{ Sunday, January 25, 2004 }

My Weekend.

Yesterday morning, I dragged myself out of bed at some unholy hour (6:30 am). I packed my bag, and then I went to work. I left work shortly before eight (aka "so early that I was still using my headlights") and headed off to Chicago.

Everything went fine for most of the way up. I left Kentucky via Louisville, I got some breakfast, somewhere around Indianapolis I started wondering why there isn't just a big sign on the interstate that tells you when you actually change timezones...

Then, there was snow on the ground. No one said anything about there being snow actively sitting on the ground not melting! Also, I hit some traffic. I called Stalker Guy to ask a thousand questions about the snow and tell him I was in traffic and might take longer than previously anticipated. He assured me that the snow was not there yesterday and that he didn't think it would be in the road.

This was when I started saying "I don't know how to drive on snow." over and over again.

Eventually, after sitting in traffic for so long that I felt compelled to call him again "Hi, yeah, still sitting in traffic. I'm half a mile from your exit. I might die before I get there if I don't get to pee soon." and also I rediscovered whatever aggressive driver skills I might have ever posessed, I arrived.

I had a lovely afternoon and evening in Chicago. Stalker Guy is an excellent host. We hung out and went to dinner and walked around a bit and then got rather drunk and very, very silly.

Somehow, I was trying to stand up and I kneed myself in the eyeball. That's really how I got this black eye. Yes, I accidentally hit my eye with my knee so hard that I have a giant bruise. Stalker Guy did not hit me or accidentally elbow me in the eye (he's 18 inches taller than me, I can see how that could happen). I did this entirely to myself with my own knee. While trying to stand up. I am so talented.

This morning we went out to breakfast and then took a nap and then I began my absolutely epic journey home.

I had a very nice time with Stalker Guy. We actually did not fight and no one cried. I think we both definitely had fun.

Then the drive home. Oh my. I got my car loaded, said my goodbyes, and managed to find the interstate just fine. So, everything was fine through my previous problem area (getting out of downtown Chicago on the interstate). No traffic. All the snow neatly contained on the edges of the road. Everything was fine.

That lasted about an hour.

From four o'clock (my time) until after ten pm (my time), I worked on about 200 miles of Indiana. It was snowing. And, no one was ploughing the roads. Or if they had plouged them, I don't know what happened because I was just driving in wheel ruts that whole time.

I started counting cars. Keeping a running ratio of "cars that are wrecked on the side of the road" to "cars that are stopped on the side of the road" to "cars that are actually moving down the road at more than thirty-five miles per hour". It was about even in the end.

I stopped for gas as soon as I felt confident in my ability to navigate an exit ramp. There were inches of snow on the road. I did manage to get to a gas station and fill up my tank without injuring myself, anyone else, or my car. Mostly, we have the other drivers to thank for that.

When I got to Indianapolis, I called Stalker Guy and had him look at some doppler and tell me whether I should go through Louisville or Cincinnati to get to Lexington. He said Louisville because all of Ohio and Northern Kentucky was snow.

Then I stopped at a rest station. I really, really needed to pee and take off my coat. I was running the defroster on full blast because the windshield was covered in ice and that made the car very, very hot. Especially in a wool sweater and a wool coat.

The only snow plough I had seen this entire time was at the rest area 74 miles earlier. This was what motivated me to leave abandon the wheel-ruts and take on an exit ramp.

Sometimes, I make bad decisions.

Yeah, so I totally fishtailed my way into the truck lane. Then I got stuck there because the snow was so deep that when my wheels were in the ruts, the undercarriage of the car was lower than the snow. I tried to remember everything I knew about being stuck in the snow (and I turned on the hazard lights because there were semi trucks easing past me to park while I was sitting there being stuck in the road).

Grandma: God gives us snow so we'll know when it's time to stay home.
Mom: Learning about driving in the snow is easy. You just don't do it. You can walk to the store.
Dad: It doesn't snow that often. You can just not drive when it does.
My Former Boss: You just stay home until the salt trucks go by. Don't you try to drive in this.
All of my friends: I'll come pick you up. You shouldn't drive in this.

Seriously, no one has ever had any faith that I could possibly operate a motor vehicle when there's snow on the road. I am not a good driver in the best conditions. So, I just don't drive when it snows.

Meanwhile, I'm stuck in the snow. I have no cell phone service. There are giant trucks driving around me. I try for "move very, very slowly." Nothing. I try to back up and then go forward. Not happening. I get out of the car and walk around it. Yep. That's snow. I have no idea what I thought I was gonna find or do. I repeat this whole process.

Then I decide that in spite of the nagging "This is how people die" worry, I am going to have to ask some truckers to give my little car a push. Except, I asked two and they wouldn't do it and I was scared and cold and so I just went back to my car and cried.

Then I put the car in second gear and floored it and managed to slide my way out of the rest stop. No bathroom. Didn't take my coat off. I did not accomplish a damn thing except getting stuck in the snow.

I stopped again once I was about 30 miles from the border. This time I waited for a ploughed exit ramp. I was still on wheel-ruts on the interstate, but the exit ramp was ploughed. I coasted my way into the parking lot and somehow did not go on through the store front. Small miracles do happen. I got to use the restroom and I asked some police officers how much farther south the snow was falling.

"Well, when you get to Kentucky, it's all ice"
"Oh. I'm on my way to Lexington Kentucky"
"You should just stop somewhere for the night"

Back on the interstate, back on the phone with Stalker Guy. "Go to How bad does Bill Meck say the weather is?" "Okay, an ice storm. I think if I get to Louisville, I'll just go on home."

About fifteen miles later, I made some calls to Lexington. When I found someone home, I got confirmation of the ice storm and more details. I was advised to stop in Louisville and worry about getting home tomorrow.

I stayed on the interstate about twenty miles further than I otherwise would have. I took major roads to my street. Then I nearly died at the stop sign. I did manage to get the car into the driveway. It's off the road, but it's blocking the sidewalk. Also, it's under a tree. I am a little bit afraid it'll slip out of the driveway overnight (in spite of being in gear and the parking brake being engaged. It's sitting on a sloping sheet of ice), but I wasn't too sure I could back out and park and not die. I arrived home at eleven thirty...

The whole street and driveway and porch and everything are a solid sheet of ice and there's still more falling. We still have power and I am home and the cat is inside and that's good enough for me. I'm going to bed.

posted by mary ann 10:35 PM