This morning many like me woke up to an answered prayer - moisture. Snow was falling and it looked like there might be an answer to prayers many had been sending up, for relief of the very dry conditions in the area.
When I first left the house there wasn't much accumulation. The wind was blowing what little there was, pushing it around in what appeared to be an attempt at showing just who the boss really was.
As I made my way West on the highway, however, there was an increase in snow and a decrease in visibility. Still, I wasn't too worried, after all, this was a much needed sight.
Before I even arrived in Liberal, I noticed an 18-wheeler in front of me going very slow. I checked my brakes ever so slightly. Sure enough, my tires fish-tailed just a bit and I knew even though the roadway did not appear to be slick, it most certainly was. I adjusted my speed accordingly.
I turned on my turning signal, to let other drivers know what my intentions were. I looked in my mirrors, looked over my shoulder in my blind spot, and carefully proceeded into the left lane.
I was almost completely in the lane when a dark object flashed by on my left! The sudden appearance of what quickly registered was another car, took me completely off guard. The driver was traveling at a speed way too fast for the roadway conditions. My instinct was to stomp on my brakes and I quickly regretted doing so. My car fish-tailed violently several times and began to slide over towards the ditch.
And there, was answer to prayer number two.
My car, just as quickly as it had gone out of control, was suddenly calm and going straight again. I pulled over for a bit to catch my breath. I have to admit, I had to ask for forgiveness, because my thoughts for the other driver were not in the least bit kind. I said a quick prayer of thanks that no one was hurt. No damage done. Just a quick shot of adrenaline for the morning commute.
I went back onto the roadway still rattled from what had just transpired.
When I reached Liberal, it was time to head my car North for the last leg of my work commute. It didn't take long for the road conditions to change again.
I soon found myself on snowpacked, slick roads. The visibility continued to worsen until the only way I knew I was still on the roadway was the occasional yellow lines marking the center of the road.
The saving grace of the highway lines took me back to almost 30 years ago for another commute. I was working at the newspaper in Liberal and in spite of the worsening weather outside I was determined to complete what I was doing before heading home. Finally finished, and after much advice from co-workers, I packed up my stuff and headed out the door.
Just minutes after my car headed West on Highway 54, they closed the roads. The snow and low visibility were just too much for it to be safe.
As I made my way, car after car passed me like I was standing still. Others, like me, were going at a snail's pace - around five to 10 miles per hour at best. Eventually as I proceeded on my way, I would pass the ones who had passed me - they were now stuck in the ditch waving for people to stop. I have to admit, I did not. I reported them being stuck to the proper authorities, but I was on a mission. The school bus had already dropped my children off at our house, and they were home alone in the middle of the worst storm we had seen in a long time. When choosing between someone's lack of judgement and my children - my choice was easy. They did not appear to be hurt and my children came first.
When I reached Hooker, Okla., I was almost there - at the time we lived around five miles out of town. As I was about to leave the city limits, there was a roadblock - motorists were being stopped and told the roads were closed. When I approached the local emergency responder I told him I needed to get home - my kids were there alone and I had only a short distance left to go. He hesitated for a moment and then told me okay, but to call back to the Police Department to let them know I had made it.
I proceeded on.
I was only able to navigate by watching occasional lines marking the roadway that I could see - most of them were buried by the drifting snow. The visibility was horrible. I could not see our home that was normally very visible from the highway.
I watched for landmarks, and soon saw the telephone poles lining the road I normally turned on. I took a deep breath and turned. I kept watching the poles to let me know when to turn again and soon found myself pulling up in front of our house, although I couldn't see it until I was right in front of it. I breathed a sigh of relief, said a prayer of thanks and went in to my children - all who were safe and sound.
I heard later another driver was not so lucky. An elderly woman had gone into town as she had done countless times for decades to get needed groceries. They tried to convince her not to attempt to return home, but she was insistent. They asked her to call when she got there. She never did.
Local residents went out in search of her and found her vehicle stuck in a snow drift. She had gotten out and attempted to walk the rest of the way. They found her later. She did not make it. She was but a short distance from her home. She had gauged where she was at, but the weather was too much and overcame her.
As we head in to this and even more winter weather, be careful. Don't take too many chances. Drive accordingly. Watch out for others on the roadway. Be prepared before you go. And pray.
And that brings me to the third answer to prayer - I made it to work safe and sound.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here