Winter Driving In Iowa: I Need A Drink And A Clean Pair of Underwear

Is this the guy forecasting our weather?  SERIOUSLY!!!!!!

Is this the guy forecasting our weather? SERIOUSLY!!!!!!

Last year’s winter spoiled us.  I think it snowed twice, and one of the times it snowed it technically wasn’t winter yet.  Oh how I had forgotten how awful winter can be, especially when you have to drive in it.

The bad weather that they forecast last week?  We got some snow, but nowhere near the Snowmageddon that they were anticipating.  The other day we started out with a 30% chance of pm light snow and we got a major snowstorm.  I came to work expecting a little bit of snow by nightfall.  It started snowing a little a few minutes after I got there.  It didn’t stop.  It got heavier.  I shrugged it off.  Not gonna panic.  Nope.  I figured it would let up soon.

Then they let the schools out early.  My son was able to go to the sitter’s house, which was good because there was no way I was going to be able to get there on time to get him!  Even though this important detail was taken care of, I was starting to get somewhat nervous.  Somehow I manage to convince myself that just like last week it’s just a state of panic.  Yet I’m spending a good amount of time fixated on the white stuff that is getting heavier and heavier outside our classroom window.  Finally at 2:30 the out of town people, me being one of them, were dismissed and we headed out.  I figured it wasn’t too bad yet-I was wrong.

The following is the tale of my harrowing ride home:

Did I mention that I live close to a half hour away?  Part of this drive is highway, part of it is interstate, and a small portion of it is county road. The interstates are usually cleared and the best form of travel in this kind of weather.  However getting there is half the battle.  I have to drive on the world’s worst highway to get there.

I go 30 miles an hour down the highway that I usually drive at 65 miles per hour.  It’s very slippery and scary and I am very scared as I see cars in the ditches everywhere.  This is a sample of what I was saying as I was going driving and sliding around:

Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod!
Shitshitshitshitshit!
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

I finally give up and turn off the highway to cut through town.  I don’t think they own a snowplow.  Or salt.  Or sand.  They just let you slide around and fear for your life.  Intersections are anxiety provoking, especially when you have to drive into traffic that may or may not be able to stop for you.

Princess Defiant does not like this, “Where are we going?  Why did you get off the highway?”
Me:  “Because I don’t want to keep driving on this road.  I want to go through town to get on the safer exit.”  (Translation-I don’t want to die trying to get on the interstate.)

There could have been definite spewing on my little journey.  Less singing and more screaming too.

There could have been definite spewing on my little journey. Less singing and more screaming too.

I knew once I got on the interstate it would be better, but it didn’t make it any less scary getting there.

Once I was on the interstate, travel was definitely an improvement, but there were a few moments when I really thought I was going to die.

Nonononononononononononononononono.  This is what I uttered every time a semi drove past me doing 90, splattering my windshield with slushy stuff and almost forcing me off the road.

At one point we passed ambulances and state patrol cars on the opposite side of the road.  There was a car half in the ditch with nothing left of the front end.  If it wasn’t a compact before, it definitely was now.  I was really getting nervous.

That’s when I hear Princess Defiant sigh and then ask in a very loud annoyed voice:  “WHEN WILL BE HOME????”
Me:  “This is scary driving.  We need to take our time.  I don’t want to have an accident.”
Silence from the backseat for a moment, then she asks, “What do you mean have an accident ANYWAY????”
Oh.  She thinks accidents are when you pee or poop your pants, which I actually came pretty close to doing, so she really wasn’t far off in that thinking.
Time to be blunt.  “It means crash the car.”
“Oh” she says quietly, then I hear her whisper very loudly “I don’t think I want you to crash the car.”  That’s nice that you’re on the fence about that, dear.

Eventually the longest drive of my recent life ended.  It took us almost an hour to make a 23 minute drive.  We picked up my son and were able to drive the few blocks home from there with minimal sliding around.

I texted my husband when I got home to let him know that I got there safely and gave him an idea of how the roads were.  Apparently he thought I was mocking him.  He texted me back that he was planning on driving it after a few drinks.  Brat.

So I didn’t die.  I drove in Iowa winter weather and once again lived to tell the tale.  At least until next time.  We’re expecting snow next week…

Thankfully my drive didn't end in disaster like this one did...

Thankfully my drive didn’t end in disaster like this one did…

The Snowmaggedon That Wasn’t, and Other Unfortunate Events

They told us to expect feet of snow...

They told us to expect feet of snow…

They called it “Snowmaggedon”.  They told us to batten down the hatches.  We were going to get feet of snow.  Travel would be impossible.  We were all going to die.  For someone like me who only appreciates the first snow of the year and the potential to reenact Calvin and Hobbes “Snowman House of Horrors” when we have large amount of snow, I wasn’t looking forward to it.  Not only was I not gleefully anticipating the snow, I was fretting about the fact that this was the first year that I’ve had to drive to make it to work in snow AND figure out childcare arrangements for a kid in a long time.

