Driving home north over the Grapevine (the interstate 5 freeway) last night, the rain relentlessly poured down, making vision difficult in the moonless night. Suddenly, traffic halted and remained stopped for two solid hours. Eventually I realized we were being removed from the freeway and redirected to the closest off ramp. There were hundreds of cars already parked lining the lanes paralleling the freeway and adjacent roads. That two-hour wait was how long it took to slowly allow four lanes of traffic to exit one vehicle at a time.

you can control your reactions


After exiting the freeway, all I could do was drive down an unlit street and park my car with everyone else’s. A truck pulled up behind me and parked. As the gentleman opened his door and got out, I asked him if he knew what the trouble was. Mud slides of course! It was 39 degrees and all we could do was huddle in our vehicles and hope the emergency machinery would appear soon to remove the mud. Luckily the rain had stopped.


Although I used to be the CEO of the Kern American Red Cross and I knew what one was supposed to carry in their cars in case of emergencies, I had recently emptied my trunk in order to transport a large amount of stuff, and had not replaced my storage box of essentials. Luckily, my daughter had just bought me a pair of fingerless mittens from Knott’s Berry Farm on sale from their Mystery Store, left over from Halloween Fright Night, and given me a wonderfully soft black scarf. Putting them on, I was appreciative of having some items to stave off the chilling cold. Looking around, I appreciated the tall trees lining the road and the fact that there was someplace in nature to be while awaiting the outcome of the situation.


spend time in nature


I had not eaten since lunch and a headache was starting to pound away. Again, luckily I had a bottle of water, Advil and a bag of kettle corn my daughter had sent me home with. As I munched on the kettle corn in semi-comfort, I wondered how many of the other stranded passengers had the luxuries I was enjoying.


After only two hours, the roadway was cleared and we all got to continue our trips onward. Even though people were cold and extremely late for where ever they were originally headed, at nearly midnight, they cooperated gracefully to allow the competing lines of traffic to merge onto the freeway, one car from each line in an amazing show of humanity and generosity of spirit.


Had we been there many hours longer, other essentials would have been necessary in order to comfortably survive the night. So even though you will likely never find yourself stranded in your car in the cold of a dark night, there are a few essentials that would be helpful to have in your car in case you do.


be thankful


Always carry water with you. If you can place a Tupperware or related kind of container in the truck filled with essentials, you’ll be ahead of the game. Some kind of energy bars are a good idea and you can change them out before the date expires. A blanket is critical in cold weather to hold in your body heat. Have a sweatshirt with a hoodie or anything to cover your head is critical too as we lose 80% of our body heat through our heads. Nature will call if you’re stranded long enough so carry toilet paper with you. A flashlight and a battery operated radio are helpful and make sure your cell phone is charged so you can notify the people who are expecting you at the other end of your journey. Naturally a first aid kit is helpful at all times.


As we entered the freeway and began really moving, I was so very grateful for having had the experience. It was an adventure that had been a safe one and was yet another example of how fortunate we are to live in a country that has the infrastructure to send out emergency vehicles immediately to help in situations like this.


world full of nice people


The freedom of being able to drive home safely and eventually climb into my warm bed made me even more grateful for the luxuries of my life. How much do we take these things for granted? You can bet I am more grateful than ever before. So many people are homeless in weather even colder than 39 degrees, without food, water or blankets. Be grateful for what you have.


Life is sweet! ~ STAY JUICY!



~ by Lorraine E. Castro on December 14, 2015.


  1. Great article and a good reminder to get my tote in order for the winter months. It reminded me a winter storm my husband, our 9 month old son and I were caught in many years ago as we were traveling from St. Louis to Kansas City. We were not as prepared as we should have been. We did have a wool blanket, our some sodas, flashlights and my dear dad had given us a shovel. We had no idea that snow was in the forecast…I mean this was 40 years ago and there was no weather app! There also were no cell phones! My dad said, “ALWAYS carry a shovel, you never know when you are going to need it.” Well, he was so right! We got stranded in a flea ridden motel where the sheets were so thin and dingy that we slept with our clothes on, but, we were warm and out of the storm. A lesson learned. Thanks for the reminder!


    • Wow Brenda, that sounds like an adventure! The fleas don’t sound too appealing but at least you made it home! Yes, we take for granted the modern miracles we have like cell phones and especially with smart phones and GPS, for those of us who get lost easily.
      Thanks and I wish you many new wonderful adventures of the fun kind!


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