I have said this many a time but for the sake of this post I will say it again: we live in no-man’s land. We live 40 min. from the little city (I never know what to call it. It is bigger than a town but it is smaller than a city.) To get to this little city you need to travel on 20 min. of grid road (the prairie name for gravel road; well, oft traveled gravel road) and 20 min. of highway (the TransCanada Highway to be exact.) The trick of traveling this distance is that the weather changes quite a few times during this distance. You never know what to expect, especially in the winter, when you set out on your trip. There have been many times I have called people to cancel our plans/visit due to the weather and I get words of mocking because everything is hunky dory where they live. I have been given the reputation for being a driver of chicken proportions because I will not drive in nasty weather. Well, at least I am still alive.
Last night was worship team practice. I left a bit early, about 7:00, so that I could get some groceries. When I left everything was clear and calm. It had become quite a bit chillier since that afternoon but that was the extent of any kind of weather note. I got to the highway and,again, everything is fine. I travel about 5 min. down the TransCanada and little wisps of fog curl in front of the truck. Soon thereafter I am met with heavy patches of fog. These patches of fog take away any hope of visibility. I keep telling myself that these are just patches but that tense feeling that I know all too well during the winter settles itself in my chest. Fog on the highway, even visibility-snatching fog, isn’t that big of a deal. You always have the white road lines and the lights from other cars to help you keep your path. Fog on the grid road, though, is a whole other story.
I decide that I am going to just pick up my music and go right back home before the fog gets too thick. True to form, though, ten minutes from the little city and the fog evaporates. It is clear as clear can be. I know that no one will believe that the weather is nasty. I know that I will be setting myself up for a time of mocking so I keep quiet and stay for the entire practise with that intense fear accompanying every note I sing.
It is now 9:00 when I leave the little city. Everything is just fine. Yes, there is fog but not all encompassing like it was on the trip in. It is just soupy. Soupy is no big deal.
I turn off of the highway onto the grid/gravel road, cross the railway tracks, move on up the little hill, start to go down the little hill and then, KERBLAM! I am sucked into heavy, vision-stealing fog. I cannot see anything. I know that I am on the road but I don’t know if I am on the left or right hand side of that road. I cannot see any yard lights. I cannot see anything. I slow way down and limp along on my travels, praying heavily as I go. Ten minutes into this fog and I have no idea where I am. Any markers that I could use to tell where I was on the road, like yard lights, cross-sections of roads, going up or down hills are all sucked in by the fog. It’s just me and Celine Dion on this crazy stretch of road. I feel like I am in The Twilight Zone.
What seems like forever I am finally able to see, about two yards away from the truck, something red. I slow down and see ghostly red letters that spell out ‘OLE.’ A few years ago, our neighbour put that sign up to celebrate her husband’s birthday and forgot to take it down. Seeing those letters, I blessed that woman’s forgetfulness because that was my sign to turn onto our road. I missed our driveway but I didn’t get too far down the road before I realized my mistake and was able to back up safely.
As I got out of the truck and was met with a crazy level of relief, I realized that my neck was sore and stiff with the tension of that drive. My hands were both numb from grasping the steering wheel as if my life depended on it (it kind of did.) I was so happy to get inside and tell my kids of yet another harrowing escapade of traveling on the prairie grid roads.
And then I wonder when am I going to trust my instincts about weather and winter driving and stop caring about the mocking of others?