Safe and sound and none the worse for wear.

The weather forecasters were wrong. We only got about 3 inches of snow. Of course, they say it isn’t over yet. For now the sun is shining through the clouds and I see a tiny promise of blue over the harbor.

Since I was one of the first cars on the roads yesterday morning, I tried to drive a bit off-side the ruts so I was plowing fresh snow rather than driving on compacted ice. It is a safe and sane tactic that kept me pretty much in control of my car. Even so, yesterday’s trip contained a couple of little thrills.

As we (long line of cars) pulled off the ferry and drove out of the terminal toward Anacortes, some jerk on one of the back roads realized s/he was trying to merge into ferry traffic and rather than waiting for the line to pass, pulled out in front of the car in front of me. Luckily, the driver in front of me was prepared for just such an action, and wasn’t going too fast. Double luckily, everyone in the line had left at least three healthy car lengths between them and the person they followed, so we all managed to stop without incident.

The 16 mile stretch between the ferry terminal and open freeway seemed a lot longer than usual yesterday. At one of the main intersections the road was already black ice. I was only going about 12 miles an hour when I rolled through (5 lanes one way, 3 the other) and I felt the rear end of the car slide left. I took my foot off the gas pedal and didn’t touch the break. No one was on the side roads, there was no on coming traffic, and the guy behind me was about a half a block away, so I just nudged the steering wheel left a minute amount, and let my car gently slide into the meridian, where it came to a stop, then I just drove away.

Out on the highway there was only one lane bare. We were all driving about 30 miles an hour because the fog and snow seriously limited our visibility. I watched a 4 wheel drive behind me “leap-frog” up the line pulling in and out of traffic and passing whenever he could. By this time I’d been following the SUV in front of me since we left the ferry, and I had learned to trust his driving, therefore I was a little annoyed when it was my turn to have the marauding pick-up cut in front of me. Of course I saw him coming and slowed down to make room.

The pickup didn’t stay in front of me long. As he swerved into the left lane to go around the SUV, I saw the break lights on the SUV flash. I could not see beyond either of the larger vehicles. The pickup was accelerating, but the SUV was slowing down. I decided to trust the guy in the SUV. I tapped my brakes a couple of times to let the guy behind me know something was up, then slowed down.

Seconds later the tails lights on the pickup glowed red and did a whole lot of shimmying before he came to a total stop. We all rolled on by at about 7 miles an hour. A tanker had slid off the road and took up the full left lane. I imagine that guy in the pick up truck found himself back at the end of the line once he was able to get back in the stream of traffic. He’s lucky he didn’t find himself — and maybe a few of us — dead.

At any rate, I made it to my appointment safely — only to learn that I didn’t actually have an appointment and had driven to the wrong town, but that’s a tale for later ….