Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Adventures

My brother was supposed to fly into Portland at just past 7 yesterday evening. Since Portland is being buried in snow and ice, his flight from Minnesoter was canceled. By random chance he heard flights to Spokane being called over the PA system in the airport, and managed to book himself a first class flight. My sisters, Mastah Chahlz, and I left our house at about 7:30 last night and drove up to Spokane to intercept my brother at 11:30 (my dad had planned to just put him up in a hotel and send him home on a bus, which would get him home at 4:15 this afternoon). It was solid packed snow and ice and blowing snow the entire trip. We were lent our aunt and uncle's Explorer, which has four-wheel drive, which made the trip possible, and drove about 45 miles an hour for all 360 miles round-trip. My brother got in on time, but his baggage is lost in Minnesoter, so he's now without clothes (or even a coat), or his toiletries, or....anything else. We finally left Spokane (after a misdirected detour thanks to some "sound" advice from Mum) a little after 1 a.m., and were making pretty decent time until we got stuck behind two snow plows plowing both sides of the road crawling at 30 miles an hour and completely (completely) blinding everyone on the road. A man in a Bronco decided it was a good idea to try to pass (at 55 miles an hour) by weaving around them. He disappeared around the plow in the left lane and for a moment we thought he'd made it, until we saw and explosion of snow off to the right. The stupid moron had gone completely off the road while somehow managing NOT to get run over by the snow plows. I cannot emphasize enough my complete disbelief that we didn't all end up in a huge crash scraping bodies off the road. I have absolutely no idea how he managed not to get run over. Of course the ASSHOLE snow plow drivers just kept going, as did everyone else, so we had to pull over and check on them. They were completely unhurt, but they had driven straight into the ditch. The snow was up to their window. Mastah Chahlz ran out to check on them (they were fine) while I called 911 (first time I've ever done it - it was efficient). Things seemed better for a few minutes after that, as the plows were so far ahead that there was no obstruction on the road, but then the snow started. Because the snow on the road was packed so thick that you couldn't see the road itself, you had to rely completely on the little road markers on either side to even tell where you were going. It was snowing so hard we couldn't see them without crawling at about 30 miles an hour (again). We were literally bobbing back and forth from side to side trying to navigate, and spent a good half an hour (we went maybe 5 miles) in that state. As we got further west the snow let up a little bit and the road curved so that we weren't heading directly into the snow, so we got to speed up a bit. But then it was windy and the snow was being blown all over in front of us. Every time a car passed (on the other side of the freeway) we'd have to slow down because we couldn't see anything.

We finally made it back to Walla Walla at 5:18 this morning. For some reason everyone had made a big deal about the snow in Spokane - I'm assuming it was because Spokane itself is really hilly, so it was causing problems, but it didn't seem any worse there than here. They hadn't plowed anything but the freeways, which made it difficult to drive, but Walla Walla plows (no - the citizens of Walla Walla plow - for some EFFING reason the mayor of the town decided to do absolutely no road maintenance) only the main streets - so that you're completely snow banked into your side streets. My sister had to completely launch us onto our street (not kidding - we were in a HUGE SUV with 4-wheel drive - there was a 2-foot wall of snow blocking our entrance) and then we skidded about trying to get into our driveway. I love my brother and the trip was mostly fun, so it was worth it, but I absolutely will not make another trip like that without an emergency. Not fun, and too disturbing to see people almost smashed to death for me to do it again.

The point: don't drive in the snow.