It wasn’t so bad in Omaha, just cold rain, and it stayed like that until I got to Lincoln. After that, though, the tall grass at the side of the road turned white, and the wind came up in huge gusts, blowing snow all over the road. As I continued toward Grand Island in the worsening weather, I counted at least three huge 18-wheelers in the ditch to my right, as well as some on the opposite roadway. There were at least two accidents at roadside. The bridges were extra slippery, and every time I saw a sign that warned of a slippery bridge, my heart beat faster and my stomach tensed up. I was going no more than 45 miles per hour on a road that normally supports 75 mph traffic. Before setting out on my trip, I had noted that York would be a good place to stop, with plenty of gas stations and restaurants. I was pleasantly surprised to find a Starbucks, as well. And several small hotels.
My friend who lives near Grand Island told me on the phone that visibility was near zero, and she had seen some cars rolled over on the side of the road. Bravely, she said she’d still meet me if I wanted to continue to Grand Island, but I was too scared to drive any farther, and told her to stay home.
I checked into a budget-style hotel before 9 am, and was invited to partake of the complementary breakfast while it was still being served. They had a room ready right away, so I brought in my bags. The parking spot I had chosen was the closest one, but completely iced over, so it was dangerous to be handling a bulky suitcase and a heavy bag with my computer in it, but I managed to get inside by hanging on to the side of the building. The place had free wi-fi, so I set up my computer and proceeded to spend the day online, as I usually do.
When I awoke from a long afternoon nap, I realized that the sky was brightening, and that the snow was winding down. The ice had completely melted. I briefly considered trying to get to Grand Island late, but decided against it. I heard later that the meeting I was headed for went past the advertised 8 p.m. closing time because the State Department staffers said they wanted to listen to all those who had braved the weather to come and give their testimony. At one point near the end of the meeting, someone blogged that no one had spoken in favor of the pipeline for several hours. That made me feel slightly better about not going, since there were obviously a great number of pipeline opponents at the meeting. Over 150 people testified. I’ll have to see if I can find a report on the meeting that tells how many people spoke in all. I did get to submit my comments to the State Department electronically, so the trip wasn’t totally wasted.
Today when I woke up, the sky was cloudless, as promised, and the roads were completely dry, so when I headed out on I-80, I was able to travel at the speed limit. I noticed that all the cars and trucks had been rescued from the ditches. We’ve had such a lot of tough weather lately in this part of the world, and it’s especially hard on the psyche to have not one, but two or three major snowstorms after the Vernal Equinox. Not that it’s unheard of, mind you. It’s just very hard to take. People get so depressed at winter’s end, especially when the skies are gray – or white. One of my friends up in the Twin Cities is so disgusted with winter that she bought a ticket to Mexico. Wish I could do that.
Today’s temperatures are still awfully cold, far below normal for this time of year, but the cloudless blue sky and bright sunshine are just the ticket after such awful weather. I’m sure the sunshine will go a long way toward brightening everyone’s spirits. Although I wasn’t able to do exactly as I had planned this trip, all’s well that ends well. I’m siting in a wi-fi hotspot in Sioux City, Iowa, and will shortly get back on the road. I should be back home by late afternoon, in plenty of time for a hair appointment at 6 p.m. My sister uses the same beautician, so she is meeting me there to have her hair colored. Then it will be on to a nice restaurant to celebrate her birthday one day early.
I’m so grateful for the bright sunshine. Life is good. 🙂