Tuesday, November 23, 2010
But by 3:00 it was snowing big flakes and the traffic outside Lukas' daycare was already creeping along. I prepared myself for a longer than normal commute. Little did I know how much longer than normal we would be dealing with.
When all was said and done, Lukas and I has spent 4 1/2 hours driving those 7 miles home. Much of it was spent frustratingly unaware of when or if we were going to move. Luckily I had a fully charged i-pod with some kids videos loaded, and enough snacks to keep Lukas occupied for a while. What I didn't have was any kind of diaper or change of clothes.
At one point, after moving no more than a few car lengths in a couple of hours and with the radio reports indicating that the bridge we were moving towards was a sheet of ice and blocked by a jackknifed bus, I considered pulling the car to a safe spot and walking. After all, people all around us were beginning to abandon their cars to instead brave the elements and walk towards the bridge and the hill beyond. But by that time the sun had already gone down, the skies were dark, and the wind was gusting up to 25mph blowing the snow sideways.
I decided to stick it out in the safety of the car for a while longer. This was not an easy decision as our gas level was nearing the crucial stage. I began to turn off the car to save fuel, starting up again only when we were able to move a length or two. As we inched towards the sheet of ice that was now the bridge, a 16 wheeler merged in and cut us off. This meant that it would attempt to ascend the bridge directly in front of us. This was not a good development.
Once to the bridge, and as the big rig made it about 3/4 of the way up the slope it stopped. It then gunned its gas and its wheels began to spin wildly. There were moments when I was sure it was going to stop and roll back towards us, but instead, ever so slowly the truck began inching its way to the top. I contemplated attempting to go around, but coming down the opposite way, with no barrier, were another line of vehicles. One started to slide sideways towards us, but thankfully slid the other direction into the outer barrier.
All of this time, I kept my car in low gear and tried not to brake, slowly making my way up the hill and hoping the Semi would not stop and block me. At the same time an older guy in a pickup truck was behind me spinning his wheels. He actually pulled up on my right but was blocked in by the outer barrier and the big rig. He stopped, jumped out, and opened his hood. I saw sparks and flames come out from his hood but could do nothing for him so I soldiered slowly on.
It was a pretty harrowing experience, but after about a half an hour on the bridge the Semi made it over the top and we were able to take an exit into our part of town. The only problem was that we were still at the bottom of a very steep hill that we surely couldn't crest with the icy conditions. So, we made an approximately 5 mile circle around the hill, trying to avoid anything too steep. Unfortunately Seattle is full of hills and I finally had to attempt descending one to make it the final couple of miles home.
As I came over the fairly steep hill, I saw that a bus had jackknifed a couple of blocks down. I tried to slow down by pumping on the brakes, but started sliding myself. It was at that very moment that Lukas looked up and announced that he had to pee and couldn't hold it. I then went sideways but was able to straighten myself out at the next cross street and drive up onto a sidewalk next to a tree stopping me. After making sure we weren't going anywhere, I pulled Lukas out in the gusting wind, standing in the abandoned street and pulled down his pants. It was too late, but instead he screamed as his buns instantly felt the cold chill.
Finally, after getting him securely back into the car, I drove down another icy side street, sliding down but missing a parked car at the bottom. From there it was another 5 minutes of relatively flat driving before we pulled in front of our house 4 and a half hours after our adventure began.
Mrs. LIAYF, who during our ordeal could do nothing more than worry about us and provide moral support over the phone, was waiting there with warm dinner and freshly baked cookies. It was only then that I could take a deep breath, unclench my jaw, pour a glass of wine, and be thankful that we had made it home safe.
We stayed home on Tuesday and had a much needed Snow Day.
Photo: West Seattle Blog
Posted by James (SeattleDad) at 2:03 PM