Thursday, February 3, 2011

It Finally Hit the Fan!

Well, I guess it was bound to happen. With a storm this massive, we couldn't really expect to miss the whole thing. Actually we didn't hit the storm, just it's remnants.

About 100 miles east of Dallas, we started to run into patches of ice on the bridges and overpasses. Then there were more ice patches than clear pavement. It reminded me of hitting black ice while skiing. When you see black ice, you don't break or swerve, just head through it. Of course, not everyone can handle the black ice. See left. Downtown Dallas.

Then things settled down and looked pretty good with only 395 miles to our destination. But it really went downhill fast about 50 miles west of Dallas. We hit solid sheets of ice in every lane. Trucks and cars were fishtailing and spinning off the road all over the place. (BTW, the photos don't do justice to the ice. The ice was 1-2" thick and where there was no thick ice, there was a shiny ice slick. The last time I saw roadways like this was when we went to the Cotton Bowl with the Bronchuks when Flutie played for BC (1985))

When we travelled another 50 or so miles at 10-15 mph, we decided to rethink our plans for the evening. We were 250 miles from Odessa and figured it would take about 12 more hours to get there ( it was 1:30). So we looked up a hotel in Abilene on the Garmin and made a reservation.

We got stuck a number of times as trucks or cars jack-knifed and blocked the road. Several times, while stopped on an incline, the truck behind me or beside me could not get started again. What a mess. It was interesting to start up on a hill and then look in the rear view mirror and see nothing for a mile or so as the trucks behind tried to get traction on the ice.

Only 97 miles to get to that hotel. So, over a covering of 2 inches of ice, we dropped into 4WD and forged on. It was the most harrowing drive in my driving experience (on a real road), but we made it despite all the slowdowns and stoppages for accidents. Who knows what lurks tomorrow. We'll continue heading west and try to make it to Carlsbad Caverns and then Roswell (we'll skip Odessa this time).


  1. Wow!!! What a hairy day. Glad you made it safely to a motel. How long did it take you to get to Abilene? There is no rush to get there when the weather is this dangerous. Good luck with the rest of the ride.

  2. It took about 6 hours to go 100 miles on I-20. Pretty slow going, but we made it.