The final part of our journey home, yesterday, was through one of the worst storms I’ve ever been in.
I checked the weather up until we left, and then Tom sent us daily updates. He wrote, the morning of the storm, that the weather looked good. So off we went, and it was good until we got towards Lansing, Michigan. It was lightly snowing; no big deal, but once we were past Lansing, it really started snowing.
We were on I-69 going east towards Flint, but we never got to see Flint because the visibility had deteriorated so much in the time it took us to get there. By the time I saw the third vehicle in a ditch, I realized how bad the road conditions were. I slowed down and started to follow a line of traffic. At one point, I could only see three cars ahead. Pretty scary. Why didn’t I pull off the highway, you may ask? We saw several vehicles that had come off the On and Off ramps, so it wasn’t looking like the brightest idea.
Somewhere around Flint, there was a major collision on the west bound side of the highway. Police had the road closed as they tried to clean up the mess. We were still passing more cars that had gone off the road. I kept praying that the vehicle I was so blindly following, wouldn’t go off the road, because I would likely have followed it not seeing where it was going.
After an hour and a half, we made it to the border, which was remarkably quiet. The snow seemed a little lighter, so I was hopeful we were through the worst. In London, I managed to get hold of Tom by phone, and he said the weather was clear in Burlington, some two hours away.
The 401 wasn’t great, but it was better than I-69. I turned, slowly, onto the 403. So far the only stretch of road that had seen a salt truck was the 88 km stretch of the 402 between Sarnia and London. The 403 started off okay, but then it also deteriorated. I thought to myself, ‘I’m too tired for this’ but realized that we were now in a spot with no exits.
I got into a line of slow moving cars, again; watched the vehicles in the ditches, again, but this time, ice started building up on my windshield wipers. Not a bit; a lot. I ended up with over 1 inch thick blocks of ice underneath the wiper blades. All I was doing was dragging ice across the windshield. On the westbound side of the highway a pick-up truck with a trailer must have gone into a skid. Several cars had plowed into it as it turned sideways and blocked the highway. Becky and I drove past miles and miles of stopped vehicles.
The traffic must have been there a long time already as people were standing in groups, on the highway, chatting. I saw another three vehicles off the road in the centre median. I saw the resignation on the face of one man stuck in-between the east and west bound lanes of the 403 in his pick-up truck. He must have realized that there would be no tow trucks coming for him until the road was re-opened. Even then, how long would it be before a tow truck was available to pull him out.
We made it to Brantford and I pulled off the highway. I needed to get the ice off the wiper blades and I needed a break. The front of the van was covered an inch thick in ice. I tried to pull it off, but it was too hard. I did manage to clear the wiper blades. With a clear windshield we set off for the final push home. We finally pulled in around 5:30 p.m. We had been on the road for eleven hours for a trip that should have taken less than eight. I was exhausted. My shoulders hurt, my knuckles were white, and my eyes ached, but I knew we were lucky. I kept thinking about all the hundreds of people that had been stranded along the way, and the ones that had been involved in accidents, and I just hoped that they all made it to their homes, safely.