This has been a fairly mild and dare I say warm winter, with not much, if anything, in the way of snow and ice... that is, of course, until a few days ago when we had rain during freezing conditions. Not quite what I could call freezing rain, because it was definitely water coming down, but the air was cold and the ground was frozen, resulting in what is commonly referred to as black ice. Basically the water on the ground freezes but is hard to identify because it's a thin and clear sheet of ice. It is very dangerous and conditions on the roads were horrible. I even had my own horror story, but more on that later.
First off, I went to pick up A at school and it was cold and rainy. When we got on the highway, we both noticed that the car was acting strangely, and it didn't take long to deduce that the front tires were spinning out as I gave it gas. Right away I got that sick feeling in my stomach that things were a little sketchy, and all around us the cars on the highway slowed down and put on their hazard lights. My first thought was to get off and drive on the side roads because I hate going fast during these times. Sure enough, within a mile of the off ramp a big truck had lost control and was overturned in the median, dumping its load of Christmas trees onto the ground. It looked like a collision because another truck had its front end smashed in. I got off ASAP and took the side roads, but it was sketchy all the way home. It didn't help that I had not put the snow tires on yet.
I had to take A to her hockey practice that afternoon and the plan was to drop her off, get N and then meet up at the arena. I avoided the dirt road short cut and took the long way, but then on the way back to meet up with N I, like a complete fool (I don't know what I thinking) took the dirt road short cut home, and that's where my horror story begins. The first section is asphalt so it wasn't so bad, but by the time I hit dirt I couldn't help but notice that the road seemed awfully shiny. I figured the dirt road would be rough and gravelly, but not so. Even with the shiny road, I was driving fine and could only hope for the best because at that point there was no turning back, even though I desperately wanted to turn back.
At some point the road becomes a massive downhill, and that's when I completely lost control. I started sliding down and must had slid for about 200 feet. Let me tell you, when you lose control of your car like that, it's #&$%# scary. I wasn't even going that fast. I managed to steer the car into a small embankment that was all dirt and the tires grabbed, thus stopping me. I sure was relieved, but I still had to get out of there. I drove about 5 mph with on tire always on the dirt and made it up the final hill before the long downhill home. It isn't that steep, but when it's icy, even the slightest downhill will get you.
As I went around the bend, however, there was an SUV that was parked sideways on the road. The driver was probably going too fast, lost control and wound up in the middle of the road. I stopped the car to see if they were okay and the minute I stepped out of the car my feet slid out from under me and I was on the ground. The conditions were that bad. I spoke with the driver who said she was waiting for her husband and she seemed a little frazzled. She said she had to walk down the road to get cell phone reception and slipped and fell in the process, so she wasn't going anywhere until help arrived. I felt for her, though I did notice that not only was she driving an SUV (i.e., all wheel drive), but she had snow tires, as well. She must have been going way too fast to have lost control, and it didn't help having that small baring dog in her lap. Plus, walking on ice in high heels is not recommended.
Either way, I had to get home and didn't want to wait. After looking over the situation, I thought if I could get one wheel up on the embankment, that would not only give me grip, but I could get around her car, which was taking up 75% of the road. I told her my plan and she said she was going to get out and wait on the hill because she didn't want to be in the car if I lost control on the ice and slammed into her. I can't say I blame her. She definitely struggled getting out of that car and walking on that ice but she manage just fine and I made it past her.
The hard part of still ahead because I had to make it down this hill of ice, and the steep part of not only near the end, but it was a bend, as well. I literally drove 2-3 mph but managed to get to the flat part and then to the main road. I heaved a huge sigh of relief and kicked myself for such a stupid move.
It took an extra hour to get home, but I'm thankful I made it. I met up with N, got his gear in the car, and headed back to meet A and told them my tale of woe. The next day I put my snow tires on and I'll tell you one thing, I'm not taking that shortcut for awhile.
Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Nick S for the pic.