It is a strange thing to be driving in a snow storm one night, then spend the following morning driving down a clear freeway with the air conditioner on. On Saturday night, as the snow that had begun early that morning continued to fall, my brother, Sam, drove Michael and I to the Portland Airport to catch our flight to Phoenix. Sam, dad, Michael and I piled into Sam's two-door Toyota Echo, and neither Michael nor I felt we were off to a great start when Sam began skidding left and right as we made our way slowly down the hill.
"I have to let up on the breaks in order to steer the car," Sam explained. Ah. I feel so much better now.
Thankfully, getting down from the hill seemed to be the worst of it. Sam got us to the airport in a mere two and a half hours (only about an hour longer than usual), and never once resorted to putting chains on the Echo. He is a braver soul than I, but perhaps the fact that I trusted his driving is indicative of my own bravery (or foolishness, I'm not sure which). Although, as Sam himself stated, he trusts his driving without chains in the snow more than most people's driving with chains, and I think he has a point.
We were fortunate, too, to catch the last flight to leave the Portland Airport that night. After about a half hour delay to de-ice and prepare the plane, we were on our way, leaving the snow flurries far behind. Driving in the car on our way to Michael's dad's church in Scottsdale this morning, it was disorienting to be surrounded by vast stretches of dry, mud-brown earth dotted with endless adobe houses. My skin, already uncomfortably dry from the severe winter weather we've been having in the Northwest, felt even more parched.
Our stay in Arizona was brief, however, and this afternoon we were on the road again, driving Michael's dad's old Rav4 to Las Vegas, the home of Michael's brother, Ryan. As we drove, the desert landscape changed from sagebrush and saguaros to Joshua trees, looking for all the world like the spindly, spiky flora of a Dr. Seuss tale. I half expected to see some desert relation to the Sneeches peer out from behind a branch.
As we drew nearer to the Nevada border, the sun painted the wispy clouds to the west in glorious, glowing oranges and pinks. The dull brown of the daytime landscape disappeared in the sunset, so different from the whites and greys that were all that had been visible on the road to us only 24 hours before. And I count myself incredibly lucky to have been able to experience both.