Snow, Freezing Rain, Black Ice, and Other Nasty Stuff…

Well, I got a load on the 31st out to West Virginia.  Good enough, plus I got a back haul to Fort Gibson, Oklahoma.

The first several days went pretty well.  I got to see a lot of hills in Kentucky and West Virginia, (they don’t call it the Mountain State for nothing, let me tell you) and had relatively smooth sailing between arms of the ‘Storm of 2011.’  Relatively.

I hit some rain / snow mixed coming out of Weirton, WV but made it back into southern West Virginia ahead of the freezing temperatures, and slipped through Tennessee and Arkansas without having to turn on my windshield wipers except for about half an hour on the east side of Knoxville.

Oh, and I got inspected in Tennessee, level 1, and passed!  They wanted receipts and everything, which I had, and my log was up to date, so I got rewarded with level 1 stickers on truck and trailer.

Anyway, I was extremely fortunate to miss all of the really bad stuff going on around the country.  Just managed to sneak in between all of the ice and snow and slippery goo, and was just thinking I was home free…

And then I got into Oklahoma.  Hells Bells, as my Dad would say!

I got here yesterday morning and I-40 was dry all the way to my turn off up to Fort Gibson.  Then it was 30 miles of potholed ice with a nice snow blanket.  I had serious doubts that I was going to get the load over the overpasses and through the drifts, but somehow I got through.  At about 20 miles an hour the whole darned way.

Coming back out, I hit highway 69 and it was just as bad.  In fact, when I got back to I-40 it was like being on an entirely different planet than the I-40 I left back at highway 2.  Snow over about 3 inches of rough, bumpy ice.  One lane partially open, and that was the fast lane.  Only half of that lane was clear, and by the time I unloaded and got back on the interstate it was already about 5pm.

With temps hovering at about 14 degrees, that one half open lane turned into a black ice skating rink just about the time I got on the interstate.  I counted 2 big rigs and at least 10 cars that went off the road just as I passed through there.

Hilly, shaded roadways by Henryetta were not compatible with safe passage yesterday, that’s for sure!

As I crested one hill, there was one poor guy down off the road in a ravine about 70′ below the roadway and I could see where his tires slid off of the slow lane just as he topped the hill, slid across the black ice on the fast lane, and off the edge.  He was out walking around and talking on his cell, and seemed alright, thankfully!

At any rate, I poked along and stayed on the snowy slow lane and made it (Thank God!) to the Super 8 at Henryetta where I just finished paying for another night.  When I woke up it was SNOWING hard again.

As I type this, there is a new 1/2″ or so of new snow in the parking lot.  Did I say I have learned to HATE winter?  Just in case I didn’t, I HATE WINTER!!!  At least here in Oklahoma where the wind goes sweeping down the plain and there isn’t a full-sized snow plow in sight!

I was completely unprepared for what I found here, 3 days after the ‘big blow.’  I suppose I’m spoiled in my expectations of road maintenance from how they do things in Colorado where they deal with snow regularly.  Up there, 3 days after just about any storm, at least the main highways are completely clear and mostly dry.

Not so here!

I have seen 1 snow plow in this state since I got here yesterday, and it was a pint-sized little thing up on Highway 2 that was just skimming the top layer of snow off of the 3″ thick layer of ice.  Taking off the only thing keeping any traction.  My gosh, all I can say is maybe the state should take a few lessons from snowier areas in road clearing techniques.

But there’s absolutely nothing I can do right now but sit and wait, and fume, and wonder if I’ll get home sometime this month…

All I do know is that they’re saying it will get up to 34 degrees tomorrow but that won’t be until 5pm.  Which may mean I’m stuck here semi-permanently.

Or at least for another week.  This so sucks… the weather forecast is for more very cold weather until at least the end of NEXT week and rain Sunday, and another snow storm following on the heels of that by Wednesday… and rain in sub-freezing temperatures is definitely a traffic stopper.

And as much as I want to get home, I really don’t want to wreck or die trying to get there.  I’m trying to cultivate some patience with this whole OKDOT road clearing FAIL and be understanding.  But it’s not easy…

Last night on the Weather Channel they were showing road clearing the way it should be done.  I was so jealous I almost broke out in tears.  The scene was a 4 lane highway with about 6 big old snow plows working in conjunction clearing the roadway somewhere up north!  Oh, how good that looked to me…

The only silver lining to this whole thing is that unless I have to spend it all here at the Super 8 if I can’t get out tomorrow is that I might have made a pretty good paycheck.  So far just the back-haul has paid for almost all of my expenses out and back.

I know whining about it won’t do me any good.  But it does make me feel a little better… still, I can hear the old-timers laughing at me and saying, “Welcome to trucking!”


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