Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Everything is White

Today I drove from Idaho Falls to Bozeman, Montana for a deposition in a civil case. My planned route was to drive through West Yellowstone and up to Bozeman.

As I passed through Ashton, the roads were so bad that you could not see any yellow or white lines. It was snowing sideways, and the wind was blowing hard. I stopped at a post office to get help with my directions.

I was told to change course. I should take Hwy 87 up to Ennis, and then pass over to Bozeman from there.

Boy was that bad advice.

If I thought that the lack of lines on the road was bad, I hadn't seen anything yet. For the whole drive on Hwy 87, I had absolutely no hills or mountainside to protect me from the wind and blowing snow. The only way I knew that I was on the road, or in the right lane (two lanes, one northbound and one south), was to carefully follow the snowplow right in front of me. I only knew that the snowplow was there because I could barely see two flashing lights.

But all of the snow that the plow was shooting off into the air was landing on my windshield. I couldn't get it off well with my wipers, and I didn't dare stop to scrape the windshield. So I had to turn up the heat in the car as high as it went in order to keep the windshield hot enough to melt the snow. After a while it was just so unbearable that I had to let the plow go ahead. I would have to depend on the snow markers on the side of the road, which I could barely see because the snow was so high anyway.

Everything was just a big white blur. I couldn't see cars ahead of me, I couldn't see cars driving toward me, I didn't know what lane I was in, and there was 8-feet of snow to the side of me. I couldn't stop, because there was no place to pull over. If I did, I'd get halfway stuck and be hit by oncoming traffic. I could have just as well been blindfolded and still drive as well as I did.

Suddenly, I realized I was too close to the 8-foot wall. I slightly jerked the wheel, and immediately I was spinning and hopelessly trying to adjust at the same time. I spun into the oncoming lane, and, thank goodness, I thought to back up instead of doing something stupid. I'm grateful I got out alive.

One thing I noticed on my trip was that there were almost NO cars on the road for my entire trip. I was practically the only one foolish enough to drive a Toyota Corolla on those roads.

On my way home, I took the West Yellowstone route instead. I'm never asking for directions at a post office again!