January 8 coming back to Reno
It is two days later. It rained all night and was still raining when we got to the station in Emeryville….and raining when we got on the train. Not surprising since the forecast is for four inches of rain on Donner Pass.
This is very bad thing. Four inches of rain means the snow melts, and there is now flooding on both sides of the Sierras. As we glide through Auburn we learn from our electronic media (another issue for a later thought) that Highway 395 on both sides of Mammoth Lakes (three hours south of Reno) is closed because of flooding. There is also a flood watch on Truckee River bridges: Arlington, Lake, and Sierra bridges where they cross the Truckee River in Reno.
This is forecast as one of the worst storms in the last 10 years, and so everyone seems to be excited about the weather.
We tend to forget that even though we feel we live in predictable and controlled times, when something like the weather becomes seemingly out of the normal, we are so surprised.
On the other hand, the weather helps to keep life in perspective. We are not as in control as we think we are.
And now the train is stopped. We ran over a tree, which because of the storm has fallen across the track. Have to back up the train and remove the tree from where it is logged in the wheels.
A short while later....and we are stopped again just out of Dutch Flat, we are not sure why. I don't believe the engineer is all that sure either. We are being told it is either the track flooding or avalanche control., or maybe both
This would be a good time to have a sound spiritual foundation and center. That way instead of getting ancy that we are running very late we could be thinking about how interesting the whole thing is. People around us in the observation car are sharing a kind of a holiday attitude. Again the schedule is out the window and we are free….the bar is open...what great fun.
Well it has finally been announced. About 30 miles ahead of us is the avalanche problem. Because of the rain and warm weather water is allowed to flow beneath the snow, and this running water frees up the snow to slide…resulting in avalanches. They are sending the bulldozers and other equipment out to move the snow. And 20 miles ahead of the avalanche threat there is water running over the tracks, and they are sending the crews out to clean up the drainage and make sure the track is still sound. And so we wait.
The experts are saying the last time anything like this happened is 1952. And they were stuck for five days. From the mood I'd say people are planning on a party and there might be a run on the dining car, and the snack bar ( he had just announced beer and cocktails). Could be a fun evening on the mountain side.
After three and one half hours on the mountainside, we are heading back to Emeryville. The track is closed because of the combination of avalanche and undercut track.
People are not quite as cheerful as they were three hours ago. It is nearing 9:00PM and even though we have not gone anywhere we are headed back for where we started, I can tell everyone is tired.
Quite the experience. We’ll see what happens next and how Amtrak handles the situation.
The Conductor told us Amtrak had shared no information. He was completely in the dark. There did not appear to be a back-up plan. We can go back to Emeryville (about three hours), or we can get off if we want to.
Either way we need to get over Donner. The car is parked in Reno.
We have cell phone coverage and smart phones. Time to check the situation.
We thought Amtrak might provide a bus to take us over the pass. But I80 is closed going west because of a mud slide. I80 is closed ing east because the rain and wind have pulled power lines out of the ground and the lines are leaning over the interstate, and the power company is sending crews out to repair the high voltage lines. Union Pacific is sending crews out to repair the track and move snow but probably will not be open till tomorrow (Monday) afternoon.
Another round of working on the Smart hones and the Hampton Inn in Roseville has rooms, and there is Uber service. We got off in Roseville.
We decided that instead of Emeryville we would be closer to Reno in Roseville and a shorter drive/ride the next day. Option 1, if Amtrak was running again or one of their busses we could catch it in Roseville, because we had unused tickets. Option 2, rent a car and drive. Option 3, is Greyhound.
Shout out to Uber….have never used it before but downloaded the App and had a car within minutes. Shout out to Hampton Inn in Roseville for finding us a room.