Monday, February 8, 2010

Home, at Last! - of a Winter Storm, Interstate Traffic, and Utility Trucks

My wife, #3 daughter, and son got back from an unexpectedly long visit at #2 daughter's household, up in the Red River Valley of the north. My son-in-law's, too, of course.

Winter storm warnings are still up - and I'm duly grateful to be back at home.

I was getting a little tired, after a few hours driving on the Interstate, when I noticed a truck up ahead. We'd already passed a line of something like a dozen utility trucks - cherry pickers and all - which had all stopped on the shoulder where one (1) truck-size vehicle had keeled over on its right side.

No idea why so many utility trucks were apparently responding to an accident.

Anyway, back to that truck: it was one of those that looks like a box on wheels from the back. Nothing unusual. I was going along at about 50 miles an hour, which was close to average for traffic there.

And, as I said, after a few hours of driving, I was getting a bit tired. We'd stopped off in Fergus Falls for supper (Debbie's Home Style Kitchen, first stoplight east of the 210 / Lincoln Avenue Interstate exit - highly recommended), but like I said: I was getting a bit tired.

So there we were, after dark, on the Interstate, about six seconds behind this truck, going about 50, when a semi passes us. Nothing unusual about that: the semi was going maybe 55, and I was thinking about picking up the pace a little.

Then I noticed two things:
  1. Beautiful dancing strands of snowy fog were
    • Writhing away from the back of the semi
    • Hiding
      • The road
      • The back of the semi
      • And just about everything else
  2. The red taillights of that truck (not the now-invisible semi)
    • They were getting bigger
      • FAST
I couldn't jam on the brakes. Well, I could - but I've lived in this are long enough to know that you don't do that in road conditions like this.

As gently as I could, given the speed with which that truck's rear end was rushing toward me and my family, I eased back on the gas and slid (bad choice of words - make that merged) into the passing lane, behind the mass of writhing ephemeral tendrils which presumably still concealed the back of a semi.

I think we were going about 45 miles an hour when we rushed by that truck.

My attention was focused on cutting speed as fast as I could, safely, to keep out of the thickest part of whatever the semi was kicking up: while retaining control of our van, staying on the road, and not hitting the other truck.

As the now-crawling truck's headlights receded in the rear-view mirror, the snow tendrils disappeared. The semi was well ahead of us by then. I eased back into the right lane. My wife remarked, casually, "you'd think a driver for [familiar company name omitted] would drive faster."

I wasn't tired any more.


Brigid said...

Though you apparently were tired when writing this post given the number of typos. (You may want to take a look, there are a few too many to list concisely.)

Brian H. Gill said...


Tired? You could say that. I think I've fixed most of them. Maybe all.

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