Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snowy drive

I'm from the Chicago area so a little snow doesn't bother me. But Friday night's drive home in the snow? That was a little tense.

I drove the boys to Urbana to spend the weekend with Grandma and Grandpa. When we started out after lunch, the roads weren't bad at all. The snow in Bloomington had changed back to rain and we didn't encounter snow on the road until we were north of Martinsville. While the roads were snowy, they weren't in bad shape and we were only going about 5 mph under the posted speed limit most of the way. There was a stretch on I-74 where snow was blowing across the road from fields so we slowed to 55 (from a speed limit of 70), but over all, it was really reasonable.

Then the sun went down, the snow built up a little and I guess Indiana decided I-74 didn't require plowing. The 35 miles through Illinois weren't too bad, similar to on the way up. I could tell when I hit the border because the roads were snow covered other than where tires had made paths. It was still driveable, but slow. The trick was to get behind a semi because their 18 wheels carve a pretty nice path through the snow. Once again, 50-55 mph was still moving and not unreasonable. Most people seemed to be driving cautiously.

Then I got to Crawfordsville. Two or three cars got off on the exit. I was in the right lane a little ways back. A semi and an SUV were in the left lane ahead of me. Suddenly a car came from the exit perpendicular to the highway, across both lanes directly in front of the truck. I'm pretty sure the truck hit the car because the car went spinning back across both lanes. I was busy trying to avoid becoming part of the accident, so I and the few other cars that were there kept moving. The semi and another that was behind me pulled over. Driving conditions at that point were pretty bad. The only thing I can figure was that the car that got hit realized it was the wrong exit and tried to pull back onto the road, hit snow and spun into the path of the truck.

The speed of traffic for the next few miles was about 35-40 as I took deep breaths and shook off the image. Not long after I got my stomach and heart back down where they belonged (rather than in my throat) and when traffic in general had gained the confidence to speed up to about 45-50, there was a semi off in the ditch... with it's trailer blocking the right lane.

The drive on I-74 was hairy. I saw 2 or 3 plows in the other direction on those 35 miles in Illinois. I didn't see a single one in Indiana until I was on 465 around Indy. No wonder the road was a mess! It got better once I was on 465 where they seemed to actually be doing something about the snow. And once on SR 37 it got a little better. The real difference came just north of Martinsville where both lanes were suddenly pretty clear. Salt! Plows! What a difference! The last 25 miles or so were really not bad, about like the roads had been when we headed out.

All in all, I left with the boys at 1:15. We arrived in Urbana around 4:45, 3.5 hours later. We did make one rest stop, so an extra half hour considering the weather and the stop isn't bad. I left at 5:40 (it took time to move car seats, plus I had a quick sandwich before hitting the road again.) I got home at 9:35, almost 4 hours later. My back was sore from being tense that long. But we made it safely - the boys to Grandma and Grandpa's and me back home.

Chris and I had a great time yesterday. We spent the afternoon at The Irish Lion where Starrynight Productions had a reading and critique of 2 screenplays (Chris's and Cindy's). Then we spent an enjoyable evening with friends eating pizza and a giant birthday cookie and playing a great game of Battlestar Galactica: The Boardgame. It was exactly what we wanted to do for our birthdays. And the 4+ hours for the reading would not have been possible with the boys in tow.

Now it's time for us to go get dressed to drive to Urbana to pick up the boys.

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