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June EF Lottery

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Keep on wheelin John Rock
Staff member
Elite Explorer
August 17, 2009
Reaction score
City, State
Glen Rock, Pa
Year, Model & Trim Level
'92 Explorer
Ever heard of the Donner Party in the 1800’s? They weren’t prepared for a snowy winter, got stuck in a mountain pass, and ended up eating each other to stay alive.

Fast forward a little over a hundred years, July, and I (and my 60's Volvo sedan) decided to drive Interstate 80 from Sacramento, California to Reno, Nevada (over the 7000 foot Sierra Nevada pass where the Donner Party got stuck).

It was just a day trip to play some slot machines, have a couple free drinks and a cheap buffet. And it was SUMMER so I didn’t even carry a jacket, let alone chains, winter gear etc. Having been taught about the Donner Party in school, I should have known better…

When it was time to go head home, I saw some really nasty clouds to the west. Yes, it was a freak snow storm in the middle of July!! I couldn’t get over the pass, got one of the last motel rooms in a little town called Truckee, and woke up to the sound of snow plows. All in all, a horrible experience.

But the silver lining is I sold the sedan and bought my 93 Explorer 4WD and resolved to: ALWAYS carry winter gear if I’m going over 6000 foot elevation; never count on weather forecasts; and take the stuff I learned as a kid in school seriously. :)

[Not for submission]

I can relate to your experience of Donner's Pass. Going over Donner's Pass eastbound was the first time I had to put chains on an 18 wheeler. Of course it was dark also, I am driving with my first student, he was hanging on to the "oh sh$t" handle for dear life. I was doing my best to not let him know how nervous I was. Drinking my coffee, telling him to look over on a mountain side to see the headlights of a car moving along it. Had to get the way out of the snow plows while doing this too. If we would of rolled I would be stuck in the driver's seat because my butt cheeks were hanging on to the seat so tight. Made it with no problem, after chaining down near Truckee, he asked me how many times did I have to do something like that, the look on his face when I told him that this was my first time!

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