Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Not as Fun as it Sounds

The announcement came to me at about 2PM on Monday.  Due to inclement conditions my work was closing at 3:00.  Perfect, I thought. That should give me enough time to pick up Lukas and drive him the 7 miles home while it was still light out.  Perhaps we could even make a foray out into the snow with the brand new sled I had purchased the day before.

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


Anonymous said...

Dude I am glad you are both safe and that his twig and berries don't have frost bite.

Steve said...

I caught this on twitter. So glad you guys made it back in one piece. I think I'd have chickened out and made camp in the nearest motel!

Juli said...

Memories are made of all kinds of triumphs. Gald you made it home safe.

Captain Dumbass said...

Yikes. Glad you guys got home safe. It didn't snow as bad as we thought up here. Now it's just cold as hell.

Ordinary Dad said...

wow! that was rough! Never experienced anything that bad even when I lived in the Pocono mountains of PA. Glad your still alive to blog about it though!

dbs said...

Whoa. Glad you wrote about it. Now you can let it go.

Papa K said...

Dude... I got super stressed just reading that!

James (SeattleDad) said...

@DC - Twigs and Berries doing fine. Lol.

@Steve - We were kind of stuck and a ways away from a hotel option.

@Julianna - Memories and Posts!

@Captain - Yeah, it is cold here now too. Meaning the ice is sticking around.

@Ordinary Dad - Thanks. Yeah, that is the worst I have ever experienced.

@dbs - Just thought it would make for a good post. No pressure to get it off my chest. Thanks for stopping by though.

@PapaK - Yeah, I kept my cool but inside I was stressed during that time.


Playstead said...

Oh man that's the worst. I've been there -- 3 1/2 hours home in a Seattle snowstorm with a 2 year old and a 7 year old who kept saying,
"Geez, can't we go faster??"

I just pointed to all the cars in the ditch.

Dan said...

Sounds bloody horrific!

If I Could Escape . . . said...

Holy shitballs! You retell that so calmly, but how awful it must have been. So glad you and Lukas made it home safe and sound. x

SciFi Dad said...

That's insane. I've had days like that, but I live in Canada, so it's not as surprising as your experience.

I'm glad everyone was OK.

Kevin said...

I'm glad you two are safe. I hate winter for this reason. I refuse to travel when the weather is bad. I've had my fair share of accidents and close calls on snowy and icey roads growing up in rurul Indiana. Be safe!

Keith Wilcox said...

you're right. Making it home after that ordeal is, indeed, something to be thankful for! Jeez. I guess seattle doesn't typically get that kind of storm. Crazy.

Jack Steiner said...

That sounds like one hell of a trip. Yikes.

Mrs. M said...

It's just been nasty out - so frustrating to have to sit in your car for so long, but glad you - eventually - made it home safely. I drove from Bellingham to Vancouver (WA) on Monday and it was a pretty stressful experience..but fortunately I left early enough that I missed MOST of the major delays. Only took 5.5 hours instead of the usual 4.