When we got up yesterday we had no idea what we would be encountering when we went outside. My husband wanted to go into the workshop to work on some stuff for the house, but didn’t want to leave me and Yeyda at home alone knowing I could go into hard labor at any time. Halfway to our destination I was wishing that he had left me home :$.As we pulled out of the driveway we noticed that the rain that had fallen earlier had in fact frozen on the roadway so we carefully inched our way to the intersection of the main highway that crosses our region. Trusting that things would be much better there he sped up a bit until I asked him to check the brakes. After a few seconds the anti-locks kicked on and you could feel that there was still a bit of slickness even on the highly traveled runway. It was 32 degrees and we were hoping it would get warmer. As we traveled east though we found a much more grim scenario.
Ten miles from our house we noticed that the temperature had dropped 2 degrees. We must have been just enough north (which honestly is very little in comparison to where we came from) to encounter colder temps. This made all the difference in the world in road conditions. The road turned from slightly slick to ice coated and treacherous. You couldn’t stop, you couldn’t speed up and it took all your strength physically, mentally and emotionally to keep your car from sliding off the road. As we came around the curb that crossed the next major north/south route we could see a red Blazer trying to make a right turn onto the road in front of us. He didn’t make it very far – the vehicle spun twice in front of us coming to rest in the oncoming lane pointed the wrong way. I hoped anyway that he wouldn’t be able to get any traction until we passed, but it looked like he was going to be stuck there for a while because as we went by all you could see and hear was the back tires spinning.
Traffic moved even slower. The box truck that had been gaining on us the first 10 miles of our trip now started to lose his view of us even though we were only going 20 miles per hour with our hazard lights flashing. Half a mile up the road there was another little grey car in the ditch on our side of the road. Two miles a head of that a black sedan had spun off the road and taken out a mailbox. In true hillbilly fashion the driver of the car and the owner of the mailbox were standing there at the side of the road just staring at the car and busted mailbox just inches away from where traffic was precariously perched on the icy roadway. Personally, I would have been as far from the road as possible knowing that at any second one of the passing vehicles – large or small – could slide right off the pavement and directly into me.
The closer we got to town the worse things got. The road has been in use for 30, maybe even 40 years, with only patch jobs done as repair. With the passing of time the constant semi-truck traffic has created ruts where water and snow collect and the roadway itself has become domed in the center. In icy conditions like this the back end of your car is continuously wanting to kiss the ditch. We tried to stay as close to the center of the road as possible, but with oncoming traffic we had to keep inching our way back right and you could feel the butt of the car want to start swinging around. The first time we went sideways, because it happened two other times, I panicked a little (I’m technically in labor and our three year old was strapped securely in the back seat). The ditches were deep and with the ice there was no way emergency vehicles could have gotten to us for help. I was just praying that we not have a repeat of three years ago. At first I just said, “Oh, God no.” I tried to control my emotions though because I could imagine the stress my husband was under trying to get us safely to our destination. I was very proud of Yeyda too because even though she was hungry she only mentioned it once and didn’t whine or complain the whole way.
To compound the situation we noticed we were almost out of gas. It was my fault. I had driven the car on Wednesday and hadn’t noticed until it was too late to find an open gas station to fill up. By the time we made it in to town and filled up, our 15 gallon tank took 15.72 gallons of gas. Sorry honey. We made it slowly through town where the roads though salted were still quite slick. When we got to Bob Evans we were told that we were under a level 3 emergency and that if we were pulled over we would be ticketed. We took our time eating what was now brunch and when we left Bob Evans the temp had risen to 34 degrees and the ice was starting to soften.
I had such plans for the day. My enlarged (permanently) and swollen feet need new shoes and I would like to get a watch since I haven’t had one in probably 3 maybe 4 years. The only shopping I would be doing today though would be at the workshop on the Internet. There was no way I was going to drag my three year old and my pregnant belly through the slippery town and icy parking lots to go shopping.
Pretty much we stayed the whole day indoors. Yeyda was a champ. She happily played on the whiteboards and colored in the coloring pages I printed for her. She even said she didn’t want to go home, she wanted to stay at the office until the middle of the night. What a girl. When my husband and her finally decided they were hungry enough to quit and go home the majority of the ice had melted, but we had another treacherous phenomenon move in – FOG. Not just light, 1 mile visibility fog, but pea soup if your hand isn’t attached to your body you wouldn’t know it was in front of your face fog. We hadn’t eaten all day so we tried to find a place that didn’t have a wait. We ended up at a crappy Mexican restaurant whose food did nothing but fill our bellies. Then we had to stop at the grocery store to get some milk and a few other incidentals we had run out of.
We ran into our niece and her husband and chatted a bit. By the time we left the store it was almost 10 PM and the fog had thickened. Again, on the first 7 miles or so of our journey the fog was thick, but manageable. We could travel at a reasonable rate and had visibility of 50 feet or so. The closer we got to home the thicker the fog became until we could see no more than 10 feet in front of the car. Thank goodness for edge lines, reflectors and no more ice on the roadway. Well, that’s what we thought anyway until we turned down the side road that leads to our house – ice covered, no edge lines, pot holes and a stop sign we knew was there but couldn’t see. We managed to stop in time but had to turn off everything, noisy and non-essential in the car and open the windows because we could not see the cross traffic and had to make a left turn. Thankfully the nearest car was going away from us and we were able to make our turn. The next trick would be to find our house. We literally came to a crawl as we scanned the north side of the road for signs of our driveway. We were pretty much at the edge of the drive before I could see the light post of the far side of the drive. An oncoming truck didn’t know what we were doing and slowed way down to pass us by. I don’t think I’ve ever given such a large and welcome sigh of relief when we pulled into the garage.
Personally, I have never driven on ice that bad or fog that thick. I hope neither I or my husband have to again. Just glad I didn’t go into hard labor yesterday.