Story - Snowbound Family Cub Trip
By Donny Millar
It was a beautiful September day and my wife and I were kidless for the weekend. We were headed to Central Point OR to a tractor show and to meet with a fella to swap $$ for wheel weights. On the way to Central Point I get a call and was notified that the wheel weights were unable to make it to the show. After much contemplation we decided to drive to Eugene to pick up the weights. While traveling north on I-5 near the town of Cottage Grove my wife said “look at all those tractors.” I turned my head from the road ahead and just caught a glimpse of about 50 tractors forming a long line in a field.
On the way back from Eugene we stopped by the tractor farm and talked to the owner by the name of Roger and were promptly informed that the tractors were not for sale. He then let us walk down to get a closer look. There were 2 Cubs in the row of all kind of tractors. We talked with Roger a while and exchanged e-mail addresses. Merry and I left disappointed that Roger wouldn’t sell anything. After a couple of e-mails we made a deal for the 2 Cubs.
Now came the hard part, finding the time to go pick them up. Well I finally got a reprieve from running around the country working on antennas. “Ah Christmas this could be my chance.” Merry and I decided to take the weekend after Christmas and make the haul. Roger had been very patient and my patience were gone.
On Saturday December 27th we loaded the 2 pups and the 2 young kids and headed to Cottage grove. We also decided to take an extra day to stop at the Railroad Park Motel in Dunsmuir CA. The Railroad Park Motel is a Motel made from old Cabooses. We thought this would be a novelty for the kids as well as for us. Along the way I talked to Johnbron and told him of our intentions and we made plans to meet on the way home. Johnbron just happens to be a really nice guy and proved invaluable during our trip. I really wanted to meet with him and most of all show off my bounty.
We made it to Cottage Grove on Saturday night without incident. Sunday morning we arrived at Rogers place and loaded two 49 Cubs a spare engine, a new head and some kind of disk plow. (excuse my ignorance I will post pictures later so I can find out exactly what it is). After loading it was time for coffee and some great conversation which lasted for a couple of hours. We left Rogers place at about 1:30 pm.
We’re now headed back south on the way to the Railroad Park and everything is going smoothly. We ran into a little rain but nothing too bad. As we approached Ashland OR we tuned to the Oregon DOT radio message. I started to get a little worried when we heard “ chains required over the summit. 4 wheel drive vehicles ok. If you are pulling a trailer with your 4 wheel drive vehicle you must chain your vehicle.”
At this point I was kicking myself for not bringing the chains for my truck. But in my haste to retrieve the Cubs I didn’t load them. We pulled off the interstate in Ashland at mile marker 12 and bought a pair of chains ($85). We then got back on the interstate and waited in traffic for about 2 hours to go 1 mile. Just before the check point I pulled to the shoulder and put the chains on the rear wheels of the truck. After about 20 minutes we were at the check point where the officer states “ you don’t need chains on your FWD truck but you do need chains on 1 axle of your trailer”. I tried to reason with him but after he said “ I don’t care what the radio message said you need chains on the trailer. If you want I can give you a ticket.” Well the thought of giving the State of Oregon any more of my money convinced me to turn around.
I turned around, took the chains off the truck and bought a pair of chains for the trailer ($50). After chaining up the trailer we were back at the check point (mile 11) at about 7:00 pm where we were told “you’re good to go.” I told my wife “good we will make it to the Railroad Park and the kids and myself won’t be disappointed.” Boy was I wrong!! All traffic was moving at about 10 mph and we had plenty of time to see the comedy of people trying to drive in a raging snow storm. We passed a new VW Bug that was stuck in the snow, now about 8” deep, only to see his front wheels spinning and the rear wheels (with the chains on) just sitting there. Semi’s and stuck cars and trucks littered the road and the going was slow and sporadically stop and go. At one point we were stopped behind a Subaru (something or other) and on both side of the car were stuck semi’s, this was at mile 10. The Subaru split the 2 semi’s and we followed. We were on a left hand turn with a slight banking. Once we got along side of the semi on our left side all traffic stopped. After waiting there for about an hour traffic again started moving. I put the truck in low gear and easy the gas (diesel). We never went forward, just sideways in slow motion right into the semi trailer. This was a very slow slide and once my mirror touched the semi trailer we stopped. The family remained calm but asked “now what”. I told them that it was a good thing I bought the chains for the truck and I would put them on the front wheels, turn to the right and be off the semi trailer “no problem.” My wife said “it must have been God’s intention that we buy those truck chains. After about 20 minutes and soaking wet clothes we were again moving.
The Subaru we were following slid off the road sometime while I was putting the chains on the truck so now we’re following a FWD Chevy pickup. This lasted to mile post 8 where all traffic again was at a stand still.
While sitting and watching it snow and blow we could see a distance of only 3-5 car lengths. The snow was really piling up now. It was at this point we decided to turn this into a big adventure and not a crisis. It was 11:00 pm and my 7 year old daughter had to go. She really had to go. So Merry said “here’s a cup you can go in it” “I’m not going to go in a cup that’s gross ” said my daughter. “It’s either go in the cup or go outside and freeze your booty off” replied Merry. So now there’s giggles and laughter. The cup was used on several more occasions during the night and the morning. Steven our 5 year old was very stubborn and was not about go in any cup. I’d open the door and hang him out, he didn’t care about the blowing snow. The dogs must have a bladder the size of a 55 gal. drum. After taking video and many pictures the kids finally curled up in the back seat and went to sleep. At about 3:00 am an Oregon State Trooper came to the window and told us that they are going to try to turn around the cars and trucks without trailers and send them back to town. He asked me to straighten out my truck and trailer and to wait until morning. After the truck in front of us was turned around I was able to get my rig straight and out of the way of oncoming traffic. There was a steady stream of return traffic for about an hour. Ahead of us were tow trucks assisting in getting the cars and pickups turned around. At about 6:00 am my wife and I were able to fall asleep to be awoken at 8:00 by a tow truck driver. He tells us that a bigger tow truck is coming up and can pull us to an opening in the median so we can return to town. I told him that we were not stuck and were mobile. He told us to drive up about 1⁄2 mile and there would be the opening. We started moving again only to be stopped to wait for the now stuck tow truck to get out of the way. Once the tow truck was moving again we were able to make a U turn and head to town. After returning to town we found a Ford dealer and I got a new left side mirror and replaced it in a McDonalds parking lot.
16 hours on that hill was just enough for us so we found a motel and started to get some rest until…it was Steven’s (the 5 year old) turn in the shower. This shower was the drive in type, no tub just the floor so someone could roll a wheel chair in. Well Steven was in there quite a while when Merry noticed the carpet was discolored. She opened the door to find Steven sitting on a towel over the drain. He had decided to take a bath instead of a shower. I hid my face and laughed for quite a while. Needless to say we all slept very well that night.
The next morning I called Johnbron and he told me the Interstate was open with chains required. We packed up and headed south once again. Once we were on the Interstate it was evident that chains were no longer required. I had chains only on the trailer at that point and there wasn’t a good place to pull over to get them off until we reached the summit. They were cable chains and were destroyed after about 9 miles on the pavement.
The rest of the trip was uneventful except for meeting Johnbron. It was very nice to meet him and his weather updates were very helpful. Thanks, JB.
We had so much fun over the weekend (and part of the week) when we returned home there was about 6” of snow on the ground. I unloaded the 49’s and fired up the 55 to plow before it melted
Family Cubs and Adventure.
It can’t get any better than that.