Monday, February 28, 2011

More Driving Challenges

Two weekends ago, Fairbanks got dumped on snow wise. Some reports say up to 18 inches. All I know is that my car looked like this one morning, and this was after I had cleared it off the night before.

My advice: don't drop your keys in the snow -- they are almost impossible to find. And should you lock your keys in the trunk of your car...well, that's a story for another post.

All this new snow created additional driving challenges for me. Let's start with, how do you know where to drive on the road? Honestly I had an easier time driving a clutch, on the left side of the road, in Ireland. (The sheep were an issue but that's a story for another blog!)

Driving on snow covered roads is not as simple as, follow the car in front of you, or follow the tracks from previous cars. You'd think it would be that easy, but for me, not so much. I spent the entire weekend shouting, "where is the road?" Some of the roads around here are two-lane but when covered in snow I can't tell if I'm even on the road much less in the correct lane! Heck, I know a few times I drove over the sidewalk when making a right-hand turn! I thought some of the roads were three-lane until my expert on all things Fairbanks, Jeff, straight me straight while choking on laughter. 

Many times I have driven blocks out of my way simply because I couldn't see where the left-turn lane was and I kept going until I came to an intersection where things were more clear. Other times I find myself making left turns when I want to go straight, because the cars in front of me are suddenly turning left and I realize that I am in the left-turn lane. Sometimes it's impossible to distinguish the edge of the road from the snow bank. And when you've been advised to stay away from the snow bank particularly after a fresh snow fall because if your wheels get in that fresh snow it'll suck your car in, well, let's just say this is why my glass recycling bin is so full!

When I took this picture the visibility was actually much worse. For some reason the picture is so much more clear! There was snow blowing across the road. I was on my way home from the "other side of town" and wasn't sure I was going to make it! Of course some people, I'm sure, would argue that I was but mere blocks from home and didn't know it.

I passed several accidents and of course had to gloat that I had nothing to do with them!

In this picture the car that you see the taillights of, came into the intersection from the right, slid through the intersection, did a 360 and ended up facing the wrong way in the left-turn lane. I watched the whole thing and all I could think was, I hope I can get my camera out fast enough to take a picture!

And then, one morning while driving on Eielson, some guy in a gargantuan truck had the nerve to pass me! Passing is rare in Fairbanks. You have to be driving 25mph on the expressway before someone will pass you in anything but the most polite of ways. You can imagine my shock when, going the posted speed limit, this truck barrels past me, causing snow to blow up on my windshield causing temporary white out conditions. And this wasn't after a morning of embarrassing shenanigans at the checkpoint and he was trying to get a look at the fool behind the wheel. No, this was blatant, get out of my way, passing.  Or so I thought. I relayed the story to Jeff, in all my righteous indignation to which he said, "well you know it is a two-lane road at that point. He was probably just using the other lane." Oh. No, I did not know that. Well then, carry on.

I did have a brief driving reprieve one day last week. Fairbanks experienced tropical temperatures of 22 degrees. I actually put my window down for part of the drive home. Wind (albeit brisk) in my face, sun on my arm, heater full blast on my feet, speeding down the expressway at 70mph...glorious.

1 comment:

  1. Love reading the entertaining way you articulate your adventures, Heather! All these years did you think those of us who were living in snow country were having it easy? Ha. ANYBODY can drive well (well, almost anybody) if s/he can see where the road is. It takes advanced skills to rise to the challenge of driving when one cannot tell what the road looks like and where the lanes are. Think of it as driving by braille. If you feel gravel underneath, well, maybe you're on the shoulder. If you find yourself climbing, maybe you've encountered a snowbank left thoughtfully by the snowplow to guide you back onto the road. If the car begins to tilt precariously, you're likely in the ditch. Simple really, once you get the hang of it.
    When a terrible unanticipated storm came up here and the plows were pulled off the road for their safety(--who knew they did that? No one told me, and I was still out there --) I drove blind and just encouraged myself to try not to hit any buildings. That was the only way to tell what wasn't road when everything was white. A few kind people had big lights on their barns and that was a help. I made it home safely, glad to have met with the challenge and thankful. It was an hour before I realized that my teeth were still clenched from the tension and my eyes were sore from straining to see something through the whiteouts. It's said that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger; however, it's probably a good idea not to test this out too often when it comes to snow and cold.
    We're deep in snirt right now. Snirt, in case you don't call it that there or on the off chance that you don't have any, is snow + dirt. Not pretty.
    Thanks for your sharings. All the best. Love, Canada Chris