A blog experiment by Brad Mills.


Snow-covered roads

Ok, can we please knock off all this winter bullshit for awhile? It's not even the first day yet, and we're already into our third big storm. Today's was the worst so far — roads largely untreatable because the snow was coming too fast, accidents galore, finding cars covered in snow after sitting for just an hour.

Yes, I drove in it. Slow and easy. Kanawha Boulevard was covered, the interstate was covered... just a ridiculous amount of snow. I hated to approach a stop sign or light for fear of sliding through and hitting someone. Fortunately, that didn't happen. Also fortunately, most of the idiots — the ones who think snowfall means it's time to play Dale Earnhardt — stayed home while I was traveling. Generally I moved at about half the posted speed limit. Everyone around me mostly did the same, and while it was slower than normal, it was safe.

Snowy hill Here's a picture of the street I have to drive on every day to get out of my neighborhood. It's obviously uphill, and I'm standing in the middle of it about halfway up the hill. To my immediate right is the street leading to my house, which has been plowed exactly once in the eleven years I've lived there. The hill I'm facing here gets plowed occasionally, though it's done by somebody in the neighborhood with a blade on the front of his riding lawnmower and never on any kind of reliable basis. Normally when it's bad like this, you have to go to the bottom of the hill (there's another street running parallel to mine down there) and get a good burst of speed going up it so you have enough momentum to reach the top. If I were in a car in this position trying for a cold start up the hill, there's no way I'd ever make it to the top.

There's an obligatory slow down at the top of the hill before going out onto the main road, which is US 119. Technically there's a stop sign, which you can kind of see in this picture, and most of the time, the rules of the road apply. But when the hill is covered in snow... let's just say sometimes you just cross your fingers. What you want to hope is that nothing is coming on US 119, so you can ride that momentum all the way out without having to stop. Or, alternately, if you have to stop, you hope you don't just sit there and spin your wheels when you try to move again. Yes, that has happened to me before, and yes, I have gone down that hill backwards before as a result.

School has already been canceled for tomorrow. Kanawha County usually doesn't make that decision until 5:00 in the morning, and when they do, we get an automated phone call which wakes us up. In prior school years the voice on the other end sounded like Stephen Hawking. This year, it sounds like someone more appropriate for the area. For them to be making the decision this early, regardless of whose voice conveys the message, doesn't bode well for tomorrow's road conditions.

Or that hill.

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