Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snowmageddon, Day 4

There's some dispute on what day of Snowmageddon this actually is. Might be day 5. Time is beginning to blur, the days to blend together. Fortunately food is still plentiful and the power is on, so we're not resorting to cooking the young. Yet.

No pictures today, because I didn't want any photographic evidence of the mornitude on the roads. But moronitude there was. Oh yes. And only some of it was mine.

Mine started with the idea that I wanted to go to the mall. Why, you ask? Well, because there were a couple things I wanted to get, and I wanted to browse the no-doubt stupidly low prices thanks to the tanking economy and all. So I hopped in the ol' Legacy and headed out in to the world.

Now, as a reminder, it's been snowy here for several days. Which is more than normal...our usual snow pattern is it snows at night, sticks around for the morning commute, then melts. Or maybe stays a day and then melts. Well, this has done neither. So the roads are seriously fucked up, to use the technical DOT term. For more evidence see the sledding pictures from yesterday's post, 'cause they were taken on the street a block away. So anyhow, I was expecting some slow going, but with the Subaru's AWD I figured there wouldn't be a problem. Oh, and I also figured the main arterials would be plowed and sanded and fairly passable.

All of this was true. But what I forgot to factor in were the other idiots on the road. Well, that and the haphazard plowing / melting of the snow.

The first rough patch was about three blocks from home. Our street runs north/south, and if you head north you come to a fairly major street with a very slight hill to get to it. That's the preferred exit route in snow, 'cause the other streets leading up to our main arterial are steep and nasty. The problem is that everyone and their dog knows this, and some of those dogs have chains. So the last block of our street was effectively a mogul field. Which is to say bumpy.

The second rough patch came when I turned and headed east toward the mall. While Greenwood, the arterial I'd been on, was melted down to the pavement (in one lane, anyway, and really that was all I needed), this other street was not. Well, the left lane had bare patches in the tire tracks - in fact, it was more bare than icy - but the right lane was a nightmare. And as a result, we were basically stop and go for 20 blocks. Then after we crossed Highway 99 we cruised at speed for another 5 or 6 blocks before slowing to a crawl again for the last half mile to the freeway and the mall.

The mall itself was fine. Toys R Us was crowded, but they didn't have what I needed anyway so no harm done. Eddie Bauer was great - 30% off and two people in line at the cashier. Brookstone was a bit more challenging, since the store was packed, I couldn't find what I was looking for, and the line was about 10 people deep. And, naturally, when I was half way to the checkout I finally saw the thing I went there to get, so I had to jump out of line. But still, nothing I wouldn't expect on the 23rd of December.

Then the fun began. I needed to get one more thing, and to get it I needed to go either to Target or Fred Meyer. They're in opposite directions. Target was closer, so I figured I'd head there first. That was mistake number one. No, correct that...mistake number one was not just leaving my car parked at the mall and walking to Target. I was already at the north end of the mall, it was only a few blocks to Target, so there's really no excuse. But I didn't think of that until I was in the car and driving. And by that time it was too late, 'cause the parking lot was full either of cars or snow. So after sitting in a line of cars trying to get out of the lot to the north, I decided to reverse course and head to Fred Meyer instead.

Had this drive been a "chose your adventure" book, at several points I would have flipped back and made different choices. One of those was the "left or right" choice out of the mall lot. I went left, thinking that while the road on that side was a little steeper, it was also busier so it would likely be a better surface. True, but what I failed to account for was the heavier traffic and the stuck bus. That added about 5 minutes to the drive, as we all inched around the bus by driving in to oncoming traffic. After that it was pretty smooth (well, except for another mogul field or six) to the next big east-west street, which then bogged down as well. After doing the stop/go thing for 10 blocks or so I got to Highway 99 again and realized the problem: There was only one lane going up the hill on the other side of the intersection. Our two lanes were compressing in to one, and that one was barely moving. So I hopped on 99, headed north 5 blocks, and then headed west again on an unplowed, lightly traveled street. Where, again, the Subaru AWD made life if not easy at least possible.

The next piece of excitement came as I headed down the hill toward Greenwood again. As I waited for a light to change I watched three guys trying to get a pickup some traction - it wasn't going to happen. Then the light changed, the truck in front of me turned, and I was faced with...two cars. Yes, some genius had decided that he should drive in the left lane to get around the guy in the right lane who was waiting for the light. And to top it off, while he had put in the effort to put on chains, he'd apparently lost one 'cause there was only a chain on the right front wheel. The left one was spinning away happy as a clam, with no traction at all. Well, not quite none...between it and the chained one he managed to get back in his lane so I could continue on to Fred Meyer, buy Elf and go home.

So tomorrow's goal is to not leave the house. Or if I do, to only leave on foot. 'cause damn, while it was an adventure, it wasn't that much fun.

1 comment:

merlin4012 said...

Adventures aren't fun. Bilbo Baggins made that point way back in the Third Age of Middle Earth. I don't know where they got their rep for being fun.