• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Sunday, December 26, 2010

FOG going

We took a little trip the week before Christmas.
Only about 6 hours of driving.
Imagine great-granny saying that.
How far would a buggy get her in 6 hours ...

I love our warm, fast, smooth riding car.
I love our paved freeways.
Whenever I travel I rejoice in these simple conveniences.

I remember choking-dust rumbling, gravel roads and when we considered them wonderful. I personally didn't as I didn't like grit between my teeth or breathing thickened air.  I remember my father speeding through the trailing cloud of dust from a vehicle in front of us while my mother's tense white knuckles belied the calm of her voice begging him to slow down. She hated the mud of get-stuck-in-the-dirt roads and never complained about graveled roads but she choose to not drive in dusty reduced visibility.  She slowed down and let the air clear - I liked that!

I remember my dad driving over hill and dale (that means literally through fields) and carefully negotiating along rutted dirt roads, one wheel on the hump of the grass centre and the other bumping along the grass and rocks on the right side - then when someone was coming from the other way you only had to move one wheel into the rut long enough to pass.  Those roads could so easily tear a car to pieces.  No problem though - dad would just get some 'baling wire' and fix the problem! He was good at that.  Almost anything that was 'haywire' could be fixed out there miles from anywhere except a hole in the oil pan - that was serious.  He was very careful to not hit larger rocks etc and knock a hole in it.

Our trip was safe and adventuresome.  Roads going southeast were a bit 'Canadian' and coming home northwest we had some fog to provide some excitement.

There is an infamous hill in Oregon known as Cabbage Hill.
I don't know why it is called that or it's history.

I do know it's treacherous nature and, like all travelers of the area, have had a few experiences there that are etched into my memory.  (Ask me and I will tell you a fun story or two - or just click on the links above for less personal ones.) The views from the top looking over the valley below are spectacular. We stop and stretch our legs there at the viewpoint sometimes even though there is no 'rest area'.

We are from Canada and accustomed to winter driving.  At first roads were bare and wet. Later roads were not great but certainly seemed passable to us. Our car has good fog lights, good tires and even in the snow we could mostly see the lane markers and the highway had been plowed.

As we neared the top of Cabbage Hill we noticed a back log of traffic headed the opposite way (down) along the freeway. We knew chains were being required for trucks and so assumed some of it was trucks chaining up etc.

When it continued for many miles we knew there was a problem on that side of the road. I felt bad for travelers sitting    as if double parked, in a jammed up snarl.

The scariest part was watching frustrated motorists begin to turn around and drive the wrong way along the shoulder of the freeway.  We watched some arrive past the back of the snarl and continue towards on coming  semi trucks! They all slowed to a stop but there were a few very scary moments there.  I watched to see where the nearest exit off was - not for at least 10 more miles!

Not to worry I thought - we are going the other way. What will be will be!

I am still wondering about the prudence of their actions. What does one do in desperate circumstances? How do we make such critical decisions? We each do the best we can with the information and tools available and later with hindsight congratulate or berate ourselves with hindsight. We each have the light of Christ - guidance from him available to us if we choose to accept it. During our most difficult times help and hope is available - choosing it is all up to us - do we bother to even pray? To ask God what to do or for His help?

Snow increased and visibility decreased.  Not cool! The lane markers became covered with packed snow and in places we could tell that earlier the roadway had been slushy because deep ruts had frozen and now presented a driving hazard.

Plows were working but road conditions did not improve. Eventually
barricades closed the highway and we spent the night in a hotel.

 The next morning we continued. The roads needed the plows more but at least morning was shedding some light on the mess and temperatures were rising.

Plows were abundant.  Thankfully traffic was not - mostly.  We came upon a couple of plows working in tandem and totally blocking the freeway traffic to a snails pace.  Thankfully for many miles that only meant us. I snapped a few pictures showing the mush they were clearing.

Eventually others began to pile up and crowd in - we slowed down and let them. Soon the plows had quite a following.  We considered that more danger than the road conditions and slowed enough that we were not in the 'sandwich' zone.

When the plows turned onto an off ramp to clear it we breathed a sigh of relief. This photo shows them running parallel to the freeway clearing the ramp.

Frankly anyone that needed to use that ramp was likely glad too!

Sometimes it is better to not be part of a crowd.  Later we saw a semi that had rolled over like a puppy wanting a tummy scratch.  It lay between the east/west freeway in the middle of the deep snow of the median. Apparently several such accidents had closed the road the night before.

Glad I was in a hotel!!
That was a Christmas gift - at least that is what we called it.  Our Santa money paid for that hotel.  Is safety a gift? YES!! It definitely is.

I will post the trip home later!