Thursday, December 9, 2010

lake effect snow

If you live on the wrong side of the Great Lakes, this story will sound familiar. For those of you who don’t know whether you’re on the wrong side of the Great Lakes or not, trust me, you aren't. The great city of Cleveland sits on the south shore of Lake Erie. Until Lake Erie and Lake Huron freeze (evidently even Lake Huron is too damn close), we can get a lot of snow in a very short time. Being an adopted son of Ohio, I feel obligated to blame Michigan for the snow that comes off of Lake Huron. Now I’m not talking Donner Pass, you eat your uncles’ leg kind of snow, but a lot of snow. But I digress. Until the Great Lakes freeze over, we can get "hope the snow blower fires up" kind of snow.

When I arrived at work Thursday morning, the air was filled with large pretty white snow flakes. I knew that the winds had changed, since we hadn’t gotten any snow for the last three days by the lake while 15 miles southwest where we live had got slammed with the white stuff. The snow did not stop. The snow picked up in the afternoon. I heard “snow day” being whispered around the room. Since Ohio has a three day limit on catastrophe days, I discussed the concept of the individual snow day with my students. My evil cynical twin thinks that the concept of the individual snow day could present us with the perfect school day, school is open but all the students called off because there is two feet of snow on the ground.

I kept waiting to see a city snow plow drive past the school. As it played out, the whole city was waiting for snow plows. They must have been swallowed into some kind of dimensional time shift, or some other kind of science fictional explanation. There is no other explanation that doesn’t put the snow crews playing cards or plowing politicians' streets. Everyone was anxious to leave. When it was time to go, I never saw school empty out so fast. I wasn’t concerned. The Aztec has new tires and in a past life, I drove for a living. I had a full tank of gas, 5 gallons of windshield washer fluid and a broom. The only thing I needed was food because getting home was going to take a while. I had a remedy for the food situation, Siam Café. I got on the Shore Way and to my surprise it was bumper to bumper and going nowhere. Alright, I wasn’t really surprised. The trip to go the three miles from school to the restaurant took close to an hour. OK, I thought, the trip will be slow but manageable. The restaurant parking lot had a foot of snow in it and it was full of cars. Evidently a bunch of people think like me: Thai food for the trip home.

Normally Siam Café is a five minute drive to the expressway; not today. Oh, did I mention that I still had not seen a city snow plow or police car? Where were these guys? It took another hour and a half to get on the expressway. Anarchy reigned. Drivers ignored traffic signals, drove the wrong way on the streets. Tempers flared because of fender benders. Guys with male enhancement issues drove their pickups and SUVs around as if the rest of us should part the waves. Well, I have a sense of humor and was not in a hurry since I had a ton of food, so I just seemed to get in these guys' way. I saw no reason to get out of their way. Eventually, in two orders' of siam wings worth of time, I saw the expressway entrance. The promised land awaited, if I could only get there before I ran out of food. Did I mention that I had still not seen a city plow or any of its esteemed safety force?

In Chicago, mayoral elections have been won and lost over snow. If there is even a hint of snow in Chicago, everyone whose job relies on getting rid of the snow or on being re-elected is on the job. I finally spotted a police car. It was spinning its tires and going nowhere. For crying out loud, is the city too broke to keep good tires on the cop cars? You can only laugh. I finally got on the expressway. That 20 minute trip had taken a mere two and a half hours; not bad. It was still snowing as I headed south. As if by a miracle, actually because of wind patterns, the snow stopped, the expressway was clear and traffic was going 70. To show that nature has a sense of humor, officially Cleveland did not get any snow yesterday because no snow fell at the official weather station. It was sunny there.

My whole trip, which normally takes about an hour, clocked in at 3hours 45 minutes. It really could have been worse, and the trip became a blogging event.

Inching along on St Clair.
Inching along on Superior.
Still inching along on Superior. When I started this adventure it was light out.
Hey! No buttinskies. This jamoke needed a lesson on which side of the road to drive on. My Aztec happened to just slide over enough to make him stop. No one let him in. His mother would be ashamed, unless of course his mother drives like this also.

The promised land.
Beauty in the least expected places.

Ode to gridlock.


15 comments:

rohrerbot said...

This is great....I miss this time of year back home. Wisconsin, in particular, Two Rivers always gets Lake Effect....it's fun as long as you're not driving:) Thanks for sharing the pics.

Ali said...

Wow, the other side of the planet, more like the other side of the universe. That's just amazing, it's 30 something degrees celcius here, I'm sunburnt and sweating just sitting around drinking a nice cold beer.

Cheers Jim, I'm so glad you got home safe and sound.

Ali said...

Wow, the other side of the planet, more like the other side of the universe. That's just amazing, it's 30 something degrees celcius here, I'm sunburnt and sweating just sitting around drinking a nice cold beer.

Cheers Jim, I'm so glad you got home safe and sound.

FlowerLady said...

Yikes! I guess I'll not complain so much about our overly crowded roads once the 'snow birds' (tourists) get down here. At least we don't have to deal with snow and ice too. Just crazy, aggressive drivers.

FlowerLady

Kalipso said...

Hi Jim, funny, a few days ago I have looked at Google maps how far away from the Great Lakes you are!
As always, I enjoyed reading the post. We too have lots of snow.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Boy Jim, you really got socked in! We used to love and hate those snow day because it meant we had to go a day longer for each one at the end of the school year.

We are supposed to get heavy snow tomorrow.

Eileen

Marguerite said...

Goodness how smart you are picking up food for the drive. I'll keep that in mind for the future. Otherwise our truck is loaded with extra clothes, blankets, candles, shovel and the sort.

p3chandan said...

At this end of the world, I always thought snow is soo enchanting and beautiful! My friend's kids went to London last night just to experience the winter there! I guess it has its ungliness and poses a lot of problem too...

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Good grief what a mess. I can say that because I am an Ohioan. LOL! In my case food and potty breaks both would have been a worrisome matter. LOL! My car would have never made it through that much snow I do not think. Glad you made it home safe.

Esther Montgomery said...

I think I would have been very lonely in a car, in the snow, in the dark.

Esther

Kathryn said...

thanks for reminding me why I live out here.

Missy said...

I don't think I'll ever complain about the traffic and the trip home again. Actually I will, but I shouldn't. I'd hate to have to deal with that on the way home.

Glad you had your camera with you.

Kris said...

Great post, Jim. Weather like that sure brings out the worst in people (cutting in front of others, running lights, pulling into intersections that they KNOW they cannot exit during that light cycle, driving over private property... oh I've seen it all when I lived up there!). And where WERE the cops and plows? Officials say they were all out there, but obviously in that other dimension you mentioned. Wonderful pics!

Bottom line I'm glad you got home safe and sound and still (obviously) in good humor.

debsgarden said...

If that happens here, everyone shuts down and goes on holiday for about a week. There are no snow plows, but we do have some dump trucks with sand. Also, no one knows how to drive in stuff like that so it would be dangerous to get out, even if we could. Glad you got home safely!

Kyna said...

What an awesome post! LOL

I"m stealing "eat your uncles’ leg kind of snow" from you. That one's too good to forget.

There was some crazy snow where I'm from in Canada the last few days. Worse than usual I hear. One of my friends on Facebook posted a pic of a cop car on its side in the ditch covered in snow. That's when you know it's bad!

Glad to hear you're perfectly ok with your male attributes. Can't stand it when dudes use their vehicles as weapons.