Monday, December 8, 2008

Day 343: Snowy North Dakota

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!





Another FEAR story! This one is not about cleaning my camera sensor, but about driving home from Minneapolis on Friday night, north on I29. . . . the stretch from Fargo to Grand Forks. It was treacherous! The speed limit is 75 mph, and when traffic drops to 40 mph. . . for no apparent reason, it's time to sit up in your seat, grip the wheel, and take notice.

The reason it seems like "no apparent reason" is because you don't always see the black ice on the road. For much of this drive, there didn't seem to be much snow sticking to the road, but this highly compacted, glazed surface slick covered the interstate once the temperature dropped and the moisture from a persistent, but light, snow flurry hit it.

I was one of the folks who initially saw nothing worrisome, pulled out of the slow lane of traffic and crept up to 45 mph. . . . and immediately went into a skid back and forth across both lanes. Fortunately, everyone backed off and I regained control, dropped back in line, and kept between 35 mph and 40 mph. But every once in awhile, a car would pass on the left, and like everyone else now, I would then slow down more, watch for the brake lights ahead, and proceed cautiously through the increasing white-outs .

At one point, there was a snow plow in the left lane going very slow, a car passing me on the left, and directly in front of me, half on the road, half off, a truck stopped, angled to the right, and lights off. I had to swerve to the left, avoid the snow plow, pray the driver to the left had slowed enough behind the plow, and make it through the narrow space around the truck! I don't believe that we should see God as an all-year Santa, and just get what we want, but believe me, I was saying many prayers, of hope for safety, of gratitude for the good things in my life, as I continued on!

Shortly after this, I saw lots of flashing lights, police cars, ambulances, and sheriff directing the traffic off the highway. As I approached, I saw a car front down in the ditch to my right, no lights on, no one tending to this. I slowed enough to roll down my window and tell the sheriff there was a car in the ditch , and he said "Just keep moving before you get hit. . . " I got to the exit, again rolled my window down, and told this sheriff what I'd seen, and that I was worried someone could still be in the car because no emergency vehicles were by it, and wonderfully he said they'd send someone to check it.

7 miles of the interstate were closed, and I snaked my car in a convoy up county roads, following a truck. GET A GPS!!!!! I know how to find my way from Fargo to Grand Forks! It's so straight, you could practically SEE GF 70 miles straight north. But there was something very reassuring about seeing and knowing exactly where the county road curved ahead of me, that I was in fact driving parallel to the interstate, especially when the lights of the truck ahead of me faded away.

Obviously, I made it home, and then heard endless reports on the news the next day about the number of accidents on the road that night. Apparently, the stretch that had been closed had 14 vehicles involved in accidents just prior to might getting there! I'm glad I took just a little longer in the Barnes and Noble in Minneapolis, reading about cleaning my sensor, to keep me from being IN the accidents!

12 comments:

Becky said...

Yikes, you are such a good storyteller, I got all nerved up reading that. :-D I can deal with the cold and snow of winter, but the driving part is what I grow weary of every winter. Ever since I had a bad experience on black ice and went off the road a few years ago, I've gotten more skittish. And now my 15-year-old is about to receive his learner's permit. I'll be doing extra praying!

Lauren said...

Beautiful photos but YUCK what a mess that driving sounds like! Glad you made it home safe and sound...

Cari said...

Oh I am so glad you are ok. I am scared to death of driving in weather like that.

I also love that top photo.
Cari

Amy said...

Wow, how scary, I'm glad you made it home safely! I love your photos, but especially the second one, great angle! :)

Mom2Drew said...

Oooo, black ice is so tricky. Glad you made it home safe and sound. The snow is beautiful though.

Nicole said...

wow that sounds very trecherous! I can't even imagine something like that. Of course where I live, it would never even get that cold.

Carol said...

I love your first photo of the snow.
As for driving in it - we do when in Canada every January and find it the most stressful thing about being overseas. I don't know how you guys do it for the whole season?

Reds said...

Glad you made it home alright! It is so hard to drive when it gets icy and snowy!!

Jeanne said...

I'm enthralled by your ability to tell a story. I could completely picture the scene! Your photos are gorgeous, but your words paint and equally compelling picture.

I'm SO glad you made it through that mess in one piece (and that someone checked on the car you reported)!

Chell said...

Great photos but UGH on the scary drive. glad youa re safe!!

pat said...

Oh my gosh, Anglea--I got the shudders just reading your account. Having lived in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, I know about those blizzards and white outs. We get black ice out here, too, and it's very deceptive, because the roads are always wet, and black ice looks like just another batch of wet pavement. SO glad you got home ok!!!

Mandy said...

WOW....that is one heck of a story. I cannot even tell you how fearful I am of driving in the snow...and look where I live...Maine of all places. This weekend I had to go and get the kids at my mom's and we ran into a similar storm here too. Its bad enough with just me in the car, but having my kids with me makes me so much more tense.I am so thankful that you got home safely! There is a guardian angel on our shoulders sometimes.