AutoMatters and more: My terrifying trip to and from CES 2023

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas did not disappoint, presenting an incredible variety of the latest products and technology. This year’s show was no exception – even including some auto racing: a follow-up round to the Indy Autonomous Challenge at Las Vegas Motor Speedway!

I came home just after midnight last night, with bags full of material to share with you in the weeks and months ahead, but since today’s column is due a little after noon, in today’s column I’m going to share with you a story from the road – about my harrowing trip to and from Las Vegas.

I always drive to Las Vegas. It’s very helpful to have a car there, and to drive back and forth to the various CES venues. I have stayed at Excalibur Resort for several years. It’s comfy, comfortable, and has free EV charging for my RAV4 Prime! I did all my driving in Las Vegas on that free electric.

Gift shop sign in las vegas

Gift shop sign in las vegas

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I left for Las Vegas a week ago yesterday (Monday). I had planned to leave earlier in the day but, as is usually the case, I was busy working my column and ended up leaving very late – around 7pm which was very unfortunate.

By the time I left San Diego, it had begun to rain sporadically during my drive to where I stopped to take a short nap at a rest stop on the California side of I-15, a few miles from the Nevada border. It turned out to be very lucky to do so.

When I got back on the highway, to complete my trip to Las Vegas, I was almost immediately confronted by a terrifying white blizzard. It was very late, and the rain I had been driving through earlier had turned into a very heavy, very wet snowfall. It quickly turned white, and it fell so hard that the highway signs (including Bots’ reflective dots) were completely covered in deep, freshly fallen snow, and visibility ahead was almost nil.

Excalibur Resort

Excalibur Resort

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Decades ago, I grew up in Alberta, Canada, so I was no stranger to driving in snow—the colder, drier variety though. I didn’t know when I left breezy San Diego on Monday night that I’d need to build on that experience for my trip to Las Vegas, but I did. My life and the lives of the drivers around me depended on it.

First, I slowed it down to about 30 mph. Like other drivers, I ran four-way blinkers in my car, so I could be seen—in case someone was stupid enough to come too fast and not see I was there.

Since I couldn’t see the road, I decided to follow the taillights of another vehicle. I got in behind a tall vehicle (mobile home I think), with lots of taillights. As I was following it, I started to feel the vibrations, as if I was driving on a progressively more bumpy road. Fearing that the motorhome might have been heading out of the way, I pulled in behind a Target semi-trailer truck. He (or she) had brighter tail lights, and seemed to know where he was going. In the end we got safely out of the snow.

Independent Indy Challenge at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Independent Indy Challenge at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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Unfortunately the return trip a week and a day later wasn’t much better. I had checked out of my hotel at 1pm but chose to use the afternoon and early evening to shop and take pictures on the Las Vegas Strip. By the time I had something to eat and was ready to head home to San Diego, it was raining again just after 7pm. Unfortunately, it progressed from a light rain to such a heavy rain that I could barely see it again. At least in the rain I was still able to see the lane markings in the road. Again, like most other drivers, I ran my 4-way flashes and made it through the flood safely, coming home just after midnight last night.

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Copyright © 2023 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters and more #774

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