Spokane Snow Driving [11-24-10]

2 Jan

I would not say I especially cowardly about driving in the snow–though I don’t love it.  I don’t go wandering around in bad weather when I don’t have to–I just want to get to work.  Being from the Seattle-area, where it doesn’t snow often, Kidron is pretty timid about driving in snow or ice.  Anyone would be pusillanimous {pew-sul-an-i-mous} about driving the slippery HHR that doesn’t handle well at all in any winter conditions.  Getting to work becomes a byzantine task when the front wheel drive vehicle is not working well at all.  The HHR has the heavy body of an SUV, but only the power of a car so it sucks more than my Jetta in snow–this makes for a tangled driving process in any inclement weather at all, ie:  Don’t brake–ever, simply take the foot off the accelerator and come to a natural stop, steer toward the curb for times when the car absolutely refuses to slow, take corners wide and at a maximum of 2 MPH, and never, never attempt to take an incline, but if you must gain speed for momentum, shift into I, and hope the driver behind you is a good samaritan willing to patiently wait–then give you a push. . .

I have to take a convoluted route to work in the snow.  In snow, we have to take itinerant paths just to get 3 miles away.  If there is even a slight incline the HHR can’t get up in the ice and snow, which means an intricate snow route is necessary.  I found this out the hard way when I took a complicated route to work, then still had to stop at a stoplight. . .  On a hill.  It took a police officer and another passenger to push me into the Office Depot parking lot.  I felt like such a pathetic vagrant when it happened!  With Spokane’s numerous maze of one-way streets, the river, freeway, and train tracks–it is a very elaborate endeavor to plan an alternate route.

Finding snow-chains anywhere in the vicinity was even more perplexing of a task–everyone is out now that it has snowed.  We would have to be so nomadic to get some that it would take us out of the inland pacific northwest entirely.  I hope the chains that were ordered from Amazon.com get here really fast and are not too complex for us to figure out in a hurry.  I will be unsettled until we have reliable snow-transportation to work.  Kidron had to skip work altogether because an alternate plan was so labyrinthine and archaic:  The bus would take three hours there and three back, taxi services were either completely unavailable or required 2 hour notice and $30 each way, the one person she knows at work comes in from ID and wasn’t answering her phone or Facebook, frustration!  How old-fashioned could public transportation be around here?!

I hate the snow because it makes driving a knotty experience if you don’t have 4-wheel drive.  As a person who hasn’t driven in a front wheel drive vehicle not equipt with snow or all-weather tires, speaking easily about how mild the roads seem is natural.  Until you drive the HHR in snow yourself, I don’t care how talkative you are about its supposed ability to handle the winter–you don’t know (I didn’t).  It’s ironic, because I was voluble about not wasting our few funds on new tires when the HHR had siped tires less than two years old–hardly ancient.  Now I’m verbose about how much worse it drives than my antediluvian Jetta which was not meant for snow in the least bit, and didn’t do great.  After a few precarious snow-drives in the thing, I became loquacious about fixing the problem so we could each get to work safely–poor Kidron!  I guess I was tooglib about the status of the tires before it snowed here–had I forgotten what a real winter was like in just one year of living in a mild climate?!

The only way to have levity in a snow storm is to have no reason to leave the house–anyone having to drive to work loses any enthusiasm in a hurry.  My boss said she is a terrible driver, especially in winter, because she has an inappropriate lack of seriousness and gets distracted easily.  I suppose I would be a lot less stressed about winter if I used more humor–who cares if I get stuck in the middle of the antique road blocking traffic?  It’s winter and it happens to everyone.  That said, I don’t want to be overly casual and wreck the car or kill myself driving around in the snow and ice.  Little kids are the only ones that can really have amusement in winter–if they have a snow day, because they don’t have to drive.

Spokane declared a severe blizzard warning for the first time since the mid-1990s.  The hard winds are what characterize a blizzard–viability has to be really low to call it that.   The temperatures were a grim 16 degrees to as low as 1 degree this morning at 9 AM.  When the old-fashioned city is undecorated (before Christmas) the snow looks especially dour.  After awhile snow starts to look austere, and I long for the more beautiful signs of life in the spring.  Gray skies coupled with white roads and bygone dead trees seem so bleak–especially in late winter.  The poor birds didn’t fly south and were out in the water in this harsh weather.

I don’t remember if Missouri weather was this severe, but I do remember a stern determination was necessary to get to work on time.  People are quick to promote rebellion when it comes to snow plowing.  It’s a thankless job that can never be done fast enough or well enough and people blame some sort of conspiracy instead of realizing this.  I don’t think Spokane deserves the insurrection the online bulletins are promoting–they’ve done a decent job despite treacherous weather conditions and a dated problem of lack of funds.  On the other hand, the sedition against Seattle’s mayor may have been justified–the dowdy dude didn’t have the city plow at all and wouldn’t use ice for environmental reasons–stupid.

Drivers do not show any propriety especially in rain or snow.  It would be decent of everyone to slow down and drive safely when ice and snow or rain are present–but most people belligerently speed by and weave in and out of slower traffic.  The trucks that show the least decorum in bad weather?  Effing 4x4s!  Then there’s the people going 5 MPH who aren’t driving with appropriateness either.  It would be a lot less hazardous in inclement weather if everyone drove with modesty.  Plus, it’s always good when drivers obey the rules and customs of the road–bad weather or not.

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