“If I can just keep the car moving,” I said to Laurel, “I think we’ll be okay.”
Earlier last Friday, I had marveled at the way the snow surrounded the house, blowing, swirling, sticking to windows on every side.
Schools had announced their closures the night before. The hospital had called twice to reschedule appointments that family members had for Friday. The pool — actually the whole sports facility where I work — had decided to close pre-snowstorm.
But the swim meet was still on.
Swim meets are never canceled.
Bud shook his head in disbelief, but handed me the keys to the car that has better snow tires.
And off Laurel and I went, driving the 80+ miles to Half Moon, NY.
The roads were bad.
It was white-knuckle driving time.
I usually take back roads, zipping up and down hills, past farms, through hamlets, to save time. Not Friday, though. I chose my route based on which roads I thought would be clearest.
Route 20 wasn’t bad when I finally got on it.
Not bad, but not great either.
The viewable area in my windshield grew smaller and smaller as the wipers got caked with ice.
“I have to stop and clean the wipers,” I told Laurel — but there was nowhere to stop. The plowed lane was narrow and the shoulder non-existent.
We passed a huge Walmart truck leaning at an odd angle in the median and covered with snow. I wondered how long it had been there.
We passed an SUV down an embankment. “Do you think anyone is in that car?” Laurel asked.
“I don’t know, but I can’t stop,” I told her. “It wouldn’t be safe.”
I watch a state trooper in my rearview mirror pull over beside it. He put his flashers on for safety, and I assume he went to check.
Grimly we drove on.
“I’m going to stop at that gas station,” I said to Laurel, “so I can clean the wipers.”
But I couldn’t see the entrance and the brakes didn’t want to cooperate, so I continued driving.
30 mph seemed optimum. If I slowed, the car skidded. If I went faster, I felt like I was flirting with out-of-control.
“If I keep the car moving,” I said to Laurel, “I think we’ll be okay.”
We pressed on.
Past more vehicles off to the side.
Past 4-wheelers with plows attached.
Past bundled-up people with shovels who made me think of people bailing out sinking ships with tea cups.
Once we got to Albany, the roads were fine. The last little jaunt up to Half Moon was easy.
I sighed with relief when we checked into our hotel.
As I lay in bed that night listening to the thumps, hall noises, and plumbing sounds that go with staying in a hotel, I thought about how much of life is like that drive.
Sometimes it’s white-knuckled and demanding of every ounce of my attention.
Sometimes questions of whether I made the right decision overwhelm me.
Sometimes obstacles fall in my path.
Sometimes I can’t enjoy the scenery.
Sometimes I just have to keep moving.
Sometimes that’s all I can do.