December 1, 2006 is a historic day for me. I completed the longest solo drive of my life. I was in Maine when I started hearing reports of a nasty winter storm hitting the midwest and that it was heading east. Not wanting to get stranded and knowing part of my trip would take me through Buffalo (a winter-weather death trap), I decided to start back a bit early. My plan was to drive until I was either too tired or conditions were too unsafe. Here's a play-by-play:
6:30 AM- Depart Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Conditions: Overcast, gusty and drizzly. Head south thru a tiny chunk of New Hampshire and into Massachusetts to link up with I-90. I am listening to a bunch of local talk radio. I reach New York state and stop for gas and food (a rest stop soft pretzel with day-glo orange cheeze dipping sauce, a Snickers Cruncher candy bar, and a bottle of Pink Lemonade Snapple. This will be the only food I consume during the trip.) By now I am listening to Rush Limbaugh, something I never do. He's so cute, isn't he, what with all his lying and bluster?
2:00 PM- I am about a half hour outside Buffalo when the sky turns pitch black, but no rain yet. Just beyond that, the sky lightened. That's when the buckets of rain started. I was praying no one was stopped in front of me, because I couldn't see jack shit. That lasted only a short while. The entire trip I fought a headwind of at least 30 MPH. I was nearing the point where I was to cross into Ontario to shorten my trip. The border crossing is right next to Niagara Falls. Part of me wanted to press on, but I knew I would kick myself if I was there and didn't stop to look at the fucking falls. So I did. Now, if any of you are planning a trip to Niagara and are wanting to avoid crowds, the beginning of December is opportune. I was the only dumb-ass there.
4:00 PM- I cross into Canada without incident. For some reason, I always feel more at ease when I'm in Canada. I am now listening to Canadian political talk radio, which is a trip. They're so damn polite to each other! No yelling or calling each other idiots. They were talking a lot about US politics, too, and had much better insight than most Americans. I make a bad turn and go a little out of my way, but I'm still awake and alert and have a sense that I might just make it all the way.
8:00 PM- Reach Sarnia and cross back into the US at Port Huron. I am now about 4 hours from home on a normal day. The weather is still OK. No rain, but still gusty.
10:00 PM- Reach West Branch, MI and notice cars ahead are slowing down. Ice. Two of my wheels are on road, two are on a sheet of ice. I find a car that is going what I consider a safe speed and keep pace with them (40 MPH). Snow starts around Grayling, MI. The last thing I want at this point is to end up in a ditch and have to wait for someone to pull me out.
12:30 PM- I reach Gaylord, MI where I get of the interstate. Snow is heavy now, but the roads are OK and must've been plowed recently. I could at least see tire ruts.
12:45 PM- Right by the entrance to Boyne Mountain where I ski patrol, from out of nowhere there are two large deer RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. The roads are snow-covered at this point and I had a split second to react. By some divine intervention I was able to thread the needle and missed the one on the right and bumped the one on the left without killing him. I can't find any damage. The rest of the trip I drove 25 MPH.
1:30 PM- I arrive home, wired as hell, and stay up for another two hours to unwind and give the cat some much needed attention. Total driving time, including stops=19 hours. I'm insane.