It all started last Friday AM, in Rochester NY, when I opened the drapes in my 2nd floor motel room window and could barely see my car. Snow, in the form a big fluffy snowflakes, was coming down - no, make that flying horizontally - in a blizzard/whiteout condition.
My first thought was that I was glad I had decided to drive our new (yes, 2 new cars in 30 days) AWD vehicle on my 600 mile round trip (to Rochester and back) for lunch. But then, my second thought was that I could now experience how the car would handle the weather for which we purchased it - north country snow storms and snow covered roads. So, instead of killing the morning in the motel room making a blog entry, re: my new information overload work, I decided to pack up, get out, and drive around.
First stop after trying to brush the snow off the car - brush the back, brush the front, go back and redo the back, go back and redo the front (a snowy version of Mr. Miyagi's "Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off." exercise) ... it was coming down that fast and furious, I saddled up and went to the Tim Hortons (the Canadians are coming, the Canadians are coming) which shared the motel parking lot. 2 chocolate covered vanilla cream donuts with a 24oz. coffee to go, and it was on with the show.
Over the next hour, I gave the car and Tim Hortons' coffee and donuts a workout on country roads, city streets, and a run on the AM rush hour expressway. The coffee and donuts were swell and the car was rockin' n rollin', totally at ease and in its blizzard / driving snow element. All things considered - Canadian fare and all-season tires (not snow tires) - I was favorably impressed.
After lunch, it was on the road again for the drive home. The sun was shining and the road dry as a bone as I jumped on the NYS Thruway, cranked up some ZZ Top go-fast music - seriously, try driving slowly while listening to this music - on the car's 12 million watt, 5,000 speaker music system, and headed East at a steady 80-90MPH pace (in FWD). In CB parlance, the Big Road was clean (no Kojaks with a Kodak) and green so I was eastbound with the hammer down, good buddy.
It was shaping up to be a piece of cake drive home, until, 90 miles later, I hit Syracuse where I drove straight into a lake-effect snow storm. The visibility was poor-ish, the roads had a slight cover of snow and slush, and more than a few Harvey Wallbumpers were ending up in the center groove. So, it was back into AWD, and fortunately, the left lane was moving along at 50-60MPH while the right lane was crawling along at 25-30MPH (many of those drivers also had their emergency flashers on ... don't ask me why).
The storm tapered off (back into FWD again) by the time I got to Utica (50 miles beyond Syracuse), where I got off the the Green Stamp for the really fun part of the drive. 20 miles up the road, you enter the Adirondack Park and 130 miles of 2-lane twisty bit roads - my favorite type of driving. It requires a fairly high level of driver involvement and concentration (especially at night), so consequently for me, the miles and time seem to fly by.
As an added bonus, driving fun and enjoyment wise, at this time of year at this time of the evening, the roads have very little traffic. On this trip, once I entered the Park, I encountered no more than 9 cars in the 120 miles between Boonville and Saranac Lake. "Clean and green" is a vast understatement.
And clean and green it was until I arrived in village of Old Forge where I stopped for a fill up of gas and coffee. The gas station in question had more snowmobiles at the pumps than cars - the nightriders were out in droves. In fact, I was the only car at the place and, by the time I left the gas station (slipping back into AWD and executing a perfect 4-wheel drift donut), a substantial snow fall had started. And that's where the real fun began.
Stopping in the village to picture The Strand - handheld / ISO 320 / 1/50sec @ f1.7 - the snowfall was most definitely creating a Winter Wonderland look and feel. Very few people or vehicles were in eveidence. Sound was deadened except for that gentle sound of snow falling. Lights were glowing softly, surrounded by halos caused by the snow.
It was very inviting and alluring. So, after making the picture, I dallied for a bit, watching and listening to the snow fall, drinking my coffee, and eating a cherry pocket pie. It was a somewhat strange and unexpected little slice of heavenly bliss.
Slipping back into the car, I headed on down the road and out of the village. As soon as I left the village, the snow was falling in earnest. Visibility was OK-ish and the roads were snow covered and marked by just single set of tire tracks. Encouraged by my AM snow ride, I stepped up the speed and was soon into a very respectable rhythm and pace. It was just me, the car, a little music, headlights puncturing the darkenss, and a very long stretch of twisty road in challenging conditions .... another bit of heavenly bliss.
About 4 miles on down the road, I came upon a guy in an AWD Audi who was moving along at a fairly decent pace. I stayed a respectable distance back so as not to tailgate and allow enough distance for a panic stop in the event of his having a mishap. We kinda danced together, automotively speaking, for about 10 miles until we came to one of the few straight sections on the road and I blew past him. Within a 1/4 mile or so he was out of sight.
The rest of the drive was uneventful. I played with the car a bit in some of the twisty bit curves - setting up slight 4-wheel drifts (electronic stability control turned OFF), punching the throttle (with a little counter-steer thrown in) mid turn to straighten it back out and keep it on line. Nothing dramatic, just a bit of fun to keep the attention / involvement level up. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that it also kept the adrenaline level a bit on the elevated side as well.
Strange as it might seem, after 300 miles of driving, 200 miles of which were in iffy / challenging conditions, I arrived home, not only safe and sound, but also relaxed and refreshed with a picture which will forever remind me of enjoyable respite, albeit on pleasurable journey, during the night on which it was me, the car, headlights illuminating a twisty road cutting the dark forest and sleepy little villages and hamlets.
So, as Vaughn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Doris Day, Andy William, Aaron Neville, and Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - amongst many, many, many others - sang, crooned, trilled, warbled, and otherwise vocalized .... Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!
BTW, I had New England clam chowder and a beer-battered haddock sandwich with fries for lunch.