October 28, 2010

A Peaceful Autumn Gone Wild

I was thinking this morning, as I was planning out this blog post, "Why is it that hurricanes get named, but we don't get names for these wild ride winter storms?" Think about it. When we say "Hugo" or "Andrew" pretty much everyone knows what the person is referring to. So when I'm an old lady sitting at the cafe with my friends enjoying coffee, why shouldn't I get to refer to "Blizzard Bob" or "Wind Storm Winny?" Its kind of not fair!

In my opinion, winter came roaring in like a lion this year. Does anyone have a different opinion? Monday we were enjoying the beauty of a Tennessee autumn day...

...and 24 hours later I"m shaking in my boots from the cold and wind and trying to stay dry while its snowing and getting icy!

We weren't blind to the storm. I don't think anyone got to be ignorant about this last one. I'd been keeping an eye on the weather for a couple days, especially since we knew we were headed to the Fargo area after we finished in Tennessee. After loading up in Columbia, TN we took a last look at the big picture, and made some routing decisions. The shortest route would have taken us up through Illinois, Wisconsin, and across Minnesota, but that area of the map looked really ugly. So we took a little longer route, across Missouri and up through western Iowa and eastern S Dakota and N Dakota. It avoided almost all of the rain and tornadoes, etc, but we couldn't dodge the wind. Monday night between Sioux Falls and Fargo, I passed at least 4 trucks that had blown over, and there were a few times I wondered if we might be the 5th. It was sure blowing out there, and the snow that got added into the mix in northern South Dakota gave us a little warm up on our upcoming months of winter driving!

Tuesday morning it was still blowing pretty good, and still snowing lightly. We delivered just across the line, southeast of Fargo in Comstock, MN.
And it was WET! We didn't have a very good morning unloading at the farm. We were hauling something called "TN Brown," basically some kind of mineral dirt, and that sort of thing at a farm is usually wind rowed out in a field. But like I said it was soggy, and the product was wet and didnt' want to come off the trailer. Usually to unload this way, Malcolm walks next to the trailer and hammers on the hoppers while I slowly pull forward. The situation yesterday called for some creativity, and some worrying about our equipment in the process.
Malcolm stood by the trailer and hammered, while the two farmer's sons were inside the trailer shoveling and breaking the dirt up (as seen from the driver side mirror)... 
...while I pretended to pull forward when Malcolm indicated to do so. But the truck was so heavy and the mud so thick, I had to have some help, so...
the farmer had his big John Deere tied onto the front of the truck and pulled us along.
Fortunately it all went smoothly, the dirt unloaded, and the truck and trailer didnt' get torn up. And the farmer was generous enough to let us wash out the trailer at his shop. So though it got off to a rather unpleasant start, it ended all right.

We reloaded near the SD/ND line and after a quick lunch in the local cafe, Malcolm decided he'd drive north to the interstate before going to bed. Normally he'd have just let me do this, but the wind was still blasting out of the west, and trying to go north with the wind hitting you from the west can be an adventure. It can turn a truck into a really big kite if your not careful! 
He was steering straight in the above picture, and we were going straight, even though the steering wheel looks like we were making a left turn. You pretty much had to hold it in that position to go straight north.
Finally got to I-94 and it was still blustery. The only advantage of getting to the interstate is that we would be driving into the wind instead of having it hit us from the side. Less of a fight to drive, but it still wreaks havoc on the fuel mileage. While we were in the wind, I was getting about 3.92 miles per gallon. (we normally get around 6 which is considered good)

And then just past Jamestown, ND, there was more snow on the ground and the wind was blowing the snow across the roads. It alternated between slushy roads and mostly dry roads all the way to Bismarck.
And then west of Bismarck it turned to a solid sheet of ice almost all the way to Dickinson. Needless to say it took a little longer than normal to get across the great state to North Dakota. It amuses me that in these states that see serious winter weather every year, the drivers still need one or two good storms to refresh their memory on how to drive on snow and ice. It was a little slow going for a while.

Just east of Dickinson, though, I crested a hill and the road turned dry, the sun came out and then promptly set, leaving us with a beautiful sunset. It was kind of like the rainbow at the end of the storm.

We're in Great Falls, MT this morning waiting to unload, and while its still chilly (35 degrees) its a beautiful and calm morning. When we're done here we'll reload next door and head to Billings.

So this is where I come to the goodbye. We're going home for a week or more. Time for some official time off to do what we need to do, instead of what the truck needs us to do. Got some plans for relaxing, playing, and working at home. There's even going to be some traveling, but not our usual kind so it ought to feel like a break even though we'll be on the road some. I don't intend to blog, so I'll catch up with every one's goings on when I get back. Here's hoping winter's wrath gentles down for a few weeks. I'd like to be outside a little while we're off.


small farm girl said...

I agree with you. We should name land storm too!!!! We should make it a law. lol. I'm glad to hear that you guys made it safe and sound. That wind can be scary. Have a nice vacation.

Cedar View Paint Horses said...

Great post! The weatherclowns say that was the most powerful inland storm ever on record. And I believe em. We were one of the lucky ones and didn't lose power, but many thousands in our area did.

Enjoy your vacation.

Meagan said...

Love your pictures...always do! I am always surprised when you get snow and ice while I enjoy beautiful warm fall days! LOL! Glad you are getting some home time and hopefully we'll get to see you again when you are down this way! LOVE YOU!

Missy @ My Life Ain't Always Beautiful said...

Life in the frozen arctic hell…

That sounds scary in a truck!

Farmgirl_dk: said...

My goodness, Sarah - you guys have a tough job! It's so much more than truck driving, and I never really knew this. That you and your giant rig are out there smack in the middle of the farmers' fields is crazy to me, but if I think about it, how else would it get done? You guys must be absolutely drop dead tired after days like these.
Snow...wow...it's time, isn't it.

Janice said...

I gotta tell you Sarah I think you guys are amazing with all you have to go through, I do not envy you your job....I know I couldn't do it.