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Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

All I can say is "wow"...

I showed photos of the snow yesterday. I was very lucky and worked from home. So, all I saw was the pretty snow and winter wonderland in my yard, albeit the birds were a little frantic in their feeding.

Today I checked for bus winter storm alerts and watched the local news to make sure it was safe to come into the office. Since I can do everything from home--it is crazy to waste a lot of time getting downtown in bad weather. All looked okay even if my street looked pretty bad. I knew there were few hills to the park&ride so it shouldn't be bad. And the bus would do the rest of the driving from there.

When I got to the P&R, I nearly couldn't get into the parking lot due to an incline but finally managed. Lots of cars there with snow on them. I made note since it is a holiday week and usually there are few cars there overnight. Apparently these were cars from overnight--that were parked there yesterday and abandoned due to the storm.

I put a link on my blurb about "the worst traffic in 20 years" video--that was a shock when I watched it last night. Being out of it and not watching any news I didn't realize how bad the commute had been. Talking to a few riders at the bus-stop, I discovered it was a nightmare. One guy told me the bus basically dumped all the riders roughly 1 1/2 miles from the P&R due to stalled traffic blocking the street. Apparently people were abandoning cars due to running out of gas or simply being unable to move them on the icy streets. I have no idea what people might have done who were incapable of walking 1 1/2 miles to get to their cars. Amazing.

Another story from two women who are regulars. Apparently they left downtown around 3:30 (some businesses were even letting folks go home early due to the storm). They spent over 6 hours on the bus getting to their P&R (my old one). The freeway was a parking lot and all the back streets were full of cars unable to move. They told me stories about the driver singing to them to keep them entertained for 6 hours. He also was considerate enough to stop twice to allow them a bathroom break. One place was an Audi dealership. The first couple of people asked if they could use the facilities. After that the rest just came in and went. I guess the dealership was pretty good about it--one woman has a Jag and got a card to have her car serviced there so maybe they got some business. I think the other location was a service station so it wasn't as notable to ask. The driver told some riders he is retiring this week--I'll bet yesterday cinched that decision!!

I can't even imagine what six hours on a very crowded (apparently they had 2-3 busloads on the bus since several buses cancelled) bus must be like. Still--the riders were pretty good natured about it. They left downtown at 3:30 and got home at 9:30 or 10 PM. Amazing.

The funniest story that came out of this bus-ride was a rider who got on at the last stop before the bus left the city. They said he got on the bus and complained about it being 3 minutes early (an early bus is a bus that might be missed). These folks had been waiting and sitting on the bus for a long time. Vicki, the one telling me the story, said everyone on the bus busted out laughing that he was upset about it being early.

I also heard stories of people driving back to Portland from Salem (roughly 40 miles). It took over 5 hours. Supposedly there was a 24-mile gridlock. Some folks ran out of gas--others just abandoned cars that couldn't move. As I have said before, Portland isn't set up to manage snow and bad roads like MN. Snow generally stops things but yesterday's storm was a surprise. They had forecast some snow but most were saying a dusting of one inch. Most areas got 3-5 inches. I guess it could have been worse. If it hadn't been a holiday week there would have probably been even more traffic on the streets.

I'm very grateful I worked from home yesterday and missed it all. Having to walk a mile and one half in wet snow in shoes not meant for slush and dealing with traffic or a 6-hour bus ride certainly doesn't sound like much fun. I will give all those riders credit for taking it in stride. Maybe the holiday spirit is still in effect. Or it is simply the easy way of most Portlanders.

There's no place like home!
!   Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Wow Linda, glad you stayed home!!!
Jules   Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Wasn't there an issue with one bus ride you had that the driver couldn't make it up a particular hill and had a go at it several times before gaining enough momentum to do it? You had a pretty horrifying bus ride one day. . .was that last year's snow?

I can't imagine that sort of commute like yesterday. In LR once we had an instance of snow and a bad commute. . . but 6 hours and 24-mile gridlock? Holy cow!!
Richie & Ashley   Wednesday, December 30, 2009
We are getting snow piled on us here. However I live in a small community. lol I have no clue how bad the roads are in the "big" cities. It is times and stories like these that I am glad I don't have to commute to work and that my husband takes the week between Christmas and New year's off. Normally he travels from central IL all the way to Quad Cities, over to Davenport IA, then back down into southern missouri, northern KY and western IN. VERY happy to know he is safe and at home.
runt   Wednesday, December 30, 2009
We have had two very unusual winters in a row. Last year was the year of the bizarre bus ride where the driver didn't opt for chains and should have and we couldn't get up the hill and tried over and over. I should have gotten out and walked across the bridge and worked from home. I was maybe 1/8 of a mile from my old place if that far! But, it would have been a good 3 mile hike back to get my car since I'm not about to hike along the freeway the way people drive! LOL

MN had some traffic in winter due to poor road conditions but the roads were managed well. Here, the equipment just isn't there since we don't get it often. Ask my mom and sister--when they visited and it snowed people were giddy about it because it hadn't snowed for 4 years. I wouldn't have guessed the small amount of snow yesterday would have created such chaos but we have mountains and a big river that limit the number of back roads to get around problems. The freeway is grid-locked--you have one other way to get home. So, of course everyone goes over to that one back way and it gets gridlocked. I think the city got caught off-guard by the amount and it hit just when travel would be the heaviest and people don't know how to drive in snow. So, a lot of them ran out of gas while waiting or simply couldn't manage the icy conditions in the higher elevations of the city and had to abandon their car to get home. The 6 hour bus ride still staggers me. I've been on the bus during a bad commute and nothing even CLOSE to 6 hours. And a packed bus too--that would make me get out and go sit somewhere for a few hours rather than stay on that crowded bus for so many hours. :)
LGrant   Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Are you sure you don't want to come home? LOL
dannie   Thursday, December 31, 2009
Dannie, I am home. :)
LGrant   Thursday, December 31, 2009
Now you know what it would be like to live in Motown.
gigi   Friday, January 1, 2010
It's amazing what happens in other parts of the country when it snows. We are so fortunate here. We had between 12 and 14 inches of snow during 2-3 days at Christmas and our street was clear by 5:00 a.m. every morning and you could pretty much get anywhere on the freeways that you wanted to without very much delay. We are truly spoiled up here. They said they had over 800 snow removal vehicles out across the state an over 250 just here in the Twin Cities.
Carol   Saturday, January 2, 2010
After 17 years in MN it still amazes me to hear how the place shuts down or all of the problems with the road conditions but occasionally it is worth it when you actually get snow days unlike MN where that rarely happens. :)
LGrant   Saturday, January 2, 2010
Hee, hee, hee. One day to go before you're older than moi!!!
Her Wild K9s   Wednesday, January 6, 2010
You only have 11 months to catch up. :) My hair is still darker!! :)
LGrant   Wednesday, January 6, 2010
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