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Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Winter "Wonder"land

If you noticed, I waxed poetically (I love to use that phrase because my friends back in MN had never heard that before and thought I made it up) about our amazing and beautiful snowfall. I showed Christmas postcard images of the pretty trees and yard and birds in the brush. That was Sunday and Monday.

Today brought home all the things that make snow a nuisance and winter a pain (since I've made no secret I love winter--I can abuse it a little here).

Tomorrow is supposed to bring another storm. If the Oregon weather-people are as good as most weather-people about snow predictions--I shouldn't worry we will get anything. It's when they call for light snow or flurries that you race to the store to buy enough food for a month and make sure you know where the candles and flashlights are kept. We'll see about that part. Part of me wants it to snow buckets to discourage any more commuting!

The morning started innocently enough. I left in plenty of time. Had the car all brushed off. Trash at the street. Packages on the porch (remind me to tell you how much I love carrier pickup one day!). Car warmed and windows defrosted.

The streets were not good. Oregon is environmentally conscious and won't use chemicals barring emergency. The state doesn't like the damage to roads and cars either. Having had a car eaten gradually in MN, I can appreciate that idea and luckily we don't have enough snow or ice to argue the logic.

I took my time since there was little traction. I should have seen the writing on the wall and gone back home. No, I'm fine - the car is fine - no accidents. It was raw cold for here. Wind chills probably in the single digits. I know that isn't THAT cold but it's really cold for here. The wind was sharp and the bus was 15 mins. late.

We all piled aboard in gratitude for some warmth and lack of wind. One regular even took a local route bus worried that ours wouldn't make it and it showed up right behind the local. But, she was smart and got off at the stop up the street and smugly got on our express bus. I've wondered all day if she regretted that move.

We went around slowly. I expected a slow ride. As we went up a steep grade to go over the freeway to get to the access ramp, the light changed and the bus stopped. When the light changed again, we couldn't move. The bus was stuck on the hill. The driver tried a few times but no go. He suggested that everyone move to the back of the bus to add weight to the back-tires to help. Didn't help.

Two riders volunteered to get off and assist the driver in backing down the hill to get a running start. We did that, got our running start. Waited for the light to change so we wouldn't have to brake on the hill. Didn't help.

Again, the riders got off (these guys should have gotten a free ride!) and helped the driver back down. In the meantime we watched the next 2 buses in our line pass us (they had no problem!) heading downtown. People started making suggestions. Flag down one of the buses. Take us back to the park&ride to get a different bus. Quit doing this; quit doing that. Do this; do that. The poor guy must have wanted to scream SHUT UP! But, he doggedly kept trying. Again, we went backwards down the hill. Got our running start and the tires started spinning. In fact the tire on my side started burning and smoke wafted up and sucked into the backdoor--asphyxiating us. Didn't help.

Finally they decided to take us down the hill (again) to a nearby driveway to allow the bus to turn around and head back the way we had come to an alternative access to the freeway. What do they say? Fourth time is the charm? I felt we should have rallied and cheered when we hit the open and clear freeway but I think we had all lost our cheer and were more "bout time!" about it. Poor driver. He would have probably enjoyed the cheer!

It was a slow commute but at least no more slick hills. I'm not sure why the guy didn't have chains on the back but the guy next to me argued we are an express bus with mostly a freeway route and the garage probably thought they weren't needed but there are a lot of sidestreets to circumvent to the freeway.

Luckily the sidewalks were in better shape than the side streets. It was a cold walk both to and from the bus but I hoped the afternoon ride would be better and it was--traffic was heavy and slow but moving. When we finally got to the intersection beside the park&ride, I was amazed by ALL THE CARS. Hundreds of them clogging the freeway, the ramps, the streets. Light after light changed with no movement because of the condition of the street and the slowness of the cars. When we finally got to the park&ride, it took some time to get out on the street because of congestion and even more time to get through the intersections to get to the freeway and home.

I can't decide if I want a blizzard to keep me home or a sudden warm up to melt all this packed ice and snow that we have now. I keep thinking about the retailers and the cut into their sales (again). It has to impact them when all we want to do it run home--not to their store. Hopefully some folks will be more shopping determined and not affect the economics of the season too much more..

Brrrr-the main reason I don't miss Michigan.
dannie   Tuesday, December 16, 2008
LOL...it isn't supposed to be that way here! :)
LGrant   Tuesday, December 16, 2008
It sounds like you're living back in the midwest!!
Jules   Tuesday, December 16, 2008
LOL...I know, Jules! What's up with that. The only difference is they don't bother to clear the roads here as good as they did in the MW area!!
LGrant   Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I'm so sorry you had an icky day. Winter seems to be doing strange things across the county, not just Oregon. It has rained here for 3 days.

