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Joel’s Journal - Entry #102 - 2/10/2017
It wasn’t this one, but it was pretty damn close.
As I mentioned yesterday, I was making the drive from Oshawa to Kitchener to visit my family this weekend, and just in time for the drive, a snowstorm blew into the GTA last night.
When I packed up from the office for the day, my duffel bag was already ready and waiting in my trunk and I was hitting the road.
The snow had been coming down pretty consistently since noon and the plows were unable to keep up.
As I eased my car around the turn of the ramp to get onto the 401, the realization that this was going to be a rough go started to sink in. The highway was a disaster zone. Dark parallel lines of pavement were the only things visible through the snow, carved into the slush by the passing tires of the cars in front of me. The pace was slow going. I don’t think I got going above 50 kph until the other side of Toronto. That stretch usually takes me about 45 minutes (30 minutes on a good day) but this time it took me almost two hours. There were jack-knifed tractor trailers, cars in the ditch and others stalled on the shoulders. Two trucks hauled dented and wrecked vehicles and the brake lights beamed strings of redness into the night.
The frustration started to build about halfway through the trip as all I wanted was to get home and drink a cold beer. I hadn’t eaten much dinner either, so I was probably starting to get a little hangry, which didn’t help the situation.
When I finally pulled into the driveway it was over three hours later. On a day without traffic, I could make the drive there and back in that same amount of time.
Nevertheless, I grabbed my bags and practically ran to the front door. I was greeted by Jude’s snout (and bark) and a big hug from my mom.
As is typical, my first stop was the fridge and I shoved my face with some leftovers as I caught up with mom before heading downstairs for some pool and beer with my brother and his friends.
And that was pretty much it, but it was enough to just melt away the stress from the drive like a blast of hot sun on a pile of muddy snow.
There just a feeling of walking through the front door at home that can’t compare to anything else.
Before I go though, I will tell you the story of my worst drive ever. It was one of the few times behind the wheel that I was actually scared for my life.
It was in 2014 and I was out west in Athabasca. I had been working my reporting job there for a couple months. I had been down to Calgary a couple times since moving out there as it was the only place in the province where I had friends and family.
It was a Friday, and I was looking forward to hitting the road for the four hour drive into the city. For those who don’t know, Athabasca is in the northern part of Alberta, a few hours south of Fort McMurray and about two hours north of Edmonton (four hours north of Calgary).
The drive down is a pretty straight shot of open highway, mostly twinned, all the way through farmer’s fields and a few smaller cities.
It wasn’t snowing when I left, but after about an hour in, I could barely see beyond the hood of my car. The highway speed limit out there is typically 110 kph, and I think I was going about 40, if that.
I gripped the wheel tighter than I ever have, fought against the gusts of wind that threatened to pull my car into the ditch and avoided the snowdrifts that were creeping out onto the road as if they were alive, white globs slowly unfolding over the black pavement.
It was like that for nearly three hours, and by the time I arrived, my heart was beating so fast that I thought I was going to have a heart attack, or a panic attack or something.
But, I survived, and learned a valuable lesson, don’t drive during Alberta snowstorms.
Thanks for reading! And this weekend be sure to keep doing what you love, and doing it well.