Winter driving can be very hazardous, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Caution, awareness, and patience are key to making it safely to your destination.
Being retired allows us time to travel when it’s best. Before retirement, we had deadlines to be home regardless of the weather. Sometimes the weather dictated whether we made it or not. Once we drove in a Wyoming blizzard, going from one delinator post to the next one, creeping along as the snow blinded us beyond seeing twenty feet. We followed a semi into Lusk, Wyoming and found a hotel where we were stuck for two days waiting for the storm to end and the road to be plowed. We were younger then and less smart.
Before we travel anywhere in winter, Hubby and I study road reports and weather forecasts. We adjust our driving time to get where we’re going without pushing beyond the limits of our driving abilities. We’ve begun stopping for the night by dark or shortly before because neither of us can see all that well in the dark. Bright headlights hurt our eyes and blind us more easily. It’s best for us be off the roads at night.
On our recent trip to Oregon, we left a day early to beat a storm that was forecasted to hit Jackson, Wyoming. We got safely over Togwotee Pass, through Jackson, and on to Idaho Falls while the roads were dry. They got dumped on the next day. We also beat the snow in the Blue Mountains of Oregon and got to Pendleton before the snow hit. The forecast was for rain from Pendleton on. We can handle rain while driving so we could relax after that.
We left a day early to come home (Thursday) because of a Montana snowstorm starting on Monday and lasting all week. We’d planned to spend a couple of days in Boise visiting friends and favorite stores, but a snowstorm closed Interstate 84 from Pendleton to Boise. So disappointing, but Mother Nature cannot be argued with. That pushed us to a northern route through Washington, northern Idaho, and Montana. The big storm was south of there so we didn’t expect snow on the way home.
We were wrong. It snowed on us the first day. Once we drove out of the snow, we hit wind which polished the snowpacked roads into ice. Western Washington had the most treacherous roads we’ve been on in many years. We skated along at 35 mph most of the way, all the while being passed by vehicles going 50 or 60. How they didn’t end up the ditch I can only wonder. We did. Even at 35. Ended up in the ditch. We were thankful for our 4-wheel drive because we drove out of our predicament.
Staying in Spokane, Washington, the next day was overcast but not snowing. However, we had several mountain passes to cross. Snow was deep up high, but the road crews had done a good job clearing the roads. Snow is easier to drive on than ice because it affords a degree of traction. It requires slow travel, but we had the time. The mountains were really beautiful for the passenger. The driver didn’t get to enjoy the scenery as much. Again, vehicles zoomed around us. We passed a bunch of slideoffs and one accident.
During the last day of travel, we had ground blizzards for a while. Those are when the wind is blowing snow around at ground level. It’s hard to drive in because they obscure the road and the icy spots so it’s hazardous. The snow swirls and moves in different directions. If you stare at the road, the moving snow makes you dizzy so you have to focus ahead and not on where you’re about to go. The delineator posts stick up above it so you can stay on the road, but it’s tricky staying in your lane. When a truck goes past, it throws up enough snow to cause whiteout for several seconds which is unnerving. Once we got past them, the road was dry. We made good time the rest of the way home.
By taking it slow and easy and tons of prayers by us, family, and friends, Hubby and I got home safely. For that we give thanks. But please, don’t anyone ask us to travel again this winter. We’ve had our fill for now.
Lari’s sister and husband went through some of those days also on their way down to AZ from MN — arrived safely took some altlernate routes, stopped extra hours for awhile. Darn weather can do so much to us. Loved following your trip, and glad you were able to spend time with family. Happy New Year!
We got through the bad road safely, but then found Covid had jumped in the car with us. We’re thankful we’re fully vaccinated and boosted so it’s not been too bad for us as we slowly recover.
I love the snow. I no longer play in it. The pure look of the white blanket brings a calming to everting it touches. No longer does any outside task invite me to take care of it.
Then life requires involvement. The first steps destroy a piece of the beauty that God provided. Then the long drive to the road is is interrupted. We are counting on the roads to be cleared, sanded, and salted. For this safety we create an ugliness to the snow. At this point the snow is no longer wanted and I wish for it to go away quickly.
When I was young the Air Force stationed me in Germany. I was able to enjoy living in both Wiesbaden and Bitburg. My stay at Bitburg I lived off base, requiring I travel. We were warned repeatedly to be cautious. Having lived most of my school life in Colorado with snow and snow then Oklahoma with black ice I was sure I was qualified.
When the first snow hit I was prideful in my ability. I loaded up my wife and two boys and off to the commissary for grocery’s. It was with dissatisfaction that within a quarter mile of the house I made a judgment err and found the VW Van was slowly tipping over on its side. No one was hurt and we were upright within minutes thanks to a neighbor and tractor. I had a few other vehicle encounters while in Germany caused by judgment errs. I was blessed to of always survived with out massive damage to me, passengers and my auto.
I’ve seen and even traveled quite fast on the Autobahn in bad conditions. My safety depended on the driver in front of me not slowing or making a err. I have since semi-retirement resolved to stay home until their is no slickness to the roads.
Your adventure from start to finish was a grand one. You traveled, had enjoyment, excitement, difficulty and survived the environment. It is always a joy to hear a good ending.
I love seeing an untouched field of snow too. It’s also interesting to see what might be wandering around too. The main thing is to be careful when we have to go out in it. At our age, falling is as dangerous as driving a car in snow.