorists.
The snow and fog are not the usual sight we see here.
Welcome to California ~ foggy and snow
We’ve made it over the highest elevation and the snow hasn’t stopped but at least we were through the worst of it without having to put chains on our tires.  We did learn later that these passes had been closed a few times during the previous week, so we did time it nicely.  
Very cold and snowy rest stop
Rest Area north of Weed, CA
The thermometer in the truck for the outside temperature reads -2C (29F) so it is cold out there.  We call our friends on the two way radios we carry for these travels and make a stop in a Rest Area.  We take a break, make some lunch and walk the dogs.  These Rest Areas make it easy to get out and stretch, always a good idea every couple of hours and they offer clean restrooms, too.
these prove we're going in the right direction!
California mileage signs on I-5
We’re back on the road in no time and happy to have the mountain passes behind us.  The fog is still pretty thick but we know we only have a couple more hours to go before we stop for the night in Red Bluff, CA. 
The foggy Lake Shasta is barely visible
Lake Shasta, CA
Lake Shasta is shrouded in clouds but we’re able to see the marina, not much activity there today. We carried onto Red Bluff, CA and stayed in Durango RV park, also easy access from the freeway and enjoyed a beautiful RV park with nice amenities and nearby restaurants and shopping.

We’re not there yet so stay with us and we’ll share some more winter travels.


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