Saturday, November 28, 2009

An Icy Drive

I had a pretty rough night, full of bad dreams.

Mostly dreams having to do with icy roads and sliding vehicles and terrible accidents.

At least I don't have to wonder why those were muddled around in my subconsious. The five hours I spent in a vehicle last night watching sliding vehicles, near misses, and a few accidents quite nicely explains that.

I will not be driving anywhere today unless it is absolutely necessary.

We had freezing rain yesterday that coated the roads, and then froze, turning roads into skating rinks, making hills impassable, and generally creating traffic chaos.

I've never liked driving to begin with. I do it because, well, it's convenient, and Calgary's public transit system is so very not.

I got my "learner's license" at 16. (Two years later than you're first legally allowed to obtain it.) I only finally got a full fledged license days before my twenty first birthday, motivated simply by the fact that the learners was going to expire and I didn't want to pay to renew it, and then pay again a short time later for a new license.

My new license was what Alberta calls a "graduated" license. I held that for a full five years, until this past summer, just days before my 26th birthday, where I scheduled a second road test to get rid of the conditions. Again, the motivation was simply that my license was going to expire, and I figured it was as good a time as any to take the test, rather than paying to renew a license and then paying several months later to upgrade it.

Winter driving is definitely my least favorite, and often leaves me shaky. Though I've seen terrible roads, I've not, in the years I've been driving, seen roads as icy as they were last night.

It doesn't help that my first accident ever happened because of winter road conditions. Or, that, months later, when I was finally able to get behind the wheel without feeling a surge of panic, I was driving home from a friend's rural home, hit some black ice at a notorious location on a major highway, and did a 360 degree spin in my rental car, starting in the right lane of traffic, and ending just barely on the road on the left shoulder. It was only by the grace of God that I wasn't hit by oncoming traffic. I drove for two more hours to get home that night, through terrible conditions. And then, last winter, after another heavy snowfall, I again hit some black ice on a major city road, and slid quite nicely into a guard rail, banging up the front end of my car, but again, thankfully, not getting hurt, or hitting any other vehicles.

So five hours (even if I was only the driver for two) on severely icy roads last night wasn't that helpful.

We've had a mild winter so far, and budgetary concerns have meant that I delayed having my winter tires put on. They're going on on Monday (only two days from now!), along with a few other repairs I've been waiting to have done. So I was driving on old, slightly bald summer tires on the iciest road conditions I've ever seen for two hours last night.

And, since Calgary doesn't salt, plow, or sand residential roads, and I live at the top of a hill, I won't be going anywhere by car until we have a bit of a thaw (predicted for tomorrow). My dad managed to get my car from the spot I'd temporarily abandoned it last night, to a safe parking spot in front of my house, and it is going to stay there until the roads thaw. I'll take transit to the one or two places it is absolutely necessary for me to go today. Because anything is better than getting behind the wheel again on those roads. I relived them all through the night, I have no desire to relive them in my waking reality today.