Essay The New Ice Age

Essay The New Ice Age

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It was late August and the Cascades had been snow-covered from bases to peaks all year long while temperatures in Yakima, typically over a hundred degrees in the summer, had gone over seventy-five just once in three years. It had long been clear to Clayton—and billions of others—the new ice age had begun.
He was taking his family south to Los Angeles, where he had relatives. Ice age or not, Southern California still had a growing season and a garden might be all that stood between getting anything at all to eat and starvation.
He considered himself lucky to get away this morning. After months of preparation, he and his family left Yakima just before sunrise. For the first eighty miles on I-82 travel was slow. But, as they passed the nuclear facilities at Hanford, the road got better. It was now almost 9:30 a.m. as he turned west onto I-84, at Umatilla, Oregon. He glanced in the rearview mirror to see how the kids were doing. Wedged between sleeping bags on the passenger’s side, his ten-year-old son, Robert, was trying to go to sleep. Robert had the dark hair and thin lips of his mother and he’d inherited her doleful expression that masked whatever was going on inside either of them.
On the other side of the van was Danielle; beautiful, blonde, barely five-two, and thin. She wore a black T-shirt with red lettering across the front that read:

Fuck Off
or I’ll Kill You ‘til You’re Dead

The shirt was a sore spot with him, but what had him fuming was the fight she’d put up this morning when he’d forced her into the van.
At sixteen, Danielle shifted back and forth between moments when she was still a child to moments when she was the woman she was growing into. She had a boyfriend Clayton had never met and she swor...


... middle of paper ...


...ng the main highways.
He knew from the radio that I 5, running north-south through central California, was no longer maintained because of inclement inland weather. But US 101 and US 1, along the Oregon and California coast, were open because the Pacific Ocean still made for milder weather there—and the Army kept them clear.
Roads like I-82, along the Yakima River and I 84, along the Columbia, were still drivable because they were main roads inland and served as access roads to the hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River and the nuclear facilities at Hanford, Washington. It was roads such as these the Army maintained, but no one knew how much longer that would last.
As he drove through the Columbia River Gorge his CB scanner skipped from one religious program to the next. There was no shortage of religion. “Jesus will save you.” “Christ will keep you warm.”

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