There were four days left to file and it was the last weekend of the tax season for 2018. I couldn't have been happier in less than a week I would be leaving Wisconsin and heading West to warmer temperatures and enjoying more adventures along the way. Today was the day Mother Nature decided to show us that Winter was still here.
What was known to locals as “mild winters” for the last two years would be considered a drought by the experts and this year in 2018 Mother Nature made up for lost time and decided to break some records as well. Not only for temperatures but for snow amounts and when these amounts took place.
My commute started North of where I worked and I woke up to dry roads, with a few slick areas, and no added snow accumulations. I was able to maintain the posted speed limits for most of the way; however, the happy dance slowed down the closer I got to Interstate 94. About 20 minutes North of it the winds began to pick up and whiteout conditions had begun, even the road under me began to disappear.
The cars behind did too as the gusts of wind and snow blew between us. It was during these times that I hoped and prayed there would be no surprises from other vehicles who had stalled, went into the ditch or pulled out from a side road. The closer I got to I94, the fewer the cars were which was not all bad in these conditions but it did make me wonder what I was driving into. Even though it was Saturday, normally, there would be a few more cars out here. I passed through the last small town before the Interstate and as I looked up ahead the Interstate had disappeared. Wind and snow were hiding it and even the Pilot truck station couldn't be seen until I was next to it.
I slowly merged onto the ramp that leads to the Interstate and it was then that I realized there was no one in front of me, behind me or alongside me. I was completely alone on I94 West, this had never happened to me before. As this, all started to register I heard, " Everything's so blurry and everything's so empty and everything is so messed up" being sung over the radio by Puddle of Mudd and their song Blurry. How appropriate. This seemed to be a trend when "adventures" like these popped up, it was like the music knew exactly what to play that made the whole thing just a bit eerier.
Four more days... As I sat here writing this chapter we were currently in a “Historical April Snowstorm” also known as Winter Storm Xanto and under a Winter Storm Warning and Blizzard Warning. The storm came in slowly, silently and even teased us with her speed which had us thinking it would miss us completely.
Even though today marked my last Saturday for the tax season as well as the last few days of the one-way hour commute forever I still found myself staying in a hotel for the night and not wanting to deal with the roads. Which, as the day went on, would prove to be a very good idea.
The hotel was in a town along the border of Wisconsin and Minnesota. It was normally a 15-minute commute but roads and wind made it twice as long and with side roads barely plowed I was happy to not have to drive any further. Several cars were in the ditches along the way and even semi-trucks were pulled over, in more than one instance the sound of police and ambulance sirens could be heard in the distance.
When I choose to travel, I choose to stay at Choice Hotels and this was no exception. This was a Quality Inn Hotel, next to the Interstate and near the main road that went through Hudson, WI. It was small, quaint and for the most part quiet until after midnight and after a few drinks, some of the guests decided to loudly walk down the hallway. Either this was short-lived or I was just too tired to care but was asked about it upon check out. It looked like the winter storm had passed and the remainders of it were only a few flurries, the roads were snow covered but driveable at faster speeds than the day before. Three more days...
But Winter Storm Xanto wasn't done with our area as it whipped around again to drop another three inches as the day went on. By the time I left work to head home, the roads were barely plowed and the wind was back up, along with visibility deteriorating. The wind was pushing me around, the road beneath was disappearing along with the cars around me. There was a side-road I liked to take that bypasses a town and usually cuts the time on the commute but it didn't take long after I turned on it to realize it hadn't been plowed and I had no idea which lane I was in and was being pulled over to the side from the large drifts I had to drive through.
On a blind hill, a tow truck was trying to get a pick up out of a deep ditch, I could only hope no one was coming and that my slow pace wouldn't get me stuck. Success. I finally turned on to the final stretch that leads back to the main road and realized the first part had taken almost 20 minutes which was usually a ¼ of the time, so much for the "shortcut" and this last part proved to be just as bad. Up ahead was the main highway but this was only slightly better than the road I had left and it was only because of the rumble strips that I knew when I wasn't centered in my lane.
White-knuckled, going slow with traffic behind me lead to exhaustion, frustration and downright anger. This was exactly what I didn't want to do during my last days of work. It only got better as I came upon another town and had a plow in the opposite lane, one that wasn't going to budge an inch and had me moving over to the shoulder, into a snow drift and fishtailing past him. Thanks, buddy! Then came the large bridge, which is a pain even on dry roads. My lane was completely snow covered with large drifts which forced me to go into the oncoming lane to make it safely across, glad no one was coming towards me, and all cars behind me did the same thing.
But it never ends quietly, even on the backroad that leads to home I came around a curve to see a farm tractor coming towards me taking up over half of the road. I did a double take because, I mean, really? We had over a foot of snow and we're out with a tractor, why? O.k. Why not. I mean up to this point, the drive wasn't already full of obstacles and close calls, let's throw a tractor in. When I finally get home, I step outlook around at the snow, and said, "This is fucked up." Gave a gesture to the Universe and walked in.
The next morning roads were still snow covered but at least they were cleaner and the speed was a bit faster not posted speed limits, but faster than the night before. There were also snow showers still lingering as the last of the storm passed over us. I decided to skip my shortcut and go through the town. Bad choice. Up ahead ten cars were hitting their brake lights as I passed the shortcut turn and in the very far distance I saw heavy snow blowing; snow plow. Ugh! We now crawled into the town and as I turned into it there was a train passing on the tracks; really? It already took 10 minutes to go 5 miles and now I have a train on the track that never sees a train until now after a major snowstorm? Uh, o.k.
I drove through town and hit every green light which was good because there were still areas I didn't want to stop because it would have been difficult to get going again. As I left town I passed by the other the shortcut and saw that it was plowed and sanded. Of course, it was. That ended another glorious tax season.
Click On The Road Trips tab to read all about my adventures as I travel, once again, to the West.
You don't have to go far to have fun. Here are a few places I visit when I'm not driving across country or exploring the Rustic Roads.