But let’s back up a minute to what happened BEFORE the storm.  A storm of a different kind.  We had a series of unfortunate events that made me look like a total blithering idiot.

We had a snafu with my phone the day before the alleged storm.  Two days in a row, the sitter had tried to contact me and strange things had happened.  The first day I had not plugged the charger into the portal on my phone in all the way, so it shut off.  I discovered this that morning as I was getting ready to leave.  I grabbed it and plugged it into my car and let it charge, figuring I’d turn it on after it had a little juice, because it was deader than a doornail.  When we arrived, she asked me if we had got her message.  I felt so bad.  It was nothing at the time-her son had been sick and she was on alert just in case she had to cancel (like if he spiked a fever or got worse).  I went to work, and turned on the phone with a partial charge to see her message-she had texted me.  I meant to text her back and tell her that it had been an isolated weird thing, that I almost always get texts and that was the best way to reach me.  I must have started the message three times when I was on my break, but kept getting interrupted by phone calls.

The next morning, the day of the supposed superstorm, we arrived at her house and there was no one there.

(To clarify things, this time my phone was on…)

So here we were, 40 minutes before I had to be at work a half hour away, with two confused kids.  The Professor was freaking out-no so much because his routine had changed, but because he didn’t get to eat a second breakfast at the sitter’s house.  Princess Difficult was mad because we were in the car and not going anywhere.  After all, it was her fourth day of being the Shining Star at school and she was missing out on important time where everyone is focused on her!  There was whining and complaining and crying.  I pulled back into my driveway, turned around and told them sternly:  “No one is getting out of the car.  Everyone is going to be quiet while I try to FIGURE THIS OUT!!!!!”

And then there was silence.  Thank you.

I began the work as only an expert in miscommunication can do effectively:  1)  I texted my husband and asked him if she said anything the night before.  No.  2) I scrolled through my missed calls and found out that I was never informed by my phone of this missed call or message.  Stupid phone.  I am still not 100% sure of what happened, but obviously her son was pretty sick.  3)  I called work, explained what happened, and told them I would be in as soon as possible.  4) I emailed the school, and let them know that my son would be coming to and fro on a different bus.  5)  I texted the sitter, telling her I hoped everything was ok with her poor kid, and that texting really is the best way to get a hold of me.  FINALLY, I went in, got both of the kids a waffle, and we got to the school, parked,  and waited until The Professor could be dropped off.

Meanwhile, while I was panicking over this, everyone else was panicking over the giant storm coming to kill us all.

Ohhhhh nooooo... they're coming for us...

Ohhhhh nooooo… they’re coming for us…

The Professor went to the middle school to wait for his bus at 8 am sharp, the earliest time he could be dropped off.  The Princess and I went to preschool.  We were there a whole 3 and a half hours.  This was because the monster storm scared every school into closing early.  Our school, one that rarely closes early, rarely delays,  and rarely cancels decided to let the kids out at 1:15.  Since I have to take a break anyway and have to be home not long after that, I left at noon.  Besides, I’m scared of driving in snow.  When you drive a car into a ravine when you are young and total it in snowy weather, you tend to be a BIT leery of such weather.  But that’s another future post…

So we rushed home.  Princess Difficult was OBVIOUSLY in need of a nap-she was pretty impossible to deal with. I made her lay down on the couch and she slept for a very long time.  The Professor came home and is even quiet for a change (whispering is not one of his strong suits.)

Meanwhile, I kept looking outside the living room window, waiting for this massive snowfall to start.  It was supposed to come so fast and so suddenly that people would be stranded and not able to go anywhere.  I worried about Evil Genius getting home.  I worried about losing power.  I worried about having enough caffeine to get me through the next few days that we would be stranded.

There was not a flake.  I was getting mad at the weather.

Or something like that...

Or something like that…

Evil Genius came home around 4 pm.  Still no snow.  I kept checking.  Finally at almost 6 pm a gentle little snow shower started.  Not too terrible, just some snow.  Really?  You got us all worked up for this?  Surely some schools around the area are feeling REALLY stupid.

I should have listened to the meteorologist.  One of the children in the preschool has a father that works for the National Weather Service.  He had told me earlier in the week that he thought it wasn’t the big deal they were making out of it…  That night on the news, the weather guy seemed almost disappointed.  Crestfallen, he says “We have some light snow falling around the metro area.”

Yet the schools continued to be fooled.  They all delayed the next morning, compounding things for everyone.  Maybe it was a little tricky, but it really wasn’t what the soothsayers had foretold.

I’m not a big fan of winter, but COME ON!  Don’t tease us with tales of killer snow.

Another kind of killer...

Another kind of killer…