A Bay Area man and his girlfriend took the really long way home after spending Christmas weekend in the Tahoe area, in order to avoid horrendous traffic and closed freeways, driving east and south from Reno almost to Las Vegas, and looping back via I-5 through Bakersfield.
Castro Valley resident Josef de la Vega decided to do a 15-hour drive back to the Bay on Monday rather than sit in standstill traffic or risk not making it back home for work. As he told ABC 7, his girlfriend, who's nurse at Stanford, couldn't miss her shift on Tuesday, and he needed to make it back to work his two jobs as well.
"I just told her, unless you stay here we have no other choice, we got to get around this because we can't afford to miss work and stuff like that," de la Vega tells the station.
The very lengthy drive took them through much of Nevada — he didn't give the exact route details, but to avoid all the Sierra snow it looks like he took the 95 south to Vegas, then took the 15 to Highway 58 to get to Bakersfield and onto I-5 north.
De la Vega and his girlfriend returned home around 1:15 a.m. Tuesday after their incredible journey, but others who tried more regular routes were not so lucky. Highway 50 reopened early Tuesday, but it was unable to handle the crush of traffic that was trying to leave the Tahoe basin with I-80 westbound still closed.
San Francisco resident Marcela Cardona told ABC 7 over Zoom that she was just sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Highway 50 trying to get out of South Lake Tahoe late Tuesday morning, moving just a matter of feet per hour. And, she said, gas stations along the route were running out of gas, and she wasn't sure she'd make it back yesterday at all.
"I would recommend just stay in San Francisco," Cardona said.
But the skiing! For those who want to brave it, New Year's weekend promises to have some epic powder days ahead. In some areas, upwards of ten feet of snow fell in the last week, and once everyone digs out it should be a fun weekend — though gathering indoors for apres-ski beers isn't recommended.
The freeways are opening back up as of Wednesday, with I-80 now back open in both directions. CHP Truckee reported on Twitter that as of 8 a.m., traffic was getting heavier on westbound 80 as more Sacramento and Bay Area residents scramble to get home — likely a day or two later than planned.
❄️ SLOW AND STEADY ❄️— CHP Truckee (@CHP_Truckee) December 29, 2021
Traffic is starting to get heavy westbound on I-80 from the Nevada State-line and we are still getting some snow over the summit. We are asking you to do your part and be patient, slow down, and give yourself enough space with the vehicle in front of you… pic.twitter.com/T70TWvDUcz
Photo: Caltrans District 3/Twitter