Back in the day when we ate our boogers and wore Toughskin jeans, severe blizzard storms in Michigan were as common as a pothole full of slush. Then, for reasons under current scientific debate, the frequency and intensity of these bitch storms began to wane. Looking back to the 1970's and '80's, winter has turned from wild to mild, from insane to tame. Hell, this January, we were running the trails at Peach Mountain in shorts and a sweatshirt... something never seen during those winters. Yeah, yeah, it's another sign of global warming caused by fossil fuel emisions. We'd believe that, but forever burned in our memory bank is 3rd grade science class at Hedke Elementary School, circa 1977, when we were taught how pollution is preventing sunlight from reaching earth, and someday the world would freeze into a giant dirty slushball. So who really knows?
Just as we were getting comfortable with a climate more typical of, say, northern Alabama, Old Man Winter came home, whiskey drunk and pissed. If you were anywhere north of Saginaw today, you witnessed an old school snowstorm the likes of which we haven't seen in years. It was classic artic blast: predicted snowfall was in feet, not inches. The travel advisory warning ends at 6 pm, three days from now. On the road, visibility was next to zero. The windshield wiper fluid froze and rendered the wipers clumpy and useless. The average speed on I-75 near Grayling (above photo) was 25 mph, at best. One highlight of the slow ride were the lightning flashes- the gray sky would burst brilliant white and illuminate zillions of snowflakes. It was surreal and awesome and not something we recall ever seeing before.
The slow drive wasn't lacking in human entertainment either, provided by fellow motorists. Witness this thrilling scene: the snowplow is clearing a lane and throwing sparks everywhere. On the right, a tanker carrying gasoline or propane or liquid hydrogen loses patience and decides to pass. He arcs wide to avoid the plow blade, and for a pulse-jumping moment, veered right, then left, then right. He regained control and completed the pass, leaving the size and color of the fireball to our imagination, had the maneuver not worked out so well.
Other drivers weren't so lucky. Some of them, no doubt, were unlucky schlubs who hit a patch of ice or deep snow and biffed it. We hope they're home now, safe and warm. But we have no sympathy, none, for the idiots who lost control after driving like it was another day of owning the highway. A Hummer H2 tailgated us for a mile before zipping way at an unsafe speed. We predicted we would be seeing him again, and sure enough, ten miles later, he was stuck in the snowbank calling for a tow. Lesson learned, we hope.
Posted by River Rant at 2/16/2006 09:25:00 PM