Thursday, January 09, 2014

Never done that before...

Dithered in Knoxville and finally set out shortly before noon. It was maybe 15F and things were clear until I hit the mountains south of Jellico, where a lot of cars seemed to think the white salt on the road was the same as the white snow on the grass, and so you never knew when you'd come on a knot trying to pass a car 55-ing it along in the slow lane.

Once into Kentucky, the snow pretty much vanished, although the icicles on the cliffs of the highway cutouts attested it was still cold. Gassing up on the north side of Lexington, it was 21F according to the weather app on the portable magic elf box.

Heading west on 64 took me out from under the worst of the cold. Despite the walls of the steep cutout east of the Kentucky River bridge being draped with icicle sheets that would have looked more appropriate lining I-89 outside of West Lebanon, NH, most of the weather stations around Louisville were already reading ~32F.

Heading north into Hoosierland on I-65, the icy patches on the shoulders began getting closer to the travel lanes, while the petrified turbulence of frozen rapids in spillways leading into the roadside ditches gave mute testimony to how quickly pouring rain gave way to lunar cold earlier in the week.

I did something I never would have done before: At exit 29, bearing in mind the pictures from Indy traffic cams and Bobbi's reports of surface streets in the Circle City, I pulled off and got a motel room to shoot the final into Roseholme Cottage after rush hour the next morning.

Under regular conditions, I'd be maybe an hour from home. Realistically? I didn't want to tackle the last leg as it was getting dark, with the roads jammed with idiots* in a vestigial rush hour. It's supposed to get above freezing today, and I'll take the last bit after morning rush hour, fresh and rested.

*If it was just me? I'd drive that Subie home like I had a Finnish last name. But it's all those other people, the ones that want you to be part of their wreck, that worry me.


og said...

A powerful lot of driving is idiot avoidance. I've done over a million miles of it and it's a constant battle. A subset of that is knowing when not to be an idiot yourself, and drive past your abilities. A hotel room is a lot less expensive than a hospital room.

joethefatman said...

Good call. The lack of common sense in the average driver has caused this former trucker to pull over and wait it out more than once.

Comrade Misfit said...

Good move. Once the Sun sets, sometimes those roads can turn into skating rinks.

I did the same on a long x/c trip. I got a motel room at sundown and went to the bar, which had a view overlooking the highway. Within an hour of sunset, the highway was awash in lights from EMS, cops and wreckers.

MSgt B said...

Driving up 65 to McCordsville tomorrow. Let me know what to look for.

Fred said...

-26° here this morning. The truck wasn't happy. Calling for snow tomorrow night.

Anonymous said...

Discretion is the better part of valor or something.


Firehand said...

Once wound up on icy roads going across a bridge and found myself in the middle of about eight cars suddenly going in random directions and bouncing off things. And each other.

Made it through, turned around at the first exit and and went home; there was NOTHING worth trying to complete that trip under those conditions.

Anonymous said...

I view driving in those conditions when you do not absolutely have to is like riding in the charge of the light brigade (crimean war reference) stopping is the mature and smart decision. to many total idiots on the road!!

cj said...

Always amazed me when I lived in that area...half the people seem to drive like there's ice everywhere and go 25 in either lane, then the ones who feel they have to prove that 'I ain't skeered!' trying to do 70.

I DO recall one trip through Troy, OH where the road WAS ice, and most were doing a necessary 35MPH crawl, and one of the latter type above blew past everyone. It was a bit amusing a few miles later to see just how far he had managed to slide his truck into the field by the side of the road.

BGMiller said...

"I'd drive that Subie home like I had a Finnish last name."

And now all I can picture is the Subie drifting around corners with all four wheels throwing ice chips and a little Simo Häyhä bobblehead on the dash in place of the traditional hula girl.

The image of an IMPD officer pulling you over being shocked sober by the realization of how badly out gunned his precinct is made me chuckle too.


Bram said...

Sometimes that little itch in the back of your brain is trying to save you from serious trouble. I listen to it more now than I used to.

global village idiot said...

Tam - it's official.

You're a grown-up now.

Welcome aboard.


Jennifer said...

Good call. No one needs a front row seat to idiots on ice.

Will said...

Seemed like an OK idea at the time:

1) Teenager

2) Winter of '70-'71

3) Wide Ovals, NO snow tires

4) '62 SS Chevy Impala (348/4spd)

5) No heater/defroster (may have had something to do with the engine swap?) Had to constantly wipe my side window and the windshield to see out.

6) Fresh overnight snow

7) Needed to drive across NJ to get to my job in PA (was visiting relatives)

8) Left at the crack of dawn, and saw no other vehicles on the Parkway or the NJ Turnpike, and no tire tracks -Major Clue!

9) Car would always rotate clockwise when I hit an overpass. Spent a lot of time looking up the road through the driver's side window. 1/4 mile slide before recovering was not uncommon.

10) Turns out it started as rain, which froze, and then added several inches of snow on top.

11) Made it to work on time!

No customers that day, for the most part. Some of my fellow workers stayed home, too. Took me most of the day to warm up.

Steve Skubinna said...

Smart and cautious beats bleeding out in the snow.

Something neither Napoleon nor Hitler ever figured out, so you're one up on those guys.

Anyway you get a lot less invulnerable as you age. I've noticed that in myself at any rate.

Anonymous said...

"I'd drive that Subie home like I had a Finnish last name."
Do you mean like this, Tamara Kankunnen-Vatanen?

Bonus points if you know whose names I referenced.

When I was an amateur motorcycle road racer a long time ago I was amazed to find out how many racers would not ride on the street. They felt it was too unsafe due to the other road users.


Unknown said...

Use that portable magic elf box for something useful -- Waze. A few weeks ago I ended up driving from Denver to SE Washington State overnight. Yes it gives your real-time location and driving speed to Sergey and Larry, but I'm OK with that when Waze tells me to take another route because everyone up ahead is sliding off the road.

mikee said...

Ah, the wisdom of stopping for the night!

Back in my college days in South Carolina, I got a ride home (100 miles to North Carolina) once Christmas break with a lovely young woman.

20 miles outside of Charlotte, the highway suddenly had 6" of snow and ice on it. The sun was setting, she did not want to wreck her car, and we pulled over at a motel.

She refused to share a room with me, leaving me both suddenly penniless and highly suspicious that my reputation had preceded our arrival at the Motel 6.

Like almost all blizzards in NC, the next morning at 9am the roads were essentially clear, and by 10am the snow was all gone.

My regrets over the forestalled opportunity to get to know her better lingered far longer.

Larry said...

Wise choice. Good to see you made it home safely.

(I took the chance, but I wasn't driving in snow)