zaterdag 21 december 2013

6 dec # 1: ice roads and snowstorm in Kentucky

(first part = live blog, written on the road)
weather reports scare me a bit. We can do only one thing: be carefull and use our brains (= safety first) Got a message from Brian that they booked a room in Columbia, because of the extreme cold they dont wanna drive back to STL through (apperantly) the middle of nowhere (in case something happens) and that we should do the same so we did.

During breakfast we first heard "dont take the 24 and 64, my sister-in-law is there and its 30mph max because of snow and ice and sleet!. you should take this and that road!"
then the man at the other end of the table said "no, you're sending them straight into a snowstorm, its really bad out there"
 ok, so.... "we'll just follow the GPS and hope for the best" but thanks for caring!

Nashville in the rain....

we'll see what we can do. Right now we're on the road and driving. If its too dangerous to drive we'll stop. Like I wrote to Chuck the other day "I hope Saint Christopher is with us"

Temperature is heading for 32 and we dont like that as its raining :-( GPS only gives 7 mins delay on 6,5 hrs so still hope we will be ok.
OMG there it is, electrical warning signs "snow and ice on roadway be prepared for slow and stopped vehicles" crossing my fingers.

I think we're in Kentucky :-D
Yes we are! yoohoo! For fridge magnets take the first exit.

snowcleaning trucks ahead. One of them just made a uturn on the highway (to the other lane)
And we reached 32°F .

Ohdear. A car in the ditch. At least it was standing on its wheels and the passengers were standing next to it. Highway patrol was allready there.


...into ice!

OMG another one. The snow and ice are here. slowing down and crossing fingers.
3rd. 40mph. Ice. Feeling very uncomfortable. Giving Robert compliments so he'll stay relaxed.
Maybe this would be different at home. We have ice, snow, sleet and dangerous roads at home too. we had to make detours because we couldn get uphill etc, but I think it just makes it twice as bad because we're not at home or in our own car.
at least they put sand or salt or what is it on the road here.

I'm glad we were smart enough to bring a big bag of food and a tray of water with us.


ok on a lighter hand now. the landscape here and in Tennessee looks a bit like home. Some hills with trees and now fields. This could have been Belgium right here.
We see quite a few out of state cars: mostly Florida this time (in Cali it was Texas!) and some georgia. Oh wait there are the Texans :-D
Teehee a tourbus named Kincaid :-)
6th car in ditch + walking driver

Its snowing now and 25°
so far for the live blog, I had to put my laptop away and help Robert, as the windscreen was covered in ice, and the wipers were covered in ice too, so they didnt touch the window anymore, and we couldnt see ANYTHING.
there was a icecube sitting on the end of the right one, scratching a clear strip on the window at my side.
Half panicking we had searched for the windscreen heater, but couldnt find it, and it also looked as if there wasnt one. 
We had to stop the car and clean the window (at least we had a scraper) but the road was this bad, that we couldnt see where the road ended and the shoulder started, and we feared getting stuck, or worse, in the ditch, or even more worse: getting run over by a big truck who didnt seem to be bothered much by the weather as they kept on passing us.
Somewhere, we went from "dammit, we're never gonna make it to the show tonight!!" to "we have to reach that next motel exit so we wont strand here and have to spend the day and night in the car in the snow - or worse!"

I'm not lying when I say we saw OVER 50 cars and trucks in the ditch before we finally reached Saint Louis.
Lots of them were bigger cars and pick ups. Maybe some get a bit reckless in a big car? I was told that its difficult to drive an unloaded pick up truck on an iced road (because of empty back)
Some of them were upside down, none of them hurt bad, we only saw one ambulance. All cars had an fluo orange "flag" on the antenna, probably to find them in case they got snowed in, and also to tell that the vehicle was empty?

Somewhere on that ice road, Robert said "I think we have a fourwheel drive" and yes we did. This is where I started to believe in miracles: when we booked the car for this part of the trip, we booked a Ford Focus again... but as soon as it was booked, Robert received a mail from Dollar Rental that we could have a free upgrade to a "semi SUV" We checked out these cars and they looked ok, so we booked it. (esp for the space) One thing for sure: without that free upgrade, we would have NEVER ever made it.

