Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

A Near Miss

With the snow having stopped falling for a while and even some sun coming out, melting snow on the tree that overlooks the trailer, and with more snow forecast through Christmas, we decided that we would take a shot at going in to Salem to fill up the propane bottles and get groceries. Had we known what was ahead of us, we might have decided to stay home.

Conditions weren't too bad at Mehama, but got steadily worse as we approached Salem. Fog began to form, and the road, while mostly clear, had icy patches. Oregon 22 coming into Salem is a freeway with an open median, and it approaches Salem by coming down a medium-steep hill. As we headed down that hill, a pickup truck powering up the hill tried to change lanes, lost control, and came careening across the snow-covered median right toward us. It happened so quickly there was no time to react, which turned out to be the best for us. The pickup missed us by centimeters, kept sliding across both oncoming lanes, and crashed sideways into the barrier on our side of the road behind us. Lisa heard the loud crash, although I was too distracted. At no time did she lose control of the Vanagon, but she was badly frightened, of course. A half-second earlier and he would have plowed right into us!

I-5 was at a near standstill, and it took a long time to go the five miles up to the exit we needed to get to the propane place. Once there, filling the two 7-gallon bottles was routine. Lisa was nearly babbling with relief at having cheated death, and I don't blame her a bit. Having the two full propane bottles in the back of the van also helped us a little with the handling as we made our way back the way we came, although we did get hung up in the unplowed two-way left-turn lane at one point thanks to an impatient driver who pressured Lisa into turning too soon. We got out of the jam okay, but it was a messy situation for a while.

After a stop to buy yet another set of wiper blades -- the ones we bought a few days ago are junk and wouldn't clear the windshield properly -- we headed to Winco Foods for our over-the-holiday groceries. The place was a madhouse. Besides the rush you'd expect into a holiday, there was the fact that we weren't the only people who had been stuck inside for two days and needed to stock up. As soon as we could, we headed back up the hill east out of Salem.

Because I wasn't able to leave Mehama as early as I wanted this afternoon -- a late work commitment delayed me -- it was well after dark by the time we headed homeward. The fog was much heavier now, and it was "freezing fog," something I've heard of but never seen before. Highway 22 was very icy, and Lisa was getting more and more nervous as she felt the Vanagon slip. She cut speed for safety, which didn't please the bozo behind us who was "helpfully" running his high-beams to increase his visibility (at the expense of blinding us and oncoming traffic). Not that Mr. Bright Lights was going to risk changing lanes to pass us, though.

We had a couple of stops planned in Stayton as well, but made only one of them, where I bought a new pair of gloves. The ones I have are warm as long as they don't get wet, and with what I've been doing around here, they're getting very wet. The new ones are much more waterproof -- good for working in the snow.

Lisa sent me back over to her father's house, where I'd left a hard drive to be cloned for her. Unfortunately, the clone failed for reasons unclear -- the destination hard drive may have defective sectors on it. I'll try one of the other spare drives I have here and let it run overnight, as drive clones take a while. Lisa also gave me the chip with the photos she's taken the past couple of days, and I'll post them later.
Tags: lisa, weather

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