Sunday, November 21, 2010

Black Ice and Diapers

I am on the phone a lot with people from different parts of the country for work and when they hear I am in Minnesota, I get the typical, "MINNESOTA?!  Is it cold up there yet?" 

They ask that in August when it is 84 degrees.  And I'm being serious. 

Born and raised in Minnesota, I have a lot of state pride and I am constantly defending my state and trying to display Minnesota in a good light.  I feel like people have the wrong impression.  I do my best to explain that Minnesota is a beautiful four season state and just because our winters get the most attention, doesn't mean that's how it is ALL the time. 

I tell people they would probably love Minnesota if they came to visit...and then classify that by telling them if they do come to visit, to come between May and October.  And if you want to be on the safe side of that, really June through September.  But July or August are sure bets. 

One guy the other day said, "Yeah, I have a buddy from Minnesota and he said the winters were so bad that all they had to do was stay inside and drink all winter."

"See?  I said.  Yet another reason to love this state!"

I try to put a positive spin on things and use words like "embrace."  Minnesotans "embrace" winter.  We's sucks...but let's make the most of it.  We have sledding parties, play hockey, make skating rinks on the frozen lakes, ice fish, build fires and snowmen, and have a great excuse to go on lots of warm weather vacations.  And when the weather does turn beautiful and warm for the other half of the year, we appreciate it that much more and squeeze in as much as we can during that time--like go boating, enjoy our lake homes, eat outside, entertain outdoors, and go to the ballpark.

And as any fellow grape grower will know, we are constantly having to explain how we are, indeed, able to grow grapes in this state.  Yes, we do actually have a lovely growing season.  We are not snow covered year round and we make some darn good wine too!  I addressed that here.

Now.  All this being said, I don't have a fondness for my state today.  Or this month for that matter.  Even as a true Minnesota girl, I don't feel like defending my state today.  See, I always think of November as a decent month because it's still not really winter.  We don't get much snow and it is usually just starting to get cold, but definitely not unbearable.  And I don't remember a time when weather played any deciding factor in our Thanksgiving travel plans. 

Not this month.  The last two weekends alone, we've endured some of the worst winter conditions we can get.  First a snowstorm with nearly 10 inches of accumulated snow and now this weekend, freezing rain and black ice.

And I can't even stay inside and drink!

When it snowed last weekend, we canceled plans with some friends and rescheduled for this weekend, the impending frozen rain unbeknownst to us.  After a nice dinner at their house, we got ready to head home about 10:30pm.  They have a four month old son who had just outgrown a size in diapers, so they sent us home with a box of diapers, which was very nice.  Aaron learned the hard way that there was black ice all along their front steps, by taking a nice biff on the steps, diapers flying everywhere.  And I, even while hanging on to his arm, slipped on the ice too.  Don't worry...we are both okay! 

Our friends were quick to offer us their guest bedroom to stay the night, and after a brief debate, we decided to just drive home very slowly.  Our dogs were home and hadn't been outside since 3pm that afternoon. 

Long story short, what is usually a 25 minute drive home, ended up taking us nearly 4 hours.  FOUR!  We were home safely and in bed by 2:30am.  The first two hours were just us driving slowly, watching cars around us skid everywhere, waiting for cars that would get stuck going up a hill or skidding through stoplights.  While most of this driving is out of any driver's control, I am thankful Aaron handles these conditions very well.  Because I don't. 

The other two hours we were only 5 miles from our house and ended up getting stuck in a line of cars behind a bus that had gone off the road and two other cars that appeared to skid around it and ended up blocking the lane of traffic.  After an hour of sitting there, someone came up to our window and told us they were closing the Hwy until a salt truck could come through and they were waiting on a boom truck to pull the bus out, which could be about 4 hours.  We weren't going anywhere for a while. 

Meanwhile, Schrambino had been moving around like crazy.  He must have sensed my adrenaline pumping with all the excitement and wanted in on the action, because I swear he was doing jumping jacks on my bladder the whole time.  May I remind you we were stuck on pure ice roads in a row of traffic with no indication of how long we'd be there. 

I had no idea when we took those infant diapers that they would actually come in handy on our drive home. 

You heard me.

And that's all I am going to say about that....


Eventually, a fireman came to our window and told us if we could slide backwards and turn around we could turn onto a side road to get back to the highway, which by then had been salted.  And about 20 minutes later we were home, at 2:21am. 

Suffice it to say, despite our plans to watch the Viking/Packer game today with some friends, we will not be driving anywhere today.

Be safe and drive safe Minnesotans.  It's going to be a looooong winter.  And to the rest of you...probably best to wait until next spring or summer for a visit.