Yakima & Back - Interesting Trip!
Friday mid-morning I fired up our Toyota pickup based "Mini-LandYacht" and headed towards Yakima, WA. for their five stage Steel Challenge match to be held on Saturday. KeeWee had to work, so she stayed home.
I haven't made the trip across the mountains to Eastern Washington the last few months as the mountain pass conditions were not very good, and I really don't want to get caught in a heavy snow situation with the RV. The pass reports and weather conditions called for low temperatures around 37 degrees at night, so I figured even if it snowed a little bit it wouldn't stick and it would mostly be just wet roads across the pass. It rained steadily all the way from home across Snoqualmie Pass, but as I neared Cle Elum it cleared up a bit and was partly sunny. When I got to the range in Yakima, or more precisely in Moxee, WA. four miles East of Yakima, the weather was quite pleasant, except for some gusting winds.
I met Josh and his wife, the new range masters, and we had a nice visit. Josh mentioned that they were having some problems with what they referred to as Sage Rats digging holes around the range areas. Then badgers would dig out the holes at night, looking for dinner. The result was some pretty good sized holes that then needed to be filled back in. Josh asked me what I was shooting in the match the next day, and when I said "A .22 Pistol" he asked if I'd like to go have a look for some sage rats.
That sounded like a lot of fun, so I grabbed my race gun and a couple of magazines of hollow point practice ammo and off we went. Josh had been through the area shortly before, and had shot a few already, so when we walked into the area they were somewhat few and far between. "There's one over there!" he exclaimed, but with my eyesight I'll be darned if I could see it. I looked and looked, but no luck. Finally he directed me from bush to rock to branch to dirt pile, until I could finally just barely make out the outline of the critter. I allowed about an inch and a quarter hold over for that particular distance, and waited for a time between wind gusts to take the shot. The wind slacked for a moment, and I squeezed off the shot. A perfect head shot! (Yes, luck was involved, but I'll take it!) It never knew what hit it. Perfect! We walked around a bit more, but that was the only one we saw, so we headed back. Next trip I am going to plan to go look for some more of them.
By now dusk was approaching, so I got everything settled down and organized in the RV and then conked out for the night. It's amazing just how quiet a gun range is, once everyone goes home for the night.
The next morning I helped set up the target stands and hang the targets. After helping with setup, I headed over to the clubhouse and paid my entry fee and got signed in. KeeWee had telephoned one of the club members and asked that he relay a message to me about mountain pass conditions. Apparently the conditions had deteriorated a lot, and chains were required. Not much I could do about it until after the match, and one of the other club members had a phone with a pretty good screen on it so we could check the pass condition by looking at the pass cameras. Gotta shoot the match first, then worry about it later.
After a quick shooters meeting we broke up into squads and headed out to the individual shooting bays to get started. The wind was still gusting pretty good, and it made it a bit chilly, but as the day progressed it got quite pleasant.We all had a great time, and since it was only five stages, they allow me to enter twice so I can shoot every stage twice. It's a pretty long drive round trip for only five stages, but ten stages in a day is plenty for me!
Around 2pm. we had finished the match, and I helped to put some of the steel and stands away. We did a quick check of the pass cameras, and we discussed the options. It was now only "Traction Tires Recommended", and although they pass didn't look to good, it looked like I should be able to get through it OK. White knuckles maybe, but it should be drivable. The pass report radio was reporting that it was snowing, and temperature was in the low thirties. Clearly it was deteriorating.
The weather was still windy and gusty until near Cle Elum, and then it started snowing. By Easton it was starting to come down pretty good, and the road was turning white. Not far past that it started to turn into a white-out condition with huge snow flakes and almost no visibility. I tucked in behind a semi, figuring his tires would squeegee off the road a bit for me, and if I stayed in his tracks I should be OK. Past lake Keechulus the visibility was so bad you couldn't even see the lake, and the road is right on the shore of the lake. The long grade up to the East Summit was slippery, but the cars were still climbing it without sliding, so we got up over the summit without much problem. Traffic was moving about fifteen to twenty miles per hour, and I really didn't want to go any faster than that!
About an hour and a half later they closed the pass completely Eastbound due to all of the spun out cars, and required chains if you were going West. There was a little window of time to get through, and I had just barely got over the pass before it got really nasty! WHEW!
The rest of the drive home was uneventful, except for a Washington State Ferries Ticket taker who was a jerk, but where in years past they were all really nice, they are now about half and half. The nice ones are still nice, but since they are all union, no matter how much of a jerk they might be, we're stuck with them.
When you don't have any competition, you don't have to be nice to your customers, and you don't have to provide very good service. They aren't, and they don't.
It sure did feel good to get home and hit the sack. It had been a long day!
If anyone's interested, match results are here.