Well, it’s October, and you know what that means up here in North Dakota…
Well, yes, it means fall colors, football and Halloween.
But it also means that weather phenomenon that so many folks despise will be upon us…
Yes, it is akin to a four letter word up in these parts (and I surmise anywhere that sees snow).
And knowing that snow becomes more of a possibility as the days and weeks wear on, it got me thinking a bit.
I have a road trip coming up (yes, I’ll be driving south to much warmer weather), and I’ve been keeping an eye on extended forecasts, which right now look good.
But there have been many times when the weather wasn’t so good when I’ve been on the highway.
I’ve driven through dense smoke (visibility less than a quarter mile) in Georgia and Florida.
I’ve been behind the wheel during torrential thunderstorms…and even a tropical storm .
That latter one wasn’t fun crossing the Howard Frankland Bridge between Tampa and Saint Petersburg with sheets of rain and winds gusting to 60 MPH plus.
I have driven many times in the snow having lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming and now here.
I usually do pretty well in the snow, as I’ve driven in it quite often, and I simply slow down and take it easy.
However, one night, returning from a story (a story about icy roads and wrecks), I lost control of the news vehicle I was in (back end slid out on me), and suddenly, I was doing a couple of 360′s on Interstate 80 just outside of Cheyenne.
While I was terrified, when I finally got the vehicle to stop (as it was sliding backwards towards a ravine), the photographer I was with thought it was a pretty awesome little adventure we just had!
But by far and away the most challenging, and feared (at least for me), type of weather to drive in has been freezing rain.
When there are solid sheets of wet ice on the roads, it can be next to impossible to drive in it.
I’ve seen cars lose control…I’ve been part of a mass of cars that took over thirty minutes to get up a small hill in Oklahoma City.
It once took me over an hour to get home on ice, when the trip normally took about ten minutes.
And it wasn’t because of wrecks…it was because you just had to drive that slow or risk losing control.
I recall coming to a stop light, and I hit the brakes…but nothing happened…I slid at about the ten miles per hour I was going.
And the car coming into the intersection slid in slow motion just past the front of my car.
I remember looking at him, and him looking at me, and we both shrugged knowing we had no control on stopping our cars at that moment.
I’m just glad the cars missed each other, although with as slow as we were going, it would have a been a very minor collision.
I imagine many of you have similar stories, if not even more dramatic ones.
I’m just glad mine have been less so.
In fact, my only car crash (which wasn’t my fault, by the way) happened in broad daylight with dry roads.
Anyway, driving is a challenge in and of itself.
And when you throw in the veritable potpourri of weather that we can sometimes see, it makes it even more challenging…and sometimes impossible.
I just hope there aren’t too many times this winter that I’m driving with those white knuckles.