Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dear Alex :: Driving with Tobbit in the Snow (THE DRIVE OF DEATH!)

Dear Alex,

Yesterday I got my driver's license.
Today I drove around 200 miles.


I'm not sure where to start, with the drive up to Canada or with my final drive from the ferry terminal up to L'Abri - the DRIVE OF DEATH! which left me shaking for at least 30 minutes after I finished.

Fresh on my mind is the final drive of the day, so I'll start there.

Getting to L'abri went just fine. It was a whole day on the road (more on that later) and everything was beautiful. Ian joined me for the ride up and spent some time at L'Abri with us. At the end, it was time to get him to the ferry so he could get to the mainland.

Mid-meeting, at L'abri, it started to snow. While snow is generally something I celebrate, in this case, knowing I would have to drive, I wasn't too keen on it. They said it wouldn't be bad - that it wouldn't stick, but things were different on the road.

First came the steep hill that's closed off most of the time because it's too steep. We made it down fine, my car seemed to go extra slow, so I was grateful. At the bottom of the hill, though, I got pretty worried.

Really worried.

And I really, REALLY, wanted Ian to just hitchhike. This wasn't because of time or because I was lazy. I was genuinely scared of driving. I wish I had listened to my instincts and told him that I valued our safety over his comfort.

But he gave me a bad time, telling me how sick he had been feeling, so I went ahead with it. Ian had been getting over being sick and was feeling pretty miserable. I`m really grateful he came with me even after how off he was feeling. Still, I was wanting him to hitchhike into town. It's an easy trip and a guaranteed success. I've never been let down. But he didn't want to get in a car with a new person or... I don't know.

So I drove him.
And it was scary.

The snowflakes were thick and I could barely see the road. I'd only drive at night two other times and only one was in the rain. Now I was going around bends and turns with limited mobility. I did not like it at all. I hated not being able to see. There are no street lights.

We got the terminal fine and I dropped him off. As we were turning around in the parking lot, I realized that there was an odd smell - my emergency break had been on the entire time. Oi. Not good. Not good.

Dropped him off.
Headed back.

This would be the hard part. Tobbit can sometimes barely make it up hills in the rain, let alone snow. I'd never tried him in the snow before.

Turns out it's not great.
Turns out going up hills without chains is not great.

The visibility continued to get worse as the flakes got larger. There would be unexpected turns and I could barely see the road. I spent the time praying out loud.

Then came the big hill. The snow was piling up on the road and Tobbit could barely make it up the first stretch. Then I got disoriented and ended up on the wrong road. I wasn't sure of where I was and already stressed out to the max. I breathed a few times, prayed, and started to turn around.

It was a narrow road with a ditch on each side. If I went forward too fast or backed up too far, I would be in a snowy ditch far from home in the dark without a cellphone. I slowly maneuvered myself around, prepping for the last stretch.

Even in first, Tobbit barely moved an inch as I revved the engine.

Slowly, so slowly, he moved up in first gear. Nothing could speed him up and I was so, so certain he was going to quit. The RPM's got up high and roared as we inched up the mountain. Turning my wheels did absolutely no good. I had no control.

It was part way up that I decided to turn on my hazard lights and make it my mission to not slide off the road.

Somehow, somehow, we made it to the crest of the hill. I'm not entirely sure how, but I got there. You have to imagine pressing the pedal down and only moving 10% of the time and, each time you move forward, it's a few centimeters.

Then came the down hill slope.

For all that upwards, I had to go down a bit. Steep down. The kind of steep you don't want to do in a little truck that you just learned how to drive.

I slowly, slowly eased him down the hill, still in first, hoping I wouldn't make the quick turn to the left that I knew was coming up. I feared turning left and sliding sideways with absolutely no control.

Once again, things worked out. Tobbit slid - the breaks did little good - but I made that turn and then powered myself up the hill. I knew it wasn't a good idea to go fast, since there are a lot of turns, but it was the only way I would make it.

A few more hills, each time barely making it, and I was back at L'abri.

I'm grateful Ian came but, honestly, I'm pretty peeved that he obliged me to go through that. I should have gone with my gut feeling.

When I turned off Tobbit, I couldn't stop shaking and crying. I made my way back to the Cedar House, having it pretty together, but broke down again. Luckily, they were all really kind and let me talk myself down.

Great first day out on the road, eh?

I think I'll write about my first road trip in another letter. This seems to be enough for now.



1 comment:

  1. Wow! Way to go, Margaret. Glad you stayed safe!


Your words make me grin.

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