Howdy gang. Hot on the heels of my QEW nightmare a few weeks ago - Incident on QEW this past Friday
- I bring yet another driving nightmare to your living rooms / offices / etc etc.
Drove down to Secaucus, NJ, last Friday, left T.O. 10am, supposed to arrive about 6-7pm depending on traffic, it's about 8.5-9.0 hours. Secaucus is the last blip on the roadmap before you enter the Lincoln Tunnel and into Manhattan. Used to be able to see the World Trade Towers from the hotel room it's that close to NYC.
Anyways, uneventful through to Syracuse. Syracuse is my favourite mile marker because it's about half way - 4.0 hours - and a good place to stop and stretch and refill.
Syracuse to Albany is about 1.5-2.0 hours then you head south down into NJ. It was about halfway between Syrace and Albany that it started...
You know that dusting of snow you people in Southern Ontario got Friday afternoon? That dusting was the edge of a near white-out condition blizzard that grasped all of the eastern seaboard.
The first sign of trouble was a light snow that made the road white then wet then slushy then... all of a sudden, two women about 4-5 cars ahead of us decided to tangle. Somehow, one of them got turned around so they hit head-on and managed to bounce each off the roadway, conveniently ending up facing the wrong way on both sides of the highway albeit not blocking the road at all. How thoughtful of them. We continued once traffic started rolling.
A little while later and the visibility shot down to less than half a mile, then 1/8th of a mile, then, if you were lucky you could just see in front of the tractor trailer in front of you.
The road crews were out sanding and ploughing but they were leaving an inch of cover because freezing rain would have turned the roads into hockey rinks.
We kept thinking it'll be like the Wizard of Oz... you know, driving along and all of a sudden, clear, bright and colourful just like the movie changing from B&W to colour. Didn't happen.
While NY was ploughing the I90, everyone in NJ seemed to be asleep. Literally, there were few cars on the roads, and even fewer road crews to deal with it! The trickiest part was tackling the hills if you weren't going fast enough. But then you couldn't go too fast because it was just too dangerous.
Still snowing at 7pm, visibility was improving the but road conditions were the worst I have ever encountered. 3-4 inches of snow, unploughed, with heavy trucks making some tracks that would then make it nearly impossible to change lanes.
Then, it got real scary. We come up over this hill, just able to pass a tractor trailer and what do I see about 300 feet in front of me? A Ford Focus had spun out and was straddling the middle 2 of 4 lanes. One SUV passed him in the passing lane, a second just managed to get over to the passing lane and almost fishtails but clears his rear bumper. When I first saw these three I was thinking that if the SUVs stop, I'm going to hit all of them. Miraculously, I carefully glide over to the passing lane without jerking it and we just get passed him.
I remember the tractor trailer we just passed and check my passenger side mirror as we pass the car only to see him at a 45 degree angle going off the far right trying to get his trailer around.
I see the Focus' lights swing wildly around and think - he's been clipped.
To my amazement, he straightens up and gets up to speed with the tractor trailer unit barely 6 feet off his ass.
Nothing like seeing 45 feet of truck barrelling down you to get you to rethink your position in life. Or in his case, position on the highway.
We arrived in NJ at 9pm, 11 hours after leaving. Longest time in my history of driving to NJ and I do it annually.
The drive home was relatively uneventful so I'll stop now. Took us 8.5 hours.
I'm putting off long drives for a few months. When I go to Chicago in August I'll let you know how it goes. If it wasn't for all the photo gear and other crap I have to cart around, I'd fly. Apparently, statistically speaking, it's much safer!