Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Where Have You Been

With a flurry of posts, I have returned to blogging. It's been quite a week just passed. There was mandatory safety training, but there was, also, a trip west, to Iowa, in the teeth of a late winter storm.

I knew I had to do this job. I'd put it off for a few days and then real life intervened and I was needed in the office and it was inconvenient for the client for me to come. That forced me to drive west into what looked to be fierceness and potential blizzard conditions. I was so nervous about this, I didn't sleep well on Monday night, March 4th. I was up and out the door by 7 a.m. on Tuesday, March 5th.

My thinking was that because Interstate 80 is sort of the artery of the nation, states are going to dedicate resources to keeping that open. So, instead of driving directly to my mother's, I opted to stick to the main Interstates. Plus, if something bad happened, my chances of getting help were exponentially greater being on that road than being on State highway 64.

I left in the snow. Roads were, as the top photo shows, wet. I had spent a lot of time on Monday night looking at the weather charts and maps, plotting my route versus what the weathermen were predicting. There was no doubt about it. I was driving straight into this. Tuesday morning, I threw an extra blanket, water and my last box of Girl Scout cookies into the back seat.

It was fairly smooth driving. For the most part, the road in Illinois was wet. I had to slow down three times because of slush on the highway. It was a steady 60 miles per hour dropping down to 45. The only times I got very nervous were when I was passed by a semi and slush from the wheels covered the windshield for 10 seconds while the wipers worked furiously to clear the crud.

There were never white out conditions and I saw some plows just sitting in the median waiting for something more to do. It was still heavily snowing at the Mississippi River and Davenport. But, after filling the Jeep with gas, I headed west and the snow disappeared. By Iowa City, the pavement had nearly dried.

By Cedar Rapids, it was dry.

Traffic was steady. Had something gone wrong, I would not have been alone for long. This was very comforting. The storm warning was still up on the board outside Iowa City although the storm had, for the most part, passed through Iowa by the time I got there.

The road to mom's house was a experience. You turn right off the highway onto a gravel road.'s only been plowed one lane wide.

Oh boy. Well, stop, breathe, put the Jeep in 4-wheel drive and go slow. I can handle this. I crossed one road, plowed about as well as this and headed towards the next cross road, Fairchild. About a quarter of a mile from the cross of Wileys and Fairchild this one lane plowed went to this.

This wasn't even plowed. The wind had not picked up at this point, that was to come with the setting of the sun. Oh brother. I'm going to have to make my own track to the farm. Heaven help me if I have to move over. I know this road but I don't know exactly where the ditches are and they are filled with snow.

I got to Fairchild and this is what Wileys Road looked like.

From Fairchild east to the farm, and beyond, Wileys had been completely plowed. My mother wasn't sure why. There are no kids on this stretch of road. Back where I was, there are kids and a school bus would have needed to navigate a one lane stretch and then figure out whether to go through the unplowed portion, had there been school, of course. This is the kind of weather they close schools for. I still drove gingerly to the farm. I put the Jeep in the ditch at Christmas. I wasn't taking any chances.

The next day, roads had been cleared and the drive home, after meeting with the client, was much more calm. I chose to take Highway 20 across northern Illinois. It's a heavily traveled road and I felt 24 hours would have given the plows a chance to make it a good drive.

The thing about these late winter snows is the high moisture content. East of Galena, the snow stuck to the trees left a gorgeous image.

Farther east, along highway 20, the hills of western Illinois were lovely.

I came home to the remnants of 8 inches.

It sort of looks like frosting or marshmallow fluff. A neighbor had, during the storm on Tuesday, blown out my driveway so I didn't have to plow through 8 inches to get to the back.

There was melting already going on. I shoveled a bit off the deck and left the rest. Pam came by on Wednesday morning to check on the girls and had shoveled off a bit of the front steps.

By Sunday, all of this was gone, and then some.

Now, will this be the last dumping of the season? I sort of hope so. While standing in my house watching it snow is delightful and seeing the aftermath outlining the landscape can be breathtaking, I'm ready for spring. I need new tires on the Jeep so travel in snow isn't something I really want to do anymore. Surprisingly, I didn't have my RA flare up on me. I thought for sure I'd have a flare, since I'd had a flare at Christmas. Not at all. I planned for the worst and got the best. I'll take that. Now, bring on spring.

So, that's where I've been. 

Beverage:  Yorkshire Gold tea


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