Thursday, February 13, 2014

A View From The Bridge (My Balcony)

Oh, it's so BEAUTIFUL!

Barf.  Gimme a break.  It's COLD, and yesterday I had to drive in it, and I probably have to drive in it again today, unless I catch my mailman here in the complex, because I sold another doll - this one's going to NEW ZEALAND, but I'm using ebay's Global Shipping Program, so I only have to get it to Kentucky.  Whew!

Back to the weather.  I was asked if I was ready for cabin fever.  Um, do you remember that I'm not currently employed, and I live in Podunk, USA, on the wrong coast from HOME?  Why should snow give me more cabin fever than I'm likely to already be experiencing?  I know, I know, you're a native, and you realize that I'm not HOME, so you figure I'm not planning to get out in this any more than I had to yesterday, so I do appreciate your POV.  But honestly, the answer is no.  If I'm Stir Crazy it's because I've been Stir Crazy since I lost my job in September.  While I really do HATE cold weather and I'm not impressed with snow (yes, yes, it IS pretty... until the dogs do their business in it and it gets all yucky), yesterday's and today's "blizzard" aren't really going to have much effect on my mental health.

So let me tell you about YESTERDAY!  Stephen had to go in to work - he was scheduled 2-7:30 - and we hadn't done any of the necessary weekly shopping.  We didn't need emergency shopping, as if I'd get cabin fever without milk, eggs, or bread.  We just needed my normal stuff, which happened to include milk and cat food.  We live a normal 40-45 minute drive away from the two stores where we buy our groceries, the Trader Joe's where I used to work, and the Sam's Club where Stephen currently works.  I know he hates to drive that distance on his day off, and he's not terribly keen to shop at the end of his shift.  But we also didn't want to have two vehicles on the road on a crappy weather day, so we opted to "carpool" and I would spend the 5.5 hours shopping while he worked.  It probably sounds like not that great of an option, if you hate grocery shopping (as I know some of you probably do).  But I was going to be "hanging out" with my former coworkers, and I took my laptop with me if I had time still to kill at the end of the day (Sam's has wi-fi), so I'd have posted this yesterday.

We left the apartment at 12:30, just as the lightest of very dry snow was falling.  We'd had no wet precipitation, and all of the roads were already very cold, so driving in took maybe 5 minutes longer than normal.  All of the snow was dry and blowing.  By the time we reached Sam's, it had just begun to accumulate in the gutters and on rooftops and in the Sam's parking lot.  So Sam's wasn't overly busy; nor were they a ghost town.  I did some pre-shopping, to make sure I would be able to get the things we needed at the end of the day, and then I headed out to Trader Joe's, a mere 5 miles away.  It probably took me a good half-hour or more to go that five miles, because there was plenty of slow-moving traffic and the snow was fat flakes by then.   I arrived in the nearly-pristine parking lot, cleared my windows, and went in to shop.

Trader Joe's was nearly empty, and my shopping was easy.  The delivery truck with my particular cat food had arrived while I was there, so I spent the majority of my time there, hanging out near the stock room, waiting for my cat food.  Then I noticed that Stephen had left one text and two voicemail messages, trying to get me to get back out to him, because everyone was leaving early (as they were at TJ's), and he was concerned about me driving in it.  So I had someone check one last time to see if they could get to my cat food, ended up buying a different bag (I know, I know, I'm hoping I can exchange it for what the cats are used to before I actually run out of the open bag), and headed out.

At every red traffic light, I typed a text message of the next road I'd be on, so that when I made those turns, I'd only have to hit "send" and Stephen could stay apprised of my progress.  It took me ONE HOUR to return that five miles.  But the roads weren't "bad," per se.  The worst bits were if I had to stop at a light and lose my momentum; going through the now-slushy intersections caused a little bit of slippage, where the tires couldn't get their traction just right.  The roads between intersections, though?  Straight or curved, level or hilly, didn't matter - as long as I could keep rolling (and there was one stretch where I "coasted" at TWO MILES PER HOUR) I didn't lose traction.

Got to Sam's; checked in with Stephen; did the shopping; he clocked out.  We cleared all the windows, and headed for the highway, which should have been salted and plowed.  We drove exactly one exit before I basically said "Eff this Ess" and we opted for surface streets.  Dry snow on dry streets = No Big Deal.  Wet snow on heavily-trafficked streets (i.e. highways) = NIGHTMARE.

So if, like me, you live somewhere that snow is a rarity so you are an inexperienced snow driver, please learn from my yesterday.  If the air temperature is well below freezing before the snow starts, you have nothing to worry about.  Don't drive like a madman, but it shouldn't be too much of a bother.  When the snow turns to sleet, you have to pay a little more attention.  If the snow turns to freezing rain, or if the streets were already wet before the snow started, STAY HOME.

Now... to get my package out to New Zealand...

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