Saturday, February 13, 2010

Birthday Adventures

3. Just because you can drive on snow and ice does not mean we can. Stay home the two days of the year it snows.

21.If there is the prediction of the slightest chance of even the most minuscule accumulation of snow, your presence is required at the local grocery store. It does not matter if you need anything from the store, it is just something you're supposed to do.

24.Florida is not considered a Southern state. There are far more Yankees than Southerners living there.

from Rules for Yankees

I'll get to those rules up there in a minute.

Yesterday was my 45th birthday. The Husband is taking a high-level art course this semester (which is driving him crazy in a semi-bad way), and as part of his requirements, he needed to go to the DaVinci exhibit at the High Museum in Atlanta. I'm very fond of museums (especially museum bookstores), so we decided to make a day of it to include dinner, a trip to my favorite Borders store, an a meet up with a very good friend who lives in Atlanta. As always, we checked the weather forecast, and the prediction was for snow.

Eh, this is The South. How much snow can there be? And, really, I'd already driven through a Southern Blizzard, and The Husband lived where it snowed for many years. What could happen? So, we drove down. We'd park near the Lenox mall, where there was a Marta station, take the train to the Museum, which is right on the line, and not worry about parking.

It started to snow when we pulled into parking lot. Snow is still enough of a novelty to me that I was excited. We took the train to the museum. It was really coming down then. I admit to a little surprise. "Atlanta" and "snow" are not two words I readily put into the same sentence. Still, aside from being a little slippery, the snow didn't bother me.

The Museum has a re-creation of the Sforza Horse in the front courtyard. While we had a permit to take pictures in the museum, the permit doesn't allow me to post any photos taken of exhibition artwork inside. I enjoyed it, though, and I'm looking forward to visiting for future exhibits.

When we got ready to leave, it still snowed. Yes, just a little more. Still, it wasn't significant. We took the train north and admired the snow covered landscape. Snow does make everything look magical. The only real negative was walking back to the car. We faced the wind, and the snow pelted us pretty solidly. Also -- COLD! Although, really, not as cold as it could have been.

So, we drove to the mall for some shopping, then to Borders to meet up with our friend and to let me spend my birthday money (on books, of course). It still snowed as we caravaned up to a little restaurant and spent a few lovely hours eating marvelous food. I had the best hot chocolate known to humankind. They coated the inside of the (large) cup with Nutella before pouring in the hot chocolate.

We said our goodbyes a bit after 10 pm. The snow had stopped and the sky cleared, so we expected an easy enough ride home. It's roughly a 2 hour drive between Clemson and Atlanta, so we'd be home by midnight. Just right for a Friday. We had audio books, full tummies and were satisfied with our day. We hopped onto Interstate 85 and drove out of Atlanta.

Now, here's where those rules I listed at the top come into play. About 30 minute into our drive, all traffic stopped. Well, we figured, it was entirely possible someone who didn't know how to drive when there might be ice on the road had slid into the ditch. Oh, well. Sad, but it happens. We waited with everyone else . No one could see the accident -- the back up was considerable. After about an hour with no sign of emergency vehicles and only a few movements in the lanes, we noticed people getting out of their cars and walking around. Smart phones being what they are, The Husband used his to search for more information. Ah, we learned, there had been a fairly bad accident, and it would be a while before it was cleared. Oh well. We listened to our audio book.

About midnight, we really wondered what was going on. We both had trouble staying awake, and kept nodding off. We saw some emergency vehicles, lights flashing, going up the other side of the road, but not much other traffic. More online searching. Oh, the accident was quite severe and would be cleared aroun 1:30. At 1:45 we checked again. No, now they said 2:30. A.M. Georgia Highway Patrol cars went up the emergency lane. A truck with a snow plow and a load of sand went by. Other people, tired of waiting, had also gone up that lane. Then traffic suddenly started moving, but oddly. Then we heard the loudspeakers.

The highway was closed.

And that's ALL we heard. Nothing else posted on the online sites, no other information from the patrolmen. We were funneled toward an exit ramp, but once there, we were held again. No one moved. Beyond the patrol cars, we saw long lines of mostly semis filling the road. Semis lined the grass along the ramp -- probably truckers who'd decided to get some sleep.

We got off the highway at about 4:30 am. The Husband did a little GPS magic on his cell phone and we found a route we hoped would take us around the closed area. Roads were a little icy, so we drove slowly on various 2 lane Georgia secondary and tertiary highways. A little after 5, we found an open gas station/convenience store, refilled the car's tank, used the bathroom, and bought some snacks and caffeine. We were still about an hour from home.

So, we watched the sun rise as we drove. As we got near home and saw all the snow, and since we were awake anyway, we decided to stop by the Botanical Gardens to get some pictures.
We finally got home around 8 am, fed the cats, and collapsed into bed until around 1 in the afternoon. We still have no idea what manner of decision making took place last night. We made it through on the secondary roads, being careful but not crazy careful, with one tiny slip that didn't even slow us (very much like driving in the rain). We spent several hours insulting and cursing at the unseeing GA officials who neither gave any information nor had any plan for getting people off the highway, nor were apparently equipped with sand or salt. Sand, I've noticed, does not spoil. No, it was much easier to keep people stuck in their cars in 20 degree weather, running out of gas and peeing on the median without even the courtesy of updating the recorded information on their phone number or a posting to their website. Apparently not enough people made it to the grocery store.

Oh, I'm a Florida girl, so I'm not REALLY a Southerner. I can also -- within limits -- drive through snow and on ice.

However, it was an interesting birthday.


the queen said...

I had my one experience driving in the snow WITHOUT snow tires when we first bought the Fit. I can drive in snow, but you have to give me the right tires, which I imagine no one in Atlanta buys. Scary. Still, that sounds like an adventure. Glad you had an audiobook.

Jay said...

All weather radials work just fine for moderate slown (under 6"). They work extremely well on plowed roads.

I've never bothered with snow tires, but then again I only lived where we usually only got 6"-8" of snow in a shot... 2-3 times a winter. I'm sure if we move further north than Virginia... or if we live in a mountainous portion... we'll need snow tire. I do not look forward to that... the expense of tires on our vehicles is already horribly high.

Scott said...

Happy Birthday, Sherri.

I haven't seen snow tires in years. We don't really need them in southern Virginia most of the time. It typically doesn't snow that much here, but this winter it's snowed quite a bit. Hell, it's supposed to snow again tonight.

Hot chocolate with Nuetella spread on the inside of the cup? Don't you realize that I'm not going to be able to think about anything else for the rest of the day?

Severina said...

Don't tease me with that Nutella jazz. And it should be coffee with Nutella.

So didn't Atlanta only get like 4" of the stuff? I was in Philly for work during that last blizzard and wound up in the middle of like 15" on top of the 28" already piled up. Great fun sliding around in a cab.

Sherri said...

Sev, it could totally work with coffee.