Friday, December 01, 2006

The Winter Weather Drive Home Report

It's 4:00 am and I'm awake and ready to go. But where? It's 4:00 am and it's snowing outside! I'm up early because I went to bed at 7:30 pm, thrashed by the latest snow storm to blow through. I left work early to try and beat the snow storm home but got on the roads and realized it was already too late. I tried playing the all-Christmas radio channel to boost my spirits as I hit the snowy, slippery highways at a blazing 5 mph. I was in for a long and frightening and downright exhausting drive home. This, after last night's drive home on pure ice that landed me short of home, at my brother's house, was almost more than I could handle. Almost. That's the key, isn't it? God never gives us more than we can handle, but He's not averse to testing us.

While my drive is normally a 35-minute, 35 mile, affair, Thursday night's trip took a little over 2 hours and involved peril. Usually, if snow is predicted, I will drive the Tahoe (it is old and it has over 200,000 miles on it but it is still 4-wheel drive and has some clearance for snowy conditions), but I left home on Wednesday morning without even a winter jacket, driving my VW Beetle, with race slicks and 4 inches of clearance. In snowy conditions, the VW's wheel wells fill with packed snow and turn the whole machine into something resembling a snowball. Packed snow, coupled with balding tires, causes much sliding and uncontrolled driving, resulting in what I imagine looks something like slow motion ice capades. I was not the only performer on the road either. There were others and our choreography was not well-rehearsed. The 18-wheelers were especially ill-prepared for the dance, barrelling down the road at a roaring 40 mph while the rest of us were busy twirling on ice. Anyway, after many frightful moments, prayers, deep breaths and pleas for safety, I arrived home and barely made it up the slippery driveway, into the safety of our garage. Halleleujia! My left leg was shaking like a sewing machine needle from all of its hard work operating the clutch (that's the other problem with the 5-speed VW in slow-going and perilous traffic; it involves a lot more work by the underutilized left leg). So, I made it home and after dinner and a glass of wine (maybe two), I went to bed thoroughly exhausted. But thank God I made it home.

Wednesday night, I was not so fortunate as to make it home, but I was very blessed to spend the night at my brother's house not far from my office. While Thursday night's adventure involved mostly snow, Wednesday night's was all ice. The rain turned to sleet in the early afternoon and, due to work related pressures, I could not get away until 4:30 pm, throwing what loose ends I could into my briefcase and racing out the door before things got any worse. By the time I got away, the sleet had accumulated on the roads and there was at least an inch of ice, and growing. I didn't even try to get on the highway, thinking I might navigate my way across town on the main surface streets, ultimately having to take the highway at some point and the final leg of the journey is a 5 mile stretch of rolling hills on a two-lane country highway. About 5 miles into my journey, I conceded the "fight," knowing there was no way I could expect to make it all the way home and called my brother before I got to the point of no return. "Hi D, how are you? Mind if I come spend the night at your house tonight?" Nothing like having unexpected company drop in at the last minute and ask to spend the night. 8-} Finding a hotel room was Plan B. "Sure," he said. When I arrived at his home (every inch of driving on the ice was hard work), I first breathed a deep sigh of relief. Then, I rang the doorbell. They greeted me with open arms. His home was so warm and cozy with the decorations of Christmas and smells of good home cooking. My SIL was in the finishing stages of making beef stew, cornbread and chocolate/chocolate chip cookies! How absolutely wonderful is that?! I was oh so thankful for the blessings of family nearby when I needed them. Plus, I got to spend time with my precious neices and nephew who spent much of the evening doing homework and practicing their violin, flute and drums, respectively. What a treat!

And yes, I wore the same clothes to work two days in a row. 8-}


At 12:25 PM, December 01, 2006, Blogger beth said...

I'm just glad you were able to navigate it all safely! That in itself is a blessing (as you mention).

Stay warm and cozy...all those numbers will still be there when it thaws.

At 1:29 PM, December 01, 2006, Blogger Eric said...

Watching the Weather Channel and hearing the reports caused me to wonder if you were having to cope with the mess. I'm relieved to hear that you survived it in good shape. Having lived in Dallas for a number of years, I've driven in more ice storms than I care to recall, and the experience drains you in all imaginable ways.

At 1:44 PM, December 01, 2006, Blogger DarkoV said...

Sounds like you did the brightest thing; adjust set plans to deal with the current situation. How many folks would have been in the mindset "Must Get Home" and stayed out on the perilous highways for hours?
And without Chocalate/Chocalate Chip Cookies?

At 4:35 PM, December 01, 2006, Blogger Foo said...

I'm grateful you made it through safely. We've apparently been sharing the same weather system, although I obviously got off a lot easier this time than you did. Nothing like the four-hour slog Turtle and I had to make back in 2003, when we were out in separate cars, comparing notes on where traffic was moving and where wrecks were. The whole thing might have taken two hours, if not for the morons with no grasp of physics, intuitive or otherwise.

There were others and our choreography was not well-rehearsed.

I have this image of a ballet performed by the inmates of a mental institution.

At 9:06 PM, December 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

did you use deoderant.....LOL>>><<<<<<

At 7:12 AM, December 02, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

Thanks, Beth. And that's what I try telling my clients every day..."your numbers will still be there tomorrow." :-)

Eric, sounds like you understand the problems of ice. Snow is kind of fun if you have a car that handles well in it (and tires that are not balding). Ice is most definitely NOT!

Darko, this was definitely a test of pride for me. I've never conceded a winter weather fight before, at least not where "must get home" was the mindset (I've certainly stayed home because of the weather on occasion). The end result was clearly a message to me that it's okay to ask for help once in awhile. ;-)

Foo, I'm sorry you're experiencing similar problems, especially if you're getting the ice! As we were twirling about on Thursday, my second biggest fear (following getting mowed over by a semi) was being the "moron" responsible for a pile-up or completely blocking the highway in some fashion. At least we were all moving forward. I was counting the inches at times, but traffic was still moving. Those that slid off the road didn't interfere with traffic much. I didn't want to be the culprit that prevented everyone else from getting home. Stay warm and safe!

Susie, not only did I use deodorant (I carry a "workout" bag in my trunk), but my brother had a bag full of unopened toothbrushes from the dentist. I also carry my make-up bag in my car (so I can put on my make-up, while talking on my cellphone, while eating my lunch, while driving a stick shift), so all in all, it wasn't bad to be stranded. ;-)

At 7:16 AM, December 02, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

For the record, before I start receiving lectures on the above, I do NOT talk on my cellphone or eat my lunch or put on make-up while driving. 8-}


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