The White Wall

So, I was working at home in Ortonville yesterday afternoon following a lunch meeting in Clinton, and I turned on MPR for some company.  Turns out, snow-maggedon was coming and I hadn’t even known it.

I’d planned on cruising down to the farm today to spend the weekend and attend a planning commission meeting Monday on the renting of my house.  I don’t have enough paved parking spaces to do it without a variance, and renting+paying a mortgage is tough on the finances.

It was 3:30 when I heard about snow-maggedon.  It was 3:58 when I headed out the door–hoping I’d remembered enough of each clothing article to get me through.  I at least thought to throw in H’s unbleached #4 coffee filters–there are some things we can’t get in Big Stone County, but there are also some things we can’t find regularly in Vermillion.

I also packed my winter emergency kit, my Sorels, and my snowshoes.

Milbank was overcast, but the roads were dry.  In fact, it was fine ’til just past Clear Lake, when I ran into a formidable white wall of fog and the wind picked up.  The roads were still good–but you know when you run into something like that, the really ugly stuff is swirling around in there somewhere. Oh, and it was getting dark, of course.

The game becomes making as good a time as you can without rear-ending someone in the fog because the farther you get, the less crud you’re going to have to drive through.  But at that point, with at least 2 hours left to drive (that would be in good weather), I knew I wasn’t going to beat the entire storm.

It’s a harrowing thing to be going 35mph on a 75mph stretch of the interstate and wondering if maybe you’re going a little too fast.  And thinking, “they should really close this road I’m driving on.”

I couldn’t avoid stopping at the Ward rest area (I’d made a full thermos of tea for the trip), and when I stepped out of the truck, I nearly dropped on my behind.  I was driving (and now attempting to walk) on sheer ice.  And I was going to have to get back on the road and do that for another hour at least before I cleared the ice-band.

After relieving myself and relieving the wipers of their thick coating of ice (I’d had the vents going full blast because even with a very good heater, it was hard to keep the windshield free of ice), I got back in and steeled myself for further adventure.

Finally got free of it just north of Sioux Falls–it took awhile to get myself out of slow crawl driving mode after how bad it’d been–even when vehicles were cruising by me at 65mph.  But I got back up to speed and headed onto drier, safer roadways south of the “big city.”

Was even able to turn onto University Road for the last leg–stars were out and the temps steadily increased.  When I pulled onto the farmstead, it was 40 degrees with clear skies, and we headed into town for an oatmeal stout at Carey’s and a pineapple-broccoli-roasted red pepper-goat cheese R-Pizza.

It’s funny to be telling people the hell you’ve been driving through in a place where they’d been stripping off layers and playing outside all day.  People kept asking, “are we going to get that?”

Well, we found out this morning the answer was, “yes.”  The wind chills are in the teens to twenty below, snow is falling and blowing and drifting, and yesterday’s balmy dream has abruptly ended.

Out on the farm, the road is drifting in.  H is warming up the van now to make a town run for supplies (yes, I realize we should’ve done this last night) so we can snugly resign ourselves to our snowed-in fate.

By the time I head back north on Tuesday morning, the roads should be clear, and it’ll be a balmy 20+ degrees down here (projected to be a balmy 14 in Ortonville).  I should have enough time to dig out my house in town, so I don’t get tagged for snow removal again, and hopefully I’ll be able to put the place on the rental list.

‘Til then–some online time, a little reading, and maybe even a nap.  Snow-maggedon isn’t so bad with the right company!


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