Saturday, December 27, 2008

14 Hours on Ice and not Dead

My pre-op meeting was rushed as they tried to cram in the info as fast as they could before the weather hit. I was out on the icy sidewalk and parking lot, gently trying to get to my car without landing on my head again.By 2p.m. I was scraped clean and on the road. It was obvious for several blocks that I-465 was already at a standstill, so I made a decision to try to wend my way through the west side of Indy to get to SR40. I took a left on High School Road, a road I am familiar with that crosses 40 at some point, but I came to a fork in the road and forked right, which was wrong. Without intending to, I found myself on an interstate headed northwest and no way to get off. Unmarked, icy, cars already in the ditch, semi's sliding this way and that. I crept/crawled for quite some time until I saw another familiar road name, Unknown to me, this road was not complete. I eased my way up the ramp keeping two wheels on the gravel. When I got close enough to the sideways semi, I crossed behind him and once again crept along with 2 wheels in gravel. The top of the ramp appeared to be sending cars sideways and backwards so I turned right and went down a hill until it looked clean enough to do a u-turn to go the direction I needed to go. Traffic began to build up in front of me, I saw an unknown road bumper to bumper t-ing into another road, bumper to bumper. I slowly and tenderly kept far enough to the right to keep two wheels on gravel and grass for traction, this eventually put me on the inside of another traveller who thought I was being a smart ass, really I wasn't, we were all going 3 MPH or less, I was just a bit more stable. at some point I merged onto the solid ice with everyone else. I was able to get on the next road which was 136, once again I am headed for champaign instead of Terre Haute. I see a 4 way stop up ahead, bumper to bumper and at this crossroad was a gas station with the area of the pumps under cover, a blessing. I stopped, filled up the tank and got some directions from the cashier whose goal was to keep me out of the mess on 136 and on to 40, she sent me through a subdivision and as I turned onto the road she sent me to I saw another wreck ahead. I tried to find another way, I tried to come back and got lost in a subdivision of culdesacs deadends, I was trying to get back to the station to just sit and rest. It is still daylight. I have been on the road for hours. I have made it to Brownsburg, a place I have heard of but never been. Eventually, slowly and carefully staying at about 2mph I came to a road the cashier had indicated, I had somehow, with my horrible sense of directions, gotten around the wreck that had been blocking my way and I headed east. I wish I had thought to count cars and trucks in ditches along my way, but I had to concentrate on my own wheels, the times I slid, no one else was near, whew. I try to time stop signs to not come to a complete stop and rarely ever hit the accelerator. All the while, it is 32* and freezing rain. I slowly arrive at a brightly lit town, I think it is Plainfield and join the traffic on the highway, I quickly realize this is not plainfield and I am headed in the wrong direction. I scout the sidelines and make my way into a nearly empty parking lot with at least one traffic light exit, no cars on the lot, one restaurant open, but too icy to try to go in, it is nearing dark, I called home to tell Larry where I was so he could tell me where I was! and how to get out of there. I turned right on the highway then left into another mall lot and to another light and back in the direction from which I had come. I got to good old Dan Jones Road! Hooray. it was a lot farther to Plainfield than I thought at 2, 3 or 4 MPH but at last I am at highway 40, familiar ground and I know where I am. I head west, after very few mile and two more hours, a police car came down the eastbound lane yelling at us in the westbound to go back and take shelter. OK, I did, It was a lot easier going back than it was heading west, the roads were definitely clearing as the temp had risen to 41*. I went to a Denny's near I-70 ordered a breakfast, rested, then went to find a room, wrong strategy. no rooms, all those other people heading back with me got there first.
Nothing else left to do but head on home. I made god time for at least 15 miles until I hit the stopped traffic and from then on it was stop for an hour move 20 feet. After about 3 hours I began to wonder how an overweight 61 year old woman with very bad knees was going to go to the bathroom.....shouldn't have had that refill at Denny's. Possibly 12 hours into this stupid trip, I made it to the Greencastle intersection, bathroom, bad coffee, 2a.m. From then on the road was clear enough to do 2o and sometimes even 30mph, but that felt very frightening. I rolled in and flopped on the couch at 4:07a.m. after leaving on a normally 2 hour drive 14 hours earlier. I slept and the next day I was on the ragged edge of tears most of the day. We had a two hour 15 minute drive ahead of us to join our daughters for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. DH drove, bless him. There were possibly more than a hundred cars and trucks in various ditches on my way home and I am grateful to have not ended up one of those people. I wrote this detailed and certainly boring rendition of this trip before the details faded from my exhausted memory, and I am sitting in front of an open door letting the warm breezes of December 27 blow through my living room.

1 comment:

Mattpenning said...

Not boring at all. Frightening, but not boring. Glad you made it home.