Monday, December 18, 2006

Snow, Ice, and the Days Inn Lehi

We spent Saturday evening at the Christmas concert at the Conference Center, and it was lovely. Sissel performed, and though her stage presence threw me off a bit, she had a beautiful voice. Haunting and beautiful. After the concert, we went up to Syracuse to have birthday dessert for Nathan's birthday. There was snow forcasted, and the clouds were hanging low and looked like it might start snowing any second. But we decided it would be better to beat the storm home (even though we left at midnight) than to drive through the 4-10 inches that were supposed to fall overnight.

It seemed logical at the time.

All was well up until about 45th south in Salt Lake. Up to that point there had been a few flurries, and a bit of wind through Farmington. Nothing particularly dangerous. But when we were half way through the city, the snow started falling. & it was cold, which meant the roads were icy. REALLY icy. We started seeing cars sliding off the road, one almost hit a police car that was attending to someone that had already slid off the road in that spot. Ben slowed down to between 30 and 40 MPH, and we continued on, being as careful as we could. It was so slippery that even the idea of changing lanes to try to get off the freeway was way too scary.

Unfortunately, not everyone on the road was as diligent about their speed as Ben was. And there was far too much traffic for 12:30 am. People in crappy little Dodge Neons were zooming past us, having no fear for the conditions. There was a minivan ahead of us, and a pickup behind us, driving a little to closely to us for Ben's comfort. The van decided it was going to move to the right, into the next lane, just as a car came up behind to pass him on the right. He hit his brakes.

At this point everything went in slow motion. The van started spinning. It probably spun 3 or 4 times as we approached it. I was sure we were going to hit it. Absolutely sure. Ben took his foot off the gas, but we were still headed in his direction. He was spinning toward the HOV lane, but not quickly enough to be over before we got to him.

It was at this point that Ben did something I would NEVER have done. It's a good thing he was driving instead of me. He jerked his wheel to the left, toward the HOV lane. I'm not sure if the van stopped in the other lane, or if we just squeaked by. Either way, the next thing we knew, we were past the van. We didn't hit it. We didn't slide ourselves when we changed lanes. We were going straight down the road as if it had never happened.

Except that I was hyperventilating a little and Ben was saying "It's OK. We're OK" a lot.

A mile or so down the road, the pick up truck that had been behind us pulled up on our right side, rolled down his window, leaned out and gave Ben a thumbs up while mouthing "good driving!" It was just the comic relief we needed.

Point of the mountain was awful. I was sure we were going to leave the road and roll down the side of the mountain. There was no sense of lanes, just the attempt to follow in others' tire tracks. Which only helped a little. By the time we got past Thanksgiving Point, I was done. The snow was only getting worse on the other side of the point (we were sort of hoping it would be better) and I had the overwhelming feeling that something awful was going to happen if we kept going.

We got off the freeway, very carefully, and made our way to the Days Inn in Lehi. The $50 we paid for a room was nothing compared to the repair bill on a Saab if something had happened. . . even if we had just slid off the road and had to be towed out. . . so we felt OK about it.

The next morning we waited as long as we could for the snow to slow down (it had snowed all night long) before we left. When we finally did, we followed a zig zag path between side streets and freeway to get home. The first time we hit plowed road was the old state street/highway in South Provo/Springville. NONE of the other roads had been cleared. Not even a little bit. It took us an hour to get to Springville from Lehi.

We didn't leave the house for the rest of the day, and we are still counting our blessings that we weren't part of one of the 200+ accidents on the roads on Saturday night and Sunday.

And I agree with the trooper in that story. It's the "result of stupidity".

SLOW DOWN PEOPLE! Your Dodge Neon is not equipped for that kind of driving!


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