My car never made it home last night. It spent the overnight hours parked about a half mile from me in a stranger’s driveway. More on that in a minute.
Late yesterday evening we started to get rain and sleet here in Connecticut. Though it was forecast, it came an hour or two early. At cloud level temperatures were above freezing. It was a different story on the ground. As soon as the rain hit, it froze.
At work we saw it on our traffic cameras and even ran an advisory on the air. Whatever we could do, we did.
Leaving work at 11:35, my car was covered with a thin sheet of ice. Actually, it was Steffie’s car! My car, a little rear wheel 2-seater, doesn’t leave the garage on days like this.
I chipped the ice off, but it was obvious as I slipped across the parking lot, braking action would be low.
The scene on I-91 was surreal. There were at least a dozen spin outs and accidents. It was an equal opportunity storm – trucks, cars, 4WD SUVs all off to the side.
I am normally a speedy driver. Last night I moved along at 20-30 mph on the Interstate. Unfortunately, conditions like this create extra problems because the difference between the fastest and slowest cars get large. Some people were doing 20 mph. Others were doing 50 mph.
I exited to the Hamden Connector and really slowed down. This wide stretch of highway… the one place where I have opened it up to see how fast my car would go… was empty, and I was petrified. I slowed down to about 15 mph.
The road surface glistened. Rain was falling. My defroster was able to handle the lower reaches of the windshield, but ice was spreading downward from the top. On each sweep of the windshield wiper I could hear the blade scrape the solid surface. It was a reminder things were getting worse.
I took the local road through my town and then turned up a broad, freshly paved and regraded road – a road with a significant grade.
Eggshells. That’s what I tried to remember. Drive like my foot and the gas were separated by eggshells. Don’t break the shell. I slowed to 10 mph.
I turned onto the last well traveled street before my home, but felt very uncomfortable. I tapped the brake lightly, but there was little response other than the chugging of the ABS system.
There was one more dip to make before turning onto my street. I let the car slow to a crawl and hit the brake again. Nothing. I slid. There was no way I was going to make that dip.
All I could picture was sliding down into the abyss, Steffie’s car hitting a tree or sliding off the road and into a brook. I stopped at the edge of the dip. It was reminiscent of me standing along the edge of a swimming pool, deciding whether or not to jump in.
I wimped out.
There was a driveway to my left. I tried to pull in, but there wasn’t enough traction to turn. Now I got scared. I backed up a few feet to lessen the angle of the turn and tried again.
It was about 12:10 AM when I knocked on the door of the house whose driveway I had just entered. There were lights on and a TV visible. Of course I could leave my car there.
It took about 10 minutes to walk from there home. The side of the road had enough rough surface to give me traction, but if a car had come along, I would have quickly moved into the snowy shoulder.
I was caked in ice by the time I hit the front door.
I’ve lived in Buffalo. Driving in snow doesn’t scare me. I know what to do and how to handle myself. but there’s no one capable of safely transversing this stuff. It was treacherous and unforgiving. I’m glad I got close to home before giving up the car.
Today, with temperatures in the 40s, Helaine dropped me off to pick up the car. No one was home, so I opened the door of their Jeep and dropped off a box of candies as a thank you.
It was a good and nice thing to do – I’m glad I did it. It was totally Helaine’s idea. Give her the credit.
So, how did you spend your Thursday night?