It's been a really busy week for us, so we're dragging our feet this dark Friday morning. Today's post is going to actually talk about last Friday - one of the scariest days I've had since we got here. First off, last Friday (to me), was a horrible weather day. The snow was blowing like crazy, the wind was angry and it was super cold. It looked like a blizzard, but there was nothing remotely close to a warning or watch on the weather networks and everyone told me "it's not a blizzard, it's just blowing snow." Well...isn't that what a blizzard is? Snow? Blowing? Blowing snow? Anyone? This looked worse than some of the "blizzards" that we've had, so I didn't see the difference. Colour me confused, because it seemed that since there was no warning, no one was phased by this. I, on the other hand, was freaking out because the airport seems about 1,000 miles away when it's bad weather.
Long story short, I was too chicken to drive out to the airport to pick up Jeff by myself, so I asked one of the neighbours to do it and I'd ride shotgun. Our drive out was okay, we just took our time and it wasn't horrible. However, Jeff got in the truck and we turned the car out of the parking lot...and we were blinded. You literally couldn't see past the end of the truck. The headlights shone about 5 feet in front of the car and it was just pure white. We couldn't figure out how to get from the parking lot onto the road, so we drove really slowly towards the area we thought the road was and started looking for the reflective marker on the side. Jeff had to get out and walk with a flashlight until he found it and then walk back to guide us onto the road. (The last thing you'd want is to be stuck in the ditch with no one around to pull you out - by then, we'd probably just have to abandon the truck and find shelter until someone could come pull us out.) It took about 10 minutes, but we finally found the road and pointed the truck towards the middle.
And the anxiety built from there.
The airport road doesn't have lights on it. There are no lights from nearby buildings or anything - it is pitch dark on either side of the road, in front of you, behind you. There are markers on the side of the road closer to the lake - green ones are indicative of a straight path, and orange ones mean the road is turning/curving. They're spaced about 10 feet apart (give or take).
When we got on the road and started driving there were a few things we had to be cautious of:
- snow drifts on the road that could look like they're nothing, but they're deeper than you think (so you could get stuck)
- veering off the road because you can't see the edge of the gravel and you could get stuck in the ditch
- where the next marker was to make sure you were actually on the road
We drove at about 2 km/h and strained to see where the next marker was before we moved forward. I'd heard of low visibility when it snowed, but never had I imagined what it could be like. When the markers turned from green to orange, Jeff got out of the car and walked ahead of us so we could follow him to the next marker as the road curved. If we didn't do that, we couldn't gauge where the road was and we would have likely gotten stuck in the ditch.
I'm an anxious driver in bad weather and this was...I can't even put into words how scary this was. To be in a car with no visibility and no lights to guide you...there's such a feeling of helplessness. And I wasn't even the driver! Each marker we passed felt like a fleeting victory as we searched for the next one and slowly made our towards home.
All in all, there were 53 markers if I counted correctly.
53 agonizing green and orange flashes before we could get off that road and into town.
Never in my life have I been so excited to see a street light when the first one came into view.
The rest of the ride was fine once we were in town and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief when we put the car into park. Again, we lucked out having amazing neighbours - because honestly, there was no way I would have been able to do that without help.