Sunday, March 9, 2014

What It's Like to be Two Texans Lost in in a Snowy Wind Storm

On the morning of Friday, February 21, hubby and i set out on the long trip home from our visit to my family's home in Michigan.  We had gotten a somewhat late start and were on the freeway for only a few minutes when we stopped at a gas station to gas up and get refreshments and a few souvenirs to take home.

We weren't in a huge hurry, and i guess we were in the gas station a little longer than your average gas station visit, and when we were finished and attempted to get back on the freeway to head home, there was a police officer and his vehicle blocking the entrance ramp, pointing in some direction other than the way we wanted to go, and yelling, "go that way!"

Since we aren't exactly native Michigandians, or Michiganders, or whathaveyou, we didn't have a clue where we were headed, and blindly followed the other redirected hoards of cars, while i frantically inquired of gps on my cell phone, to try to find the best the back road route, from wherever we were at the moment, to the next entrance to the freeway.

We followed so many other vehicles through the back roads for 30 minutes or so, and as we did, we witnessed a phenomenon definitely not common to the East Texas woods.  It wasn't snowing, but since it's Michigan, and since 2014 has been like the worst winter - ever - there was plenty of snow on the ground.  A storm was blowing in (we knew this and were trying to get out of Michigan without meeting it), and the wind was blowing the snow across in the roadways in front of us.  It was harrowing, and we were very relieved when we saw the signs leading us back to hwy 127, so we could get back to traveling on roads that at least had been salted and plowed, presumably.

To our great frustration and bewilderment, as we grew closer to the next hwy 127 entrance, it became clear that we weren't getting on at this one either, and we pulled in to the parking lot of a local church near Shepherd Michigan, where a kind-looking lady with short strawberry blonde hair and glasses, was standing in the door, watching for something outside.

I took my cell phone and walked to the church entrance, while hubby waited in the car.  The nice lady opened the front door for me, and asked, "Can i help you?"

"Yes!" i exhaled gratefully, "Can you help me get out of this state?"

The nice lady cracked up laughing as though i had told a very funny joke. 

Through the laughter, i think she inquired as to where we were going, and i protested with my very best Texan accent, "No, really, we live in Texas!  We need to go home!"

Suddenly understanding the literal nature of my initial request, my new friend's laughter turned to concerned compassion, and she solicited the assistance of another very helpful lady, who hurried to find me a local phone book with street maps in the back of it, and began highlighting a route for us to get south of Alma, where reportedly the weather was better, and the freeway was open.

"What happened, anyway?  Do you know?"

"There was a thirty-plus car pile-up.....and a gas truck......"

And at that moment, my attitude turned from frustration with these northerners and their excessive street closures, to peace and gratefulness.  It's amazing how your attitude can change when relieved of its judgmental ignorance.

I thankfully took my highlighted phone book and my new attitude back to the car and shared both with my waiting hubby.  We agreed that it was awfully nice we had been in the gas station instead of on the freeway earlier that day.

As we headed out, i texted home to let my parents know that we weren't caught up in the horrible wreck they would undoubtedly be hearing about on the news, and we took off on our harrowing journey.

Let me reiterate.  All of the normal freeway traffic is now traveling on narrow two-lane back roads, which are not currently employing snow plows, and the accumulation of snow from the last few months, is blowing freely into the road where we are all attempting to travel.  Braking seems like a bad idea..ever.  Pulling over will have you buried in a snow drift in just a few minutes.We must keep going.  And since i wasn't the driver, i took video.  What else is a girl to do?

Here are a couple of snippets.  I'm not a videographer - or apparently someone who can hold her phone level during treacherous snow travel, so tilt your head or something.

The first one is longer, and it shows you what it looked like when you could see where you were going.  There's no need to turn on your volume.  We aren't saying anything interesting.  Mostly, it's the sound of the emergency flashers we kept on to help others see our white car in the blinding snow.

This one is what it looks like when you keep driving even though you can't see anything.  It was kind of amazing.

We are home safe in the land where it doesn't really snow.  Thanks to God and to the nice ladies who gave us their highlighted phone book.

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