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...but that didn't take Minnesnowta out of the girl. You wanna go someplace? It's snowing? So what? It's snowing rather a lot? So what? You wanna go; you go. You don't do anything stupid. You assess the situation. You opt for the route where it's snowing, rather than the route where the sleet is falling. You note that none of the areas you're driving through are expected to get more than a foot of snow. You drive carefully. But you go. 'Cause, y'know, it really is possible to drive on and through snow.

Which is how it came to be that at three o'clock Friday afternoon, I set a new record for difficulty in getting up my driveway. It took four tries -- up until the car stopped, back down to the bottom (I hate driving in reverse, especially on a curve), then up again, first to the same spot, back to the bottom, then up a bit farther before another reverse down the hill. Finally! All the way to the top of the drive and the snow-covered road.

I must really want to go to Lunacon.

At the end of the first hour, I was near Buckland Hills Shopping Center in Windsor, CT. That 30 miles is usually a half-hour drive. Half of it is on back country roads, the second half on the interstate. Today that second half was something masquerading as an interstate.

About this point, Joe Siclari called. He was heading to the Lunacon hotel, and suggested that if I came to the hotel, I could leave my car there and ride home with him. Good plan, especially since his car has 4-wheel drive and his plow fairies hadn't been by yet. Joe and Edie's driveway is my shorter and straighter than mine. It doesn't feel as steep, but the angle might be.

An hour later, I was 30 miles further along. About 20-25 miles into that, Joe called. He was heading back home; traffic wasn't going much of anywhere. Much as he was looking forward to going to the convention and hanging Sarah Clemens' art, it simply wasn't going to happen Friday afternoon.

Trip miles 60-65 took another 30 minutes, most of that spent on a ramp from I-691 back onto the parking lot that was I-84.

And 30 minutes after that, I was in Waterbury, 7 miles further down the road. The total for my third hour on the road of what is usually a 2-hour trip: 12 miles.

I stopped at exit...22, I think. The one in Waterbury with the Barnes and Noble I visited in January, when elaine_brennan and I visited her mother in Naugatuck. The freeway was still a parking lot, but that's not so unusual between 5:30 and 6pm. I figured I'd take a break, have a snack at the B&N cafe, get online, post this, and give it time to clear out a bit.

It was a minute or two after 6 when I hauled myself and my computer up to the bookstore. There was a sign on the door: "Due to the weather, Barnes and Noble is closing at 6pm."

I gently threw myself on the mercy of the employee at the door. He let me in to use the restroom facilities; I was the last customer to leave the store. No email pass, let alone writing up the adventure for LJ. I picked up sushi and milk at the Shaw's market next door, cleared the ice that has accumulated on the car, and set out again.

Yes, ice. The sleet moved further west that predicted during the first couple hours I was on the road. Joy.

Traffic cleared considerably during my 40-minute stop. I averaged close to 35 mph for the last 50 or so miles to Fanhihall.

Cars skidded off the road in front of me; cars skidded off the road behind me. But most of us kept going down the road at whatever seemed to be a reasonable speed considering the crappy road conditions, and the overwhelming majority of us did so safely.

When I set out from Toad Woods, I knew the odds were that I'd only make it as far as Fanhihall on Friday, that the Lunacon part of the weekend would most likely be a Saturday and perhaps Sunday affair. I gave some thought to turning back between hours 1 and 2, but knew it would take even longer to get back home thanks to the 3-mile-long parking lot that was I-91 Northbound at that point. I just kept driving.

Would I have come at all if I'd known it was going to turn into a 5-5.5 hour trip? Hmmm....probably. Driving down Saturday morning was an option, but the odds of getting to the hotel in time for Donato's 11am Hand Job (a live painting demo) would have been iffy at best. I'm here for the art, for what I remember of the art show three years ago, and how much that blew me away. It will be good to see some people, too.

I kept an eye on hotels along the way, and also on my own sense of where I was in terms of driving comfort. While it was far from my favorite road trip, I've been on far, far worse. I knew I wasn't immune to ending up in a ditch myself, but the drive didn't feel all that dangerous. Just long. It felt very, very long. Oh. That's no doubt because it was.

The rest of the evening was full of comfort: Joe's homemade potato soup and broiled lamb chops, accompanied by hours of excellent conversation. That rocked.

Sleep now. Up in a few hours. Onward. And All That Jazz....

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
kate_schaefer
Mar. 17th, 2007 06:30 am (UTC)
Wow. You really do want to go to Lunacon.

I remember a Lunacon about 30 years ago, in New Jersey. I spent a lot of time in the inside hot tub, which had a nifty underwater tunnel connecting it to the outdoor somewhat heated pool, which was surrounded by snow. Swim through the tunnel, admire the snow, swim back through the tunnel.

(Can that memory be correct? Sure seems like a dangerous way to connect a pool and a hot tub.)

