A flood, a landslide and new places

We were on our route. Adam was driving and I was sleeping. We were headed to a delivery in N. Las Vegas on I-15 S. Adam came to a sign that said the road was closed due to flooding. A total road washout. On the interstate! Closed. Check out the quick little map below – there’s not too many roads that go into Vegas nesides I-15, especially when you’re in a big rig.


Not many roads going into Vegas from the north!

He was able to pull off at a truck stop and take a few minutes to assess the situation – which is that we couldn’t get to our drop from the north – but we could from the south. But that detour would be insanely long. So Adam hashed a plan and ran it by our night dispatch (it was in the middle of the night when this went down).

Our second delivery was is Kingsman, Arizona. The Vegas drop only had three skids, so he thought maybe we could go to Arizona first, have them take the three skids off of the trailer to get at theirs, then put the three Vegas skids back on. Then we could head north and enter N. Las Vegas from the south. The detour was still quite a ways out of route, but it beat sitting for who knows how long to get to Vegas via I-15 – it would literally be days. That’s not gonna’ work! Dispatch was on board, so on we went.

I woke up around 1am and peeked out the windshield at a drizzly, pitch-black, two-lane highway.

“Hey… um… this isn’t the interstate… where the heck are we?”

Adam explained the whole situation to me. We were driving through the Grand Staircase Escalante National Park on US-89. I know, not a bad detour, right!? Unfortunately all I could make out of what I knew was incredible scenery was the black, looming shadows of giant rock formations set against the dark, cloudy, but full-moonlit sky. I just sat and watched it all fly by… in the dark.

We made a driver switch just a little ways before the Utah/Arizona border. I stepped out into the warm drizzle to do my pre-trip inspection of the truck and immediately smiled. The best smell ever – sage bush mixed with the sweet scent of juniper. It’s a desert-y smell that takes me back to the freedom of past hikes – particularly a Utah section on the American Discovery Trail. I love that smell. I took in as much as I could.

Then we hit our next road block – in a very literal sense!


Our detour - barricaded and very-much closed.

We drove through construction and across a one-lane dam with flag men working at 4am. A mile or so later I saw a sign that read, “road closed 18 miles ahead – local thru traffic only.” Um… what? It’s just a two-lane highway with no marked truck routes nearby, according to our atlas. Neither of us saw any detour signs so we drove on hoping there would be something further ahead. There wasn’t. The road was really closed, too. I’m talking cement barricades, cones, ropes, and beyond that, a chain-link fence. Adam looked it up online – a landslide. We. Are. Screwed.

Adam found a road on Google maps called “89T,” but it wasn’t on our truck maps and we had no idea if we were allowed on it. I called the Arizona Highway Patrol, and after being transferred about four times, I was finally given restrictions for this 89T road. 63′ x 10′ – 125 tons. Hey, that’ll work!

We turned around (thankfully there was a pull-off at the road closure that gave us enough room to do so). We drove all the way back to the one-lane dam and turned just before it to get to 89T. An hour later I was finally back on our first alternate route.

The rest of the drive went okay. We got to our Arizona delivery eight hours later than when we wanted to reach our first delivery, but after a phone call with our [super-awesome] driver manager, it was all sorted out. The last two drops will happen Wed. morning, and our two pick up appointments were moved back. Whew. What a fiasco! I don’t even know how many extra miles we drove!

The fun part of this whole thing was once the sun started to come up, I could admire the local terrain. This was my first time in Arizona. I have yet to find a state that I don’t love something about so much that I ache to come back. It was rainy on and off, but the clouds floated so low it almost seemed like I could reach outside my window and touch them. The sun would poke through every now and again laying a really cool glow on everything. It was a pretty drive.

It turns out that with our detour and route back to N. Las Vegas, we drove through the Staircase Escalante National Monument area, Glen Canyon, the Lake Mead Recreation area, we basically circled all the way around the Grand Canyon, and passed right by the Hoover Dam on US-93! What cool country!

So for those that know me, know how much I enjoyed that part of it all… and you also know that I had the hugest-ever pout on my face. Brown signs everywhere! Trail heads, forest access, national parks, camping, hiking trails, forest roads! Ahhhh! So much to play in… and we had to drive on past. Just more to add to my to-do list, I guess! :)

Now. Tomorrow? It’s going to go smoothly, nothing weird will break on the truck, and mother nature will be sweet to us. I just know it!

Tonight I love brown signs. They equal fun.


Driving past the Vegas strip. We did eventually make it!


A full-moon lit night of driving.


This is not my photo - I found it online. This is I-15 where the flood waters washed it out. What a mess!

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)


2 thoughts on “A flood, a landslide and new places

  1. Hey Guys, always an adventure somewhere!!! Detours bite!! i remember driving out there, not much for roads when you get off the I system, ecspecially with a semi, CRAZY STUFF hang in there!! just love your attitude about things, you can step over the logs but washed out roads no way. hope to see you soon !! love — Pappy —

  2. Hey Robin,

    Just wanted to comment on the smell of sagebrush after rain. It’s my #1 favorite smell. I grew up in Reno and always wished I could bottle it, it’s just so amazing – especially for us desert rats who don’t get to experience rain all that much. When I was in graduate school in Arkansas, I used to pull out my gaiters and smell them when I got homesick. They were imbued with the smell of sagebrush from walking miles and miles though the stuff during archaeological surveys.

    Sounds like you guys had quite the adventure. Keep on truckin’!


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