We had the worse part of the road in Kentucky, and around a small town in Illinois called "Vienna"
In my memory we drove miles and miles through the middle of nowhere, but as we were only going 10mph, of course it took a long time.
We kept an eye on the GPS, and the arriving time kept getting later and later with big steps.
Our windscreen kept getting worse and worse and as we couldnt stop... we had to keep on moving. I was peaking through the opening on my side, and helped Robert, who had to stretch to see through a hole at his side. You dont wanna sit in a car on ice and hear the driver say "I cant see anything"

the snowplows had left a darker trail of the salt, and that was the trail we followed, because we couldnt see any sides of the road. That, and the pick up in front of us, who was also going slowly. That was one thing, apart from one "fool" in a SUV that passed us later, everyone was driving really carefull and slowly. Makes you wonder how come you end up in the ditch, but then again, that SUV that passed us... a few miles later we saw him again, starting to spin and slip, and for a second we thought he was heading for the ditch (see ya!  - thats a Bottle Rockets reference ;-) they barely made it.
By now the wipers made sounds like "KLOINK-KRRRR-CRACK. KLOINK-KRRRR-CRACK" instead of the gentle "swish, swoosh" they're supposed to make. So I was pretty sure they would break off, and then we would be doomed.

I thought i'd try to stick my head out of the window to give directions, (yes, we'd sunk that low) and because it was snowing like crazy, I carefully opened the window. A cloud of snow blasted in, and the window closed again. And we were only going like 10mph!!
When we saw an exit, we had no other chance then to take it to park the car.
Right now, we were both freaking out and in panic. I was screaming that i was scared and he said I made him even more nervous, what made ME even more scared.
Thinking back at it... what should we have done, once we were there, other than trying to keep on going?

As there was no traffic behind us, we stopped in the middle of the road (what we couldnt do on the highway) and Robert got out. I wanted to help but he insisted that I stayed in the car. Grmph!
He was foot deep in the snow, cleaned the window and wipers ("honey, take a picture, I want a souvenir!") and got back in the car.
scraping ice from wipers, after scraping the ice from the window.
Back to the highway. Or wait... where is the highway entrance? we looked around and only saw white. We looked around again, Robert got out again, walked a bit up and said "I see a tire trail between those poles"
At least our windscreen was clean now, for the time being.
Carefully (and totally scared) we reached the highway.

I got myself enough together to pretend as I wasnt scared anymore.
"honey, I'm ok, now you cleaned the window, I'm totally zen!"
I wasnt, but the last thing I wanted to do was freak him out. I deserve an Oscar :-D

better view. The dark spots arent asphalt, but ice.

Traffic on the highway was still moving. The window got a bit bad again, but we could still see enough, and we finally figured out how to heat it in the right way to get the best results. (I read the user manual when Robert was cleaning the window, but didnt was much of a help) One big thing was... they dont have build in windscreen heaters in the States! In our car, in such conditions, put the windscreen heater on and... no problem.
salvation is near!
And... we had to stop. Luckly only for a few moments and we saw why, several vehicles stuck in front of us. The driver in front of us got out to peel the ice of his wipers; we were not the only ones. We could move ahead, and had to drive zig-zag between the stuck cars and big trucks. Some of the big trucks were totally stuck and had the driver digging out the wheels with a shovel.


snow plow
Glad that we were moving again, that our window was clean, that we had a fourwheel drive, that everyone was driving carefully, we were passed by a big truck going FAST....
"carefull" we said while he passed us and a few cars in front of us, the huge thing all of a sudden started "fishtailing" like crazy. (slipping rear end)
"Dont fall down!!!" we screamed. This was not the way it was going to end, if a big 18-wheel truck ends on his side across the highway, nothing else matters. (it didnt even occur to me that he could have hit other cars too)


We saw signs of the other highway getting closer, and it looked like the snowfall got less... and yes, by the time we finally reached the motel exit, the road was a whole lot better!
A bit further, in the town of Marion, we could exit for gas. The roads were ok, but we had to wade through big heaps of snow to get in the gasstation by foot.
We got back on the highway ok.... what not everyone could say, as we found out later.....

The road got better and better, but not very *good* untill we finally reached Saint Louis, with 3 hrs delay (on a 4,5 hr ride!)
getting closer! over asphalt, instead of ice!

WE MADE IT <3 we're (back) in SAINT LOUIS !!!!

We still had 2 hrs to drive to Columbia, but we made it out of that ice mayhem!

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