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 ….

Hummingbirds in Snow

We still have Hummingbirds, and since I figured you wouldn’t believe me, I took photographs to prove it — lousy photographs, but photographs nonetheless.

I took this shot through the dining room window.  That white stuff you see on the roof behind the bird is snow.  I have three Hummingbird feeders but only one is out for the winter.  During our cold snap I had to switch the bottles out every half-hour to 45 minutes to keep the syrup from freezing.

Amoeba calls this fellow pictured above “Dog”, as in Dog-in-the-manger, because he perches on the feeder and won’t let the others come near it.  That only works for awhile though, and then one will get brave enough to challenge him and manage a drink.

This isn’t a very good shot, either. I guess it is hard to take a decent photo when one is shivering. Here you see the Hummingbird on the porch rail in what is left of my herb garden.   Beyond him you can see white snow on the lawn.

UPDATE:  Kelley (Southlakes Mom) sent me a link to a great National WildLife article: The Humingbirds of Winter.

Slip Sliding Away

I was in the coffee shop Tuesday when it started to snow.  We looked out the window and ohhed and ahhed, then went back to sipping our beverages and chatting.  I love the coffee shop because it is designed like a living room and everyone chats with everyone.  After awhile one of the regulars disturbed our joy and laughter by pointing out that the snow was falling rather thick and fast.

As one we turned to the window and ohhed and ahhed again, but this time in gasps instead of sighs. Cups were emptied, newspapers were folded and the place cleared out.  I said to Mona, “You know, I haven’t driven in snow in 14 years.  I don’t remember it being a horrid, big deal, but with the locals acting like this, I think I’d better go on home myself.”

The coffee shop sits on an incline.  No sooner had I stood up and donned my coat, then an SUV slid down the hill sideways.   That convinced Mona that she needed to close the coffee shop and go home herself.  That’s when I suggested we both visit the supermarket in case we were going to be snowed in for awhile.  Mona agreed and we tidied the store quick fast.  Just as we were locking the doors the sanding truck went by, which made me feel much better.

I was parked in front of the store, which means I had to start driving mid-incline.  I did so very cautiously — and was pleasantly surprised to find I had no trouble whatsoever.   I had to make a left-hand turn at the top of the hill and thanks to the sand I did so easily.   Mona pulled out of the store parking lot and followed me.

The corner at the top of the hill was a three way stop.  After we cleared it, a big Silverado was between Mona and I so I couldn’t see her anymore.  The corner at Guard and Blair was slick.  For a few seconds I thought I was staying there, but I applied the gas slowly and managed to catch enough traction to roll off the slick spot.  The corner at Blair and Park was just as bad.  I knew Mona was still behind me because I saw her rear-end fishtail in the intersection.

Spring Street and Blair gets so much traffic it was bare pavement.  I used that bit of reprieve to take a deep breath.   I’m glad I didn’t relax though.  The Silverado made a right turn and Mona was once again behind me.  In fact, just for the briefest moment at the corner of Market Place and Blair I thought Mona was going to end up in my trunk.   That’s when I learned that my reflexes are still good and despite not using my winter driving skills in years, they still function.

The entire intersection at Market Place and Blair was ice.  I was going less than 10 miles an hour and the back end of my car started to fishtail.  I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw Mona having the same trouble.  I needed to get my car under control and get out of her way, but my tires had no traction. I also needed to make a right hand turn but didn’t see how that was going to happen, either.

I decided it was time to stop driving on the ice trail and make my own path. I don’t drive an SUV, but it was only a few inches of snow.  I let my car slide into the parking lane (there were no parked cars on the street) then I simply drove away through the fresh snow.  Mona followed me.

We got our groceries and then went our separate ways, Mona to her home and me to mine.  We both made it without incident.  Even so, Mona is thinking of trading her island beater car in on an Outlander.  She says she’s ready for some muscle in her car.  And I’m looking at finding an SUV that Amoeba will approve environmentally.   Not that I am holding out much hope for getting a new car.  Amoeba’s solution for beating the horrid driving conditions was to walk to and from work this week.

Weathering the Weather

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of AccuWeather. All opinions are 100% mine.

Whether the weather be cold or whether the weather be hot,
Whether the weather be warm or whether the weather be not,
Whatever the weather, we’ll weather the weather,
Whether we like it or not.

I learned that song in the third grade when I was learning the spell weather and whether.  It is a handy little teaching ditty, but it is also true.  Have you ever made plans the weather spoiled?  Last Summer we went to Vancouver, B.C. and spent three days camping in the rain.

I bet AccuWeather could have better prepared us for what was ahead. It was a science expedition so we would have gone anyway, but we would have taken warmer clothes and waterproof coats. Because of the way I was dressed I pretty much spent the three days sitting in the tent or the car. I really should have brought more than one book to read, but who knew I wouldn’t be out beachcombing?

AccuWeather knew, that’s who! And, AccuWeather not only keeps me up-to-date on the weather, it also keeps me up to date on allergies, gardening — even the best days for mowing the lawn! The website is customizable. On my computer I have it set to monitor health conditions, but with a click of my mouse I can check out the weekly gardening forecast and even get reports on soil moisture as well! Plus, after dark, with another click of my button, I can find out what stars I can expect to see in the night sky.

Foggy Mornings & Sunny Afternoons

For the last several mornings I have woken to find I am the only person who exists in the world.  I look out my window and there is nothing beyond my balcony but white.  The harbor and the entire town are gone — completely devoured by the fog.

Soon though, a sunbeam burns through and touches my patio.  I watch it move slowly toward my window.  Soon it breaks into the house and joins me in my chair, warming me along with my morning tea.

As the sunbeam advances, the fog retreats.  It isn’t long before even the most stubborn wisps are chased from the tree tops.  The sun blazes gloriously and dances off the water.  Today as I drove toward town I wondered about buying wholesale sunglasses.  There don’t seem to be any in the stores in town and I could probably make a killing right now selling them from a corner stand.

When I got out of the car at the store parking lot, I had to keep my head down and my eyes on the ground because of the glare from the sun.  Since it is supposed to be winter here, I didn’t bother to pack my shades and could really do with a new pair or three myself  (I like to keep  a variety of styles on hand).  Besides, Amoeba excels at losing sun glasses, so having a whole warehouse full at my fingertips appeals to me.