Have a great time, and get home safely. My best regards to Joe et alia.
redbird
Mar. 17th, 2007 02:18 pm (UTC)
Yes, that memory can be correct: I remember that pool, and people swimming underneath, climbing out for a few seconds into the cold air, and then jumping back into the warm pool.
lauriemann
Mar. 17th, 2007 11:01 am (UTC)
I'm glad you made it safely to Joe and Edie's!

This reminds me a little of our trip to Confusion in 1977. The trip from Pittsburgh to southern Michigan is normally about five hours. We had a strikingly bad snowstorm Friday morning, which was still going on as we left. We were stuck in Pittsburgh traffic for about two hours, going about 10 miles. During the time we were stuck, the snow stopped, it cleared up, but the wind whipped up and the temperature dropped precipitously.

You guessed it - ice all the way. To say that the Pennsylvania and Ohio turnpikes were trecherous really minimizes how dangerous the situation was. Cars and trucks were off the road all over the place. The highway closed in north central Ohio, and we were forced onto a much smaller road.

A jackknifed tractor trailer prevented us from any further westward movement.

We turned around and stopped at the nearest Holiday Inn, which turned out to be in Sandusky Ohio. We got one of the last rooms at the Inn, grabbed some very late dinner and watched Roots.

The next morning, it was very clear and very cold. Highways were still closed all over the place, though they were more open going east than going west. We heard one particularly scary story of some number of people freezing to death overnight in a car stuck on a highway.

We decided to drive back to Pittsburgh instead of continuing onward.
gerisullivan
Mar. 17th, 2007 01:49 pm (UTC)
Yes, back to Pittsburgh that time sounds very wise indeed. Steve Sullivan and I made a drive that bad in March of '79, returning to Michigan at the end of our first trip to Minneapolis. We spent about 10 hours getting from Minneapolis to the north side of Madison under conditions very similar to what you described. (Without the frozen travelers, thank Ghu.) When we stopped, we learned the highway had been closed -- our motel was filled with truckers whose collective attitude was, "Hey, we can't drive. That means we can drink! All very cheerful, and raucous. Topp's Family Inn even had a good, affordabe steakhouse. I still think fondly of the place every time I drive by it. I don't think fondly of that drive, though. If conditions had been that bad yesterday, I'd be at Toad Woods right now rather than at Joe and Edie's breakfast table.
redbird
Mar. 17th, 2007 02:19 pm (UTC)
Snow by itself, yes, you deal.

It's blizzard conditions (as in, serious wind and low visibility) and freezing rain that will cause me to cancel things.

Two or three inches of sleet on the ground doesn't delight me either.
apostle_of_eris
Mar. 17th, 2007 05:38 pm (UTC)
Classic Confusion
(I see I've already been beaten to the punch with classic Confusion stories. The one Laurie refers to may have been the year Kate Wilhelm was Guest of Honor. The Closed Hall Party was at that one, but that's another thread.
(However, I was also beneficiary, that year, of Dana Siegel, hostess of the closed hall party, who happened to be passing by the front desk of the hotel when someone canceled a block of ten reservations. She told the clerk, "I'll take them," and then went around finding people who needed rooms. I was one.)

My favorite Getting To Confusion Story was about someone coming from Chicago along I-95 across lower Michigan, moving with the weather, who had to get off the Interstate to get gas. When they went to get back on, there was a state trooper car across the onramp, because the Interstate (on which they'd been driving) was closed.
So they backed out a little, turned off their headlights, and drove around the police car to get back on the Interstate and continue on to Ann Arbor. (Yes, through snow so dense that visibility was that low.)

As for hot tubs . . . the Plymouth Hilton, home to many Confusions, had both a hot tub (origin of the No Chocolate in the Jacuzzi rule) and a sauna. One year, a bunch of people from the sauna ran out into the snow of the parking lot . . . to find another, much less happy group changing a flat tire.
So after the people in bathing suits came in from the snow back to the sauna, and after the tire got fixed, the people in the parkas came in from the snow, into the sauna and joined the people in bathing suits.

So you really did want to go to Lunacon; so you did.
Good on ya.
Hoping for a great weekend for you.
jeffreyab
Mar. 17th, 2007 09:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Classic Confusion
Kate Wilhelm was 1978.

Spider and Jeanne Robinson was 1979.

See here for all your ConFusion info:

http://www.stilyagi.org/past_years.html
(Anonymous)
Mar. 17th, 2007 09:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Classic Confusion
The list doesn't have a Blizzard column, which would have to include the all-important detail of Friday or Sunday. "my" Confusion got on Sunday -- they wouldn't let us leave!
jeffreyab
Mar. 17th, 2007 09:06 pm (UTC)
Lucky the truckers slowed down.

In Ontario on the 401 in a blizzard I have seen them barrelling along at 120 kph oblivious to the conditions.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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