Made it home last night, but that drive is quite possibly the worst drive I’ve ever faced. It was the only time I can think of that I really probably shouldn’t have been driving. When I left campus, it was doing this light frozen drizzly stuff and I wasn’t too worried. But just as I’d gotten out of town on the little highway (19) and was still a few miles from the interstate, it got bad. Big, heavy, wet snowflakes not falling, but being blown horizontally bad. I could hardly see the side of the road. There was no traffic, so no tracks to follow to be sure I was staying in my lane. I wanted to pull off the side of the road somewhere, but I was out in rural Minnesota, and couldn’t see any driveways or side roads and was afraid of ending up in a ditch. So I kept going, and kept up a mantra: “I will drive slowly, I will drive carefully, I will make it home safe.” I hugged the side of the road, since that was the only guide I could find for staying on the road, and at least I knew I wouldn’t stray into the lane of the oncoming traffic. But I figured that if I was doing that, anyone following me would do that, too, so just stopping on the shoulder wouldn’t be a good idea since that might end in my car being hit from behind. And would I just spend the night in the car? What do people do if they pull off the side of the road in bad weather? Eventually I got to the entrance to the interstate, and I could see that there were at least some other vehicles, mostly semis, driving. I have never been so happy to see those big trucks lumbering down I-35. If they were driving on the road, then surely I could do that, too. I got onto the interstate and it was better. I got into the right lane, behind another car – that was going really slowly – and just followed it at a respectful distance, finally believing that I would make it home. And indeed, the rest of the drive was slow, and there were some nerve-wracking parts, but nothing like trying to stay on the little highway 19 on the way to the interstate. I finally got home an hour 15 minutes after leaving – normally, it’s a 40 minute drive. On bad winter drives, my carpool keeps track of the number cars we see in the ditch – mostly a way to judge just how bad things are, and to remind ourselves to drive carefully so as not to become some other carpool’s statistic. That whole drive, I never saw a car in the ditch, but that’s likely due to the fact that it was late at night (I didn’t make it home until 11:30), and the fact that all of my concentration was focused on watching the road and the car in front of me.
All last night, I kept having a recurring dream of me driving on highway 19 through the snow and coming up on another car and trying to stop, but not being able to.
It’s time for spring.