Now, saying all this I got off lucky compared to the journey home that Gregg and many others had to deal with. The snow started falling at about four in the afternoon. He left work at 4.30 p.m. and didn't arrive home until 1.45 a.m., a journey of nine hours and one that would normally have taken maybe 30 minutes, an hour in rush-hour at the most. It is a distance of about 13 miles.
You may have heard about it in the news. We are blessed with a ton of traffic around here and rush-hour can be pretty bad at the best of times, at the worst a positive nightmare. There were so many vehicles on the roads that the snowplows couldn't get through to plow or lay down the salt. I read that the new technology in the metro buses didn't help because they are designed to shut the engine off when the bus starts sliding. People were abandoning their cars in the middle of the freeway either getting stuck or finally running out of gas. Gregg passed dozens of them. I also heard that a tree fell on a truck and while the firefighters were cutting the poor man out, more trees were falling around them. There were good Samaritans everywhere and a lot of people helped where they could, giving rides to those they found walking on the freeway with the snow still falling.
Gregg had his cell phone and called me on the hour. At one point he decided to get off the road and spent two hours in McDonalds. The place was packed with 50 people in line. His aim was to wait for the traffic to die down and after chatting to three other customers they all decided to get back to it at around at 9.30 p.m. Nothing had changed, in fact things had gotten a lot worse. His battery on the cell was running low and after one last call at around midnight, he made the last part of the journey home.
All night I saw cars slowly trickling into the neighborhood and this was still going on after midnight. I kept hoping that one of those cars would be Gregg. I saw another set of headlights making the turn off the main road and watched it get stuck as the wheels started to spin in the snow and ice. My first thought was poor guy, getting so close to home and getting stuck within looking distance of his own front door. My second thought was I wonder if that's Gregg. By this time it was 1.15 in the morning.
I watched for a few minutes, saw a darkened figure get out and under the street light I recognized someone familiar. It was Gregg. He eventually managed to get around the corner but got stuck at an angle across the road right in front of our house. He got the snow shovel out and I went down to see if I could help. I even took my exercise mat down thinking he could put it under the wheels, but he told me it was so flimsy that it would probably get stuck around the tire. I was so glad to see Gregg that I had thrown a coat over my pj's, and had a pair of pretty flimsy shoes on and had rushed out of the house without thinking too much about it. I didn't even feel the snow overflowing into my mules and it was bitingly cold. After about 15 minutes he was able to park next to the curb. Just as we walked through the door the electricity went out again. It had returned after being off for about three hours that evening and came on half an hour before, though the lights had been fluttering. It stayed off until around 2.30 p.m. the following day. Neither of us cared, Gregg was just glad to be back under his own roof after that journey and I was glad to see him, as I was beginning to think he wouldn't be able to get home that night. I know some had to sleep in their cars. We just piled more blankets onto the bed and gave a thought to all those homeless folks in DC and elsewhere, hoping that they had gotten some warm shelter for the night. It would be a terrible night to be outdoors.
This was a wet heavy snow, great for making snowmen but not so great when you are driving home, not so great because the tree limbs fall down and break the power lines, and God forbid those trees can fall. So to you all out there stay safe on those roads okay, and remember to check those flashlights every now and again? When I have a quiet day I am going to clear out one of our cupboards and stock it with emergency supplies. We may not have another storm for a long time and that's the problem. When we do get one it kind of takes you by surprise.
The next day the sun was shining and there were pretty blue skies. Across the street we noticed that our neighbor's tree had lost some of it's branches and were laying on the ground.