Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Seattle in only 8.5 Hours

'Tis the season to visit out-of-town relatives, so, with my heart in my mouth, we set out on Friday to drive to Oregon. Actually, M did most of the driving, and we were pleasantly surprised to find most of the major roads were not too bad in spite of the snowfall that has blanketed the Seattle area. I think we made the trip in about five hours which is only half an hour longer than normal. We visited family and friends for three days and generally tried not to think too hard about what might be happening at home and in between. Then, yesterday, it was time to return to Seattle.

We set out from Corvallis just before 10am. For the first 30 or 40 miles, things were pretty good. Some light snow was falling, but the road was clear most of the time. Then we came to Salem, and the snowing started in earnest. By the time we came to Portland, you could not see any black on the road, and the traffic was moving at 0-10 miles per hour. Luckily, M really is a good driver (and we were lucky) because we really didn't have any terrifying moments. We saw many terrifying moments happening around us though.

People were slipping all over the place, and we witnessed more than one accident as it happened. We saw a large American car in the ditch with lights on, people sitting inside, and windshield wipers waving. We saw a Jeep that had skidded into a concrete divider, done at least a 180, and ended up facing the wrong way in the "fast" lane. Come to think of it, the worst (in terms of bone-headedness) drivers were all in Jeeps and red Jeeps especially.

One red jeep decided that he didn't want to crawl along in traffic, so he drove between two columns of cars with barely any clearance on either side. He kept having force his way into the row of cars when the gap narrowed, and this caused everyone around him to slam on brakes to avoid him. He ended up driving on the shoulder as well. Another red Jeep decided to bunny hop the traffic until he nearly got creamed by a semi that couldn't stop.

Snow seems to bring out the best and the worst in the average driver. Subaru drivers tend to be more sensible (I know I'm biased) even though they have better traction than most. The key to driving in this kind of weather seems to be remembering that ice is ice no matter what kind of car you're driving. A really thick, slippery patch of ice will cause ANY car, with ANY tires to slip. Besides, even if you are the world's best driver in the world's best car, you cannot control the people around you. Therefore, you still have drive with caution and not behave like a stupid wally (as M would say).

Anyway, we made it home safe, and the only bit of road that was too much for the Subaru was our own driveway. She got stuck half way up in the deep snow. Luckily, my experience with owning a silly, rear-wheel drive car stood me in good stead because I remembered how you can create traction by raking the snow into roughness. Sure enough, the car went up just fine after that. Only 8.5 hours to get home, and we are very glad to be here safe and sound.

No comments: