ok, so it really wasn't that magical. scary is a more appropriate word. yesterday was a day of travel, delivery, shipping and shopping for mindy and i. we drove in one of those gross grey mist rains to fort wayne early in the day to meet with the folks from Fort Wayne Museum of Art. we dropped off their custom mugs, chatted a bit, then stepped back out into the cold grey mist to go to the mall do to a little christmas, anniversary, and general consumerist bullshit shopping. we ate lunch at a less-than-good thai place, then headed back to portland. by now the misty rain had become snowflakes and we rushed a bit to load up ourselves, our shit, and our cat and make our way to lafayette for the rest of the week. noooo problem.
|eerie iPhone snaps from behind the window ...|
as we set off back to lafayette the snow began coming down pretty hard, and the wind had picked way up. but it was light out, and i feel comfortable driving in the the snow and the light when there is traffic on the roads. we did however decide to skip the county roads and take the state highways. we figured they'd be plowed. a mile from the house we saw a guy drive his taurus into a ditch/cemetary where SR26 splits from SR67. the roads only got progressively worse and the wind was making the powerlines flip up and down in that fun wave pattern. as we came near to hartford city we met a road-closed-due-to-a-rushing-drainage-ditch-river sign and had to get on the county roads anyhow. surprisingly, they were in better shape than the state highways. the snow just kept coming though and we made our way back onto SR26 to finish out the drive. but we were in for a BIG surprise.
|photo via the Journal & Courier online|
that surprise was indiana's notoriously shitty road conditions, weather removal response, and budget cuts. in other words, we saw 2 salt trucks in 110 miles of one road with 4+ inches of hardpacked ice/snow on top and in the middle of rush hour traffic. we went 15-30 mph for 80 of those 110 miles. this was the worst road conditions i've ever seen, especially for a late november wet snow that will be melted away later this afternoon. as the light became dark the cat cowered in the back seat, and mindy screamed, squirmed, and nervously rode alongside in the passanger seat. we counted 12 cars in ditches along the way. and we nearly became a casualty of the indiana roads ourselves on a couple of occasions as we slid across the center line, the edge line, and the possibly careened over a ditch or 2. since no plows had gone down the road there was no way to tell where the edge was other than the powerlines and fence posts (but you hit the ditch before you hit the powerlines). following fast-disappearing tire tracks and trying not to be blinded by the headlights of the asshole with 4WD up in my bumber like colon cancer, we slowly found our way along the edge of the road. i gripped the steering wheel until my fingers were stiff in a grip position trying not to hit or get hit by on-coming traffic, make our way up hills coated in 2 inches of ice, and stay on the road. this was a 4 hour challenge in a normally 2 hour drive. my neck and shoulders were so tense i could have squeezed OJ from between my shoulder blades and could only take short truncated breaths of the nervous air. once we reached SR75 and approached rossville the snow seemed to be letting up and the sleet/rain returned. the roads were exceptionally better once we got further west. after rossville the new rain had melted most of the new snow/ice from the road already. we could finally see pavement. once we got to lafayette, roads were plowed, cleared, melted, and drivable. after the debacle of trying to get through the middle of the state, a slice of black pavement was a sigh of relief. exhausted from stress and on-edge nerves, we rolled into the drive and unloaded. we did nothing the rest of the night. our volvo, jack, with his missing side marker (see winter graffiti for info on that) took great care of us as he growled and slushed his way back to lafayette. but he definitely felt like a 14 year old car with a 150k miles and no traction control. whew.