I'm just glad you are safe!!!!!!
Richie & Ashley   Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Oh my! What an adventure you had. I'm amazed that the City of Portland doesn't do a better job clearing the streets. I'd think it would be a liability issue. It did make for a great blog though! :)
Leslie   Wednesday, December 17, 2008
We just don't get that kind of weather, Leslie, so the city really doesn't have the means to deal with that mess. The city proper does pretty good. The sidewalks were all clear and the streets were mostly clear. It's the outlying areas and side streets that are neglected as they work to keep the main arteries clear for the heavier traffic.

I should write another blog about the Winter "Wander"land. Today, we suffered BECAUSE there was less snow. They did chain up the buses so our bus made the hill without a problem (again...should have been a rousing cheer raised!) but then we got to rattle to work on the freeway with the chains banging the cleared road---and keep to a low speed of 35 due to the chains.

This afternoon it was snowing again so the buses were chained up. We were required to take a back road - I guess to avoid disrupting traffic at our slow 35 on the freeway. The weird thing about it was the driver made some AWRKAWRKAWRK announcement that I never understood. Apparently he mentioned something about turning into a local bus for our ride and started stopping at bus-stops along the way, delivered folks to a transit center we never access, and took the LONGEST time to get home due to all that. The good news is the roads being more wet than icy allowed for less traffic so we moved relatively well if you ignore the fact that we stopped at all the bus stops and did a side-trip to let them all off. I've never seen that before. I will have to ask someone when I see them what the @#$@# that was all about. LOL
LGrant   Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I hope you had a good book on your ipod!
Leslie   Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Actually no. I was still using my CD player on the bus and the rechargeable batteries both gave out and I had nothing to do but read the signs on the side of the road as we went really slow. I could have gotten out and shopped and gotten back on a few times. LOL It could have been worse. I think I will retire the CD player and take the Shuffle from now on. At least I can charge it easily and not have to deal with tired batteries. Poor CD player--it's been a good friend. :)
LGrant   Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I can only imagine how angry all this mess made you! Even Richie commented, "Oh I bet she was peeved".
Richie & Ashley   Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Too tired to be peeved. I had another negative when I went to get my hair cut and my hairstylist forgot to call me and tell me she wasn't there. I took a deep breath and came home after taking my books to the book-drop. I relaxed, ate, then dug in and got all my wrapping and packing finished and set for pickup tomorrow. I can go to bed feeling I have it done other than dipping the candy for the mail carrier in the AM . LOL And I work from home so I get a couple of hours back tomorrow and no commute to cause me any grief. Win-win!!
LGrant   Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Sounds like it!!!! Richie went to bed. I'm thinking about baking but just can't committ. LOL
Richie & Ashley   Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Oh - this whole thing has not sounded like any fun at all
justmeg   Wednesday, December 17, 2008
It's been a little tiring, Meg, but we are warming up a little so that will help unless we get another big storm over the weekend. Unlike MN, we will warm up and melt most of it one of these days.
LGrant   Thursday, December 18, 2008
You have the patients of a Saint! I live as you know in the midwest,Iowa, and I hate to tell you what the weather is doing out here! We got 8 inches last night, already had ice and snow on the ground, and it won't go away till, spring,you know that from living here! We are expecting more today, uck! White out conditions, at least four to six more (we shall see), freezing rain, oh goody, and I work tonight,graveyard.
As you know people in the Midwest make fun of drivers from other places, that are skidding down the road, afraid to go out if there is an inch of snow on the ground.midwesterners all laugh. Well, let me say this, ummm - we go out in blizzards, can't even see the road,and if you call into work, they come and get you in a 4X4. That way everyone can slide to work, gasp as the vehicle fishtales, or ends up in the ditch. We spend the winter being hearty pioneer folks. You folks maybe get a little snow, enjoy dry roads, and nice weather most of the year. You even get to walk to your cars without sliding,and getting wet feet.
Maybe midwesterners should take a look at this situation, who should be laughing at who? OK, so maybe you guys get the last laugh.lol
Stay safe and be careful!!!
Sue   Friday, December 19, 2008
Sue, you nailed it. The biggest difference I can see here is the inability to deal with a sudden storm. In MN, we never even considered not going to work unless the snow was so high and impossible to shovel (like 20+ in.) that we couldn't get out. That happened once in 17 years. LOL The first winter I was in MN I was the only one who made it to the office on time. I gave them SO much grief about it. The little Southerner handling the MN winter driving better than the Minnesotans. LOL
LGrant   Friday, December 19, 2008
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