Thursday, February 06, 2014

C'mon Man, Can't We Get A Break?

Two weeks ago we invited my side of the family over to meet the new baby. We felt it important to meet her in person so they all could experience her as an infant. She is the only child in my entire family at this time and my parent's only great-grand-baby. We planned a Thanksgiving style turkey dinner party. Our concern was the weather.
My son and his wife were traveling home from north of Indianapolis and the notion of having them travel with blowing snow and zero temperatures were a big concern especially with an infant on board. Mostly due to his older Pontiac being able to make the round trip in the frigid weather. We solved that problem by renting for him an SUV for the effort. While we were considering postponing the get together would we see a decent weekend in the next month or so? Doubted it. We were correct.

While their trip went well it took longer than normal for them to travel. The direct route through the center of the state is quite flat, sparsely populated and dangerous this time of year due to blowing snow. After a home cooked turkey dinner they left the next morning. Looking back it felt good to do this for my family but it made us both very uneasy thinking about the potential of being stranded on either leg of the journey.

As it turns out there has not been nor does it appear that there will be normal weather for the next ten days. During our gathering I asked my dad if he could recall a winter worse than we have experienced so far. He agreed, neither of us recalls a winter that began so early, maintained such brutally cold temperatures for so long without any breaks. Past winter seasons have seen their share of cold and snow but I do recall that every week or two the temps manage to crawl above 32 degrees and provide some relief, allow the snow to melt off and tease us with what we could look forward to when the sun climbed higher in the sky in a month or so. Not this year.
One after another of these frigid arctic weather systems have made life in the dark months much less desirable than in the past.Yeah, we live in the midwest. Yeah, it gets cold and snows in the winter. I don't blame my sudden distaste for winter on my age but this winter has been by far the worst since 1979 that I can recall.

This winter is far from over and could be the worst I have lived through. But not enough to make me make delirious statements such as "the does it, we're moving to Florida!". Or Arizona. Or any southern location where dangerous lizards sneak about, insects the size of Harley Road King gas tanks often fly, hurricanes can suck the roof off the house and floods could wash away any good reason for me to live there. I can deal with a bad midwest winter but this one is trying my patience.

Nothing has gone as planned because the weather simply will not break. Cabin fever is beginning to give me the creeps.
There were plans on attending a reloading class in the first week of January. Two nights in a row and I was looking forward to it. That was when the first of a series of polar vortex Zamboni's ran right over us. I cancelled my trip to South Bend. Reloading interested me for a number of reasons one of which gives me something to do on boring winter days when stuck in the house. Didn't happen. I scheduled another for early this week since they hold these sessions during the first week of every month. Monday night again another respectable snow storm came through so I cancelled again. Happy thoughts of me cobbling together various calibers of affordable and readily available lead projectile fun on a cold, dark winter day in my garage will have to wait. Looks like taking the classes the first week in March will have to do. The leftover brass isn't going anywhere and neither am I. And this won't stop me from collecting more powders and primers.

Driving has been a bigger chore than most winters. There are two different routes to get myself to the store. One is on a state road that connects with another state road in Westville that takes me north to the south side of Michigan City. The 18 mile trip takes 20 minutes or so if I am in a hurry to get there on a dry road on a good day. The other is a series of two lane county roads. That 21 mile trip can take about five minutes longer on clear roads but is much more scenic. Lately it's been rare to leave in the morning and encounter dry pavements on either.

The county road route is usually unsalted and has either lose or packed snow. Me in the Jeep with 4WD engaged just eats up any drift that we come across. Traffic is very sparse and there are few intersections that require a stop. The state road route gets heavily salted. On it I can plan on encountering a motorist scared as hell and going about 35mph when it's snowing. Then there will be the occasional bus or semi that emits a trail of salty mist that can drain a window washing reservoir after a few trips and make the Jeep look like a frozen blue margarita. Lately my trips are via the county road route and it sure beats traveling 35 miles each way on truck infested I-84 to the World's Foremost Outfitter and the old job. Then there are the potholes.
I drove my daughter to the train station last week via IN 49. This divided two-lane state highway is well-maintained and was totally rebuilt about five years ago. It felt as if we were driving on the Ho-Chi-Minh trail between Laos and Kham Duc. I mean there were a series of potholes that were unavoidable in traffic that each stretched hundreds of yards. I took an alternative route home.

Yesterday another 6" of hell from the sky fell yet again. I took the country road route to work through drifts that were up to 3' high and the Jeep took it like a champ. But it did take me 55 minutes to arrive safely at my destination. Add that 6" to the previous 6", 3", 12", 4" and on and on and we're talking a lot of accumulation due to the lack of days above 32 degrees. It keeps piling up and up.

It's getting to the point where even a patch of brown grass would look like a tropical paradise to me. And when all this white stuff melts better get the sandbags ready, you lowlanders.


Carl from Chicago said...

It has been completely brutal here, too. I am glad that you rented your son an SUV for the drive that was good thinking.

I often am wearing snow pants to work and relying on the CTA to get me around. A face mask is now normal, too. I haven't worn a face mask since I was a little kid in those 1970's winters you are talking about.

Dan from Madison said...

We aren't getting the snow that we did last year in the snowpocalypse, but I can't ever remember it being this cold for this long since I have been around. After the last two winters the wife and I think we can handle just about anything on the farm, after we get our generators installed this Spring.