How Bad Could It Really Be, The Finish

We left for our hotel with four streets to find and the directions, “I think it’s right by the restaurant we were at.” It was. I was barely a mile away from the restaurant. We assumed the hotel was a mile away on the wrong side. Considering we had made it 90% of the way there, two miles was still a long way to be wrong by. Generally you don’t see signs from that far away.

And then I remembered that I had printed directions to the place before we left. The address was on them. We fell asleep shortly there after.

Saturday morning we had to pack up again – we planned to be in Wichita, Kansas, that night to take a little of the driving time off of Sunday. The weather forecast was for six inches of snow in Tulsa. We were thrilled. When we woke up, it was sleeting on the snow and freezing.

The wedding itself went well. The church was filled a little past capacity and people were calling to say they wouldn’t be able to make it due to the weather. We had cake and food. People socialized. A limo picked the newlyweds up at 5pm. We were on the road at a quarter after five. Up to this point, we had directions everywhere. I had directions out of Tulsa from our hotel but not from the church. We figured we could wing it and find the highway we needed to get out of town.

For those of you who haven’t been in Tulsa, there are about five main highways that run through the town. They curve a little and travel a few different directions. Amongst these five highways are around 213 highway numbers. You see signs like

Hwy 65, 412, 44, 67, 31 – Ahead ¼ mi Hwy 48, 382, 114, 52 – Ahead 2.5 mi If you’re looking for Hwy 95 or 742, Abandon all hope now

I was still raining as we left and we didn’t have any good sense of direction. We knew that at some point we were on 412 (which we wanted) and then we stopped seeing signs for it. Five miles later we started to suspect that something was wrong.

I called Rhiannon. I told her what highway I thought we were on and asked if she could tell us how to get back to the right one. She asked where we were. I told her “In a car.”

I have been known to throw some sarcasm around from time to time in the past. This was not one of those times. That was really as much as I knew. We took the next exit, and by the towns on that road, figured out how to get back to where we needed to be. No problem, it was still just raining and we were only 10 miles south of the road we needed. From the weather on the news that morning, we thought we would be driving north out of the system.

The system was a little bigger than expected. We drove north, out of the rain and into the snow. One lane was still wet and our Mitsubishi Galant was handling the conditions like a champ, regardless of how much ridicule it had taken in Tulsa. As we filled gas that night, Brett asked how much gas the tank held. For some reason we had the owner’s manual of a Lancer in the car – weird, but people have been known to make mistakes.

The next morning we discovered that the car had Lancer on the back of it.

Someone married our car off while we were at the church. We continued out of Tulsa in the now Galant-Lancer, driving out of the snow on two wet and dry roads. Rhiannon called and told us it was snowing in Denver and there were blizzard warnings for the eastern part of the state along the interstate we were coming in on.

We looked around at the sun and blue sky, and looked ahead of us to the white, bright, and shiny clouds and thought that does not look like a blizzard. How bad could it really be?

The snow blowing across the road made icy tracks on the right lane. These tracks slowly grew to cover the lane, and then crept across the highway, until the entire road was covered in a white film. I thought we were still ok – I could change lanes, I could stop if given enough time. Ahead of us we saw a semi jack-knifed in one lane. We moved to the other lane, as did the vehicle in front of us. Then we tried to slow down. The road was a little slipperier than I thought. We were saved by the rumble strip providing traction to one wheel by about two feet and got the you-should-know-better finger wag from one of the firemen on scene.

We continued on, undaunted by the weather (which was no longer bright and shiny but more dark and foreboding) or road conditions. I knew that I couldn’t stop quickly and tried to keep a good distance from any cars in front of us. Maybe the hill where four semis were stuck because they had no traction to get the top should have been a sign.

It wasn’t.

Maybe the multitude of cars we saw in the ditch should have prompted us to slow down a little.

It didn’t.

Maybe the SUV that spun on the highway, slid into the ditch and rolled over should have made us stop.

It did.

I was running across the highway to get to the median and see if the driver was ok and I realized I wasn’t so much running as I was skating/sliding on the solid ice sheet that passed for a road. The driver was fine. His dog was fine. In the shock of the moment, he thought that if we could just tip the vehicle back on its wheels, he could keep driving it.

Brett and I looked at the vehicle and the several fluids leaking from the engine onto the snow and thought that might not be such a good idea. We “helped” the other people that had stopped in their attempt to flip it over – we told them not to get stuck under the car if it rolled back down the hill on them. We made sure someone was staying with the driver and kept on the road.

We slowed down. The message got through.

We ended up getting to town about thirty minutes before they closed the highway completely.

Moral: Take a map and don’t ask how bad things can be. Congratulations to Brandon and Merissa and hopefully they are enjoying the weather in Aruba, far away from the snow and ice we have here.