My harrowing drive to and from the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas has never disappointed me, presenting an incredible variety of the newest, state-of-the-art products and technology. This year’s show was no exception — even including some auto racing: a follow-up round of the Indy Autonomous Challenge at Las Vegas Motor Speedway!

I returned home a little past midnight last night, with suitcases full of material to share with you in the weeks and months ahead but, since today’s column is due shortly after noon, in today’s column I’ll share with you a story from the road — about my harrowing drive to and from Las Vegas.

I always drive to Las Vegas. It is very helpful to have a car there, to drive back and forth to the various CES venues. I have stayed at the Excalibur Resort for several years. It is comfortable, convenient and even has free EV charging for my RAV4 Prime! I did all of my driving in Las Vegas on that free electricity.

I left for Las Vegas a week ago yesterday (Monday). I’d planned to leave early in the day but, as is usually the case, I was busy working on my column and ended up leaving very late — about 7:00pm.

By the time that I left San Diego it had begun to rain. Eventually I stopped to take a short nap at a rest stop on the California side of the I-15 highway, a few miles from the Nevada border. Little did I know at the time how important getting that rest would soon become.

When I returned to the highway to complete my drive to Las Vegas, the rain that I had been driving through earlier had turned into a very wet, very heavy snowfall — almost immediately becoming a whiteout blizzard. The snow fell so heavily that the highway markings (including the reflective “Bots Dots”) were completely covered-over with deep snow. Visibility ahead was almost non-existent.

Visibility in the whiteout snow storms looked something like this

Decades ago I grew up in Alberta, Canada, so I was no stranger to driving in snow — albeit of the much colder, drier variety. I had no idea when I left balmy San Diego on Monday evening that I would need to draw upon that experience on my drive to Las Vegas. My life, and the lives of the drivers around me, depended upon that.

First, I slowed way down to about 30 mph. Like the other drivers, I turned on my vehicle’s four-way flashers, so that I could be seen — in case someone was foolish enough to come barreling along too fast and not see that I was there, in time to avoid plowing into me.

Since I could not see the road, I decided to follow another vehicle’s taillights. I slotted in behind a tall vehicle (a motorhome, I think), with lots of rear lights. As I followed him, I began to feel vibrations, as if I were driving on a progressively rougher road. Fearful that the motorhome may have been heading off of the road, I pulled in behind a Target semitrailer truck. He (or she) had even brighter taillights, and seemed to know where he was going. Eventually we emerged safely from the snowstorm.

Unfortunately, my return trip to San Diego a week and a day later was not much better. I had checked out of my hotel at 1:00pm, but I chose to use the afternoon and early evening to shop and take photos on the Las Vegas Strip.

New York, New York

By the time I’d had something to eat and was ready to drive home to San Diego, it was again after 7:00pm. Once again it was raining. Unfortunately that progressed from a light rain to one so heavy that I could barely see where I was driving. However, at least in the rain I was still sort of able to see the lane markings on the road. Once again I, like most of the other drivers, turned on my four-way emergency flashers and managed to make it safely through the deluge, returning home after midnight last night.

Visibility was poor in heavy rain

Postscript: I regret that I could not take pictures of what I actually encountered while on my drives there and back, but I was 100% preoccupied with staying alive! I shot the hopefully illustrative car-in-the-rain-photo with my iPhone, in the rain, on the street near my house, several days after my return from Las Vegas.

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Copyright © 2023 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #774r3

Jan Wagner


  1. David Sperry on January 20, 2023 at 11:25 pm

    Jan, my wife and I did visit Las Vegas in 2012 when we went on the roadtrip of a lifetime. From home in Central PA and return, we traveled 6410 miles through 14 states. I remember the date clearly because my 2012 Jeep SRT8 was brand new. We hit every tourist attraction in the West (excluding California). Needless to say the Grand Canyon, Route 66, the Red Rocks of Sonoma, etc, and a few days in Las Vegas. It was a super fun trip because we were traveling with two other couples on motorcycles; relatives of my wife from South Africa. With 6 people on 3 vehicles, it was hard to keep the group together, but we had a great time in Vegas. Rather than walk the strip, we went to shows like Cirque de Soleil, and casinos (where we all lost our allowances of $60) plus restaurants in the top hotels. Thus, we never saw the Coke or Hershey retail shops on the Strip. As you point out, the two plus years of Covid have taken a toll on so many actives. David.

    • Jan Wagner on January 20, 2023 at 11:57 pm

      It sounds like you and your wife had a wonderful trip.
      I have not gambled in Las Vegas in years. Sometimes I will stand for a few minutes and watch people. They usually lose. That, combined with my poor track record with regards to gambling in casinos, reinforces my lack of desire to gamble there. There is, however, lots of cool thingws to spend money on in Vegas other than gambling. Check out my column about OMEGA MART. My cousin and her friend went there a couple of weeks ago during CES, based upon my strong recommendeation. They liked it.

  2. David Sperry on January 20, 2023 at 3:54 pm

    Jan, you were fortunate your RAV4 Prime had some sort of all weather tires or you would have been slipping and sliding on the Las Vegas bound leg. Were the Coke and Hershey exhibits inside the CES pavilion? Coke is my favorite carbonated beverage and Hershey town and headquarters are only a 45 min drive from where I live in Central PA.

    I guess we’ll be hearing more about the highlights of the CES and the Indy Autonomous racing. You are a busy guy!

    • Jan Wagner on January 20, 2023 at 5:42 pm

      Hi David,

      I never felt like I had a loss of traction the entire time — either in the snow or on the rain-soaked highway. Even though I doubt that my Toyota has all-season tires, since I live in San Diego, it does have lots of ground clearance and fulltime all-wheel-drive. It even has a Trail Mode, which I learned afterwards is only supposed to be switched on when slowly negotiating rocky or very rough, off-road trails.

      As for the Coke Store in Las Vegas (formerly known in its better days as the World of Coke, I think), that and M&M’s World are permanent businesses on Las Vegas Blvd., across the street from the New York, New York hotel and casino — which is the site of the Hershey’s two-storey store. Hopefully you will travel to Las Vegas some day and check out all three.

      Perhaps no more recently than 20 years ago, the World of Coke had an amazing set of water cannons that fired Coke back and forth across a room, into receivers. My kids loved watching that. Yet another kids’ favorite, there was also a room filled with soda dispensers that — for a reasonable fee, I think — dispensed sample-sized cups of Coca-Cola products from around the world. Some tasted pretty strange. According to a current employee who I asked on this visit, the equipment for that stuff had long ago been removed.

      Likewise, before the pandemic, M&M’s World used to have a show in an M&M’s theater. I think that COVID was responsible for ending that.


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