Monday, March 9, 2009

And I thought I liked winter

I like winter. I really do. I like the crunchness of the snow, I like the white of the snow, I like that I am not flinging bugs away from my face. So winter is okay.

Yesterday, my daughter, Mary, and I drove my son, Ian, downstate to a town called Reading. We left a little bit before 10 am. Of course you already know that Reading is in Hillsdale County, very close to the state line. I thought we were going to be going about 1/2 hour away from Kalamazoo, which is where Ian is going to school and living for now. No, Ian's car was in Reading and that was where we had to go.

So, we drive to Reading, drop off my son, and start to head back to Leelanau County. Which is about 6 hours away. It is 4 pm and it starts to rain. Rain is okay. We are in a car and we are dry. Which is more than we can say for the Amish who are in buggies with one umbrella. No pictures of them. Just envision pouring rain, open buggy, and very huddled people under one umbrella.

We stop in Byron Center to see my mother, who has just flown back from Florida. Her plane is late and we don't see her until 7 pm and we leave her house at 7:30 pm.

South of Big Rapids, we are hit with sleet. Lots of sleet. Drive at 30 mph sleet. It starts to get dark and is very sleety. The roads are rutty and it is hard to see at times. The good thing is that there are not many cars on the road and we are on the expressway and some snowplows are out.

We drive on, slowly, and the sleet turns to snow. Can't remember where, but it is snowing. That is better than sleet, as we can see.

At some point we pass Cadillac. We drive and after what seems like an hour, we still have not seen the end of the expressway. I have decided that we have hit the Twilight Zone and we are stuck forever in driving in snow in the dark.

We do reach the end of the expressway, continue slowly on and finally we see the flashing light for M-113. We make our turn and start down an unplowed road. Well, I am sure it was plowed at some time, but at this point in time, it is very rutty and snowy. We have decided to take M-113 to M-37 and then up to M-22, M-204, again onto M-22 and home. We have been told that our road is plowed.

Clean off our wipers at the intersection of M-37, partially slide into the intersection at Chum's Corners where a police cruiser watches and very nicely ignores the fact that our light was red. We back up, wait for the green and continue on. Saw our first car off of the road. Pull off into McDonalds to clean our wipers, again.

Back on the road, on to Suttons Bay. Reach Suttons Bay and turn onto M-204. Come into Lake Leelanau and see two cars with flashers on, parked in the middle of the side streets. Make condesending remarks about vehicles stuck in snow and how well we have done for the past eight hours on our trip back home.

We approach M-22 and have already decided that we are not going to stop for the stop sign as we may not get any further if we lose momentum. We turn north and head towards Leland. Only 4 miles from home!

And hubris hits. M-22 has not been recently plowed. The snow is deep enough that as we hit it, it comes up and hits our windshield. The wipers can not clear off the snow fast enough and we have to stop and clean off our lights, windshield, grill and anything else that is covered with snow and ice. We start back down the road and see a county road plow approaching us from the rear. We are driving down the middle of the road, so we pull over to the side and let the snowplow go by. Yes!!!! We will follow the plow home.

Wrong. The van is stuck in the right side of the road.

A truck comes by. He tries to help us push the van out, but no shovels. No cat litter. Did I mention that my eldest daughter sold her house and used the van to move on Saturday? Which meant that all of my winter stuff had been removed to make room for her boxes. Also, I had no boots, no hat, no gloves or mittens, no coat. After all, when we left at 10 am that morning, it was fairly warm. It is now midnight and we are tired and want to get home.

We call home for help. We call Van's for towing and leave our information. We sit there. Another snow plow goes by. We see red lights, twice. We finally figure out that the power lines have touched each other and have given us a light show.

Rineharts from the Whaleback Inn drive by. They too are coming back from downstate, where it was nice and warm. They, too, know exactly what we have been driving through. They stop, try to push us out, and decide that they will go home and come back with shovels.

We wait. Our good samaritans come back and after shoveling and shoveling and shoveling, we start to push. The van comes free and we drive home.

Except, our road has not been plowed out. Not only has it not been plowed out, it has been plowed in. We stop in the middle of M-22 (which in only one lane) and look. We are one half mile from home and we can't get there. It is 1:30 am and we want to be home. Even if we tried to plow our van through the berm, we would be stopped by the 2 feet of snow on the road. We drive north on M-22 to see if we can park anywhere and walk in. We drive all the way up to North Lake Leelanau Rd. and that isn't plowed out either. Nothing is plowed out. There is only a one lane down M-22. No driveways, no side roads. Just lots and lots and lots of snow.

We carefully turn around and head back to our road, hoping to find somewhere to safely park the van. Nope. We call the sheriff's department for advice. We are told to park the car in a parking lot. Ummm, what parking lot? Well, then, how about the side of the road? Right. The side of the road that has over 2 feet of snow, the side of the road in which we will be stuck.

We drive back into Leland, looking for anywhere to park. We are now getting desperate. Maybe we could park in a parking lot in Leland and hitch a ride with someone else who is driving aimlessly around at 2 in the morning. Except, the parking lots in Leland have lots of snow. There is no way to drive into a parking lot.

We turn around, go back up to McLeod (our road) and look at the road. It has not been plowed since we left. There is still a berm, then lots of snow. We look at the side of the road. Still lots of snow there. It is against everything in me to deliberately drive my van into a snow bank. But I have no choice. I am so close to being home. After three false starts, my van is nicely parked in a snow bank.

We get out of the car, grab the two dogs, one Scottie and one Cocker, and head towards our road. The snow is up to my knees and past my daughter's knees. the Scottie is engulfed by the snow and we have to carry her.

Mary and I take turns breaking snow, stopping to catch our breath several times.

At 3 am, we walk into the house.

Pictures taken the next morning:

Snowplow plowing our road

Our tracks down the road

See how deep it was?