Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wonderful Winter Driving

We got to Memphis and headed out to Chicago to pickup and head back to LA again!   Yiippeeee
Yesterday, we ran into that icky weather sitting in the middle of the country - up and back from Chicago.  Lucky for us it was mostly during our daylight driving hours and we just plodded through it.  Driving through a snow storm is really interesting.  What always strikes me first is how quiet it becomes.  Our truck is pretty quiet for these big trucks, but there is still quite a lot of road noise.  Even with the radio on, the driver's ear is always tuned to road sounds and engine sounds.  The snow eliminates the road sound completely.  And of course, the radio is off because you are concentrating so intently.  So, there is basically no sound.   The brightness is another striking thing about daytime snow storms.  There are special yellow glasses that we have seen, never thought we would need them . . . thought wrong!  Regular sun glasses work better than nothing, but there is still lots of bright white.  It really reflects from every surface and makes for tired eyes after a short while.
I always thought that driving through snow would be scary, but that isn't really the scary part.  Mostly, the fear is that it can become ice at any moment.  Now ICE is scary!  That slippery feeling really translates up through 18 tires and gets your full attention but fast.  We have 2 different mechanical helpers for traction.  
The truck (or "tractor" as it is called in the trucking world) has 2 axles on the rear and we can lock the differential into a way that puts power to both axles.  This really functions much like 4-wheel drive and is used in the same manner.  We have another button on the dash that is called "Traction Control"  I still haven't figured out what this one does and everyone I ask about it gives me vague answers about how it "controls the traction".  Well duh!  I really hope I don't get into a situation where I need that extra bit of traction control.
Driving through snow and even ice isn't so bad during the day and especially if you are not in the mountains.  Adding either darkness or steepness really raises the intensity level.  On our first run up the Pacific coast from LA to Seattle, we both got to experience the trifecta of STEEP/DARK/ICY.  Not fun . . .  really, really not fun.  In fact, we have pretty much decided to avoid that particular type of driving again.  Any 2  of the 3 are doable, but all 3 is pretty hard to deal with.  Luckily for us, we work for a company that does not force you to drive when you feel it is unsafe.  They are really good about accepting your word for it - no pressure at all that we have run into.  Of course, if we aren't rolling, we aren't making money - but we aren't much about the money.
So we are headed to Sunny California again.   Right now we are driving across New Mexico and Arizona.  Pretty blue sky with scattered clouds.  Forecast is for snow, but so far we haven't had any coming out of the sky.  The snow on the red cliffs of New Mexico was beautiful - much more dramatic than other times we've been through.  Temperature is holding in the low 40's and the roadway is dry.  What more could you ask for!
Until later...

1 comment:

BMc said...

I remember how quiet Manchester used to be in Kansas City and how we would wait to see if the school bus could make it up the hill! i remember I loved those days. Stay safe.