Sunday, March 16, 2008

Driving in Fog

Home again, home again.

It is always great to be home.

The meeting I recently attended, the cause of my temporary (err) distraction, was near Louisville, Kentucky. Upon my arrival at the Louisville Airport, I drove a rental car to the location of the meeting, a lovely retreat center in southern Indiana, aptly named Wooded Glen. This rural location was most charming. While the trees around the center were not yet blooming, the birds flocked around various feeders. I saw red-breasted nuthatches, red-headed woodpeckers, a pileated woodpecker, downy woodpeckers, cardinals, tufted titmice and robins. Alas, no camera! And, I just remembered, I saw a small flock of wild turkeys walking through the woods.

With meetings from first thing in the morning until evening, birdwatching was the only respite from hours and hours of work and words.

One additional thing we did was eat. The retreat center provided us with three full meals each day, and snacks at every break, AND cookies and milk at night! Thank goodness (for my . . .ahem. . .girlish figure) I didn't have to stay there longer than three days.

Now to the title of this blog, and to the most exciting and nerve-wracking part of the whole time. I left EARLY Saturday morning, leaving around 5:15 a.m. to get to the airport. It was SUPER foggy at that time of the morning, so as I inched down the road leaving Wooded Glen, I could see only as far as the headlight beam in front of me. Having only driven into the place, and not out, I did not know the road. And there were no white lines painted along the side of the ONE lane road, with dirt shoulders. I was surprised to come to several Ys in the road requiring me to choose one direction or another. I made my first choice, no problem.

At the second Y, I went right--and after traveling about 100 feet, I saw a CREEK directly in front of me, with no barrier or anything to stop me from going in. Except for the fact that I was driving so slowly. I then proceeded to try to back up in the fog. Ever done that? It can't be done. So I decided I had to turn around. First, I got out, tested the ground along side the road to make sure I wouldn't end up stuck in mud, then maneuvered back and forth until I got turned around. I finally got back to the Y choice, took the left branch and knew I was on the right track when I crossed the covered bridge that I had crossed when I first drove onto the retreat grounds.

I added the map to help make graphic my adventuresome trip--the pink route is what I was supposed to drive--from the X to the main road, upper left. The first yellow route is the one I made the correct choice--i.e. I did not take. The second yellow route, near the left hand side of the map, is the one I mistakenly took, and ended up staring at the creek.

While the rest of the trip was still foggy, there was nothing else quite so nerve wracking as that first part.

Out of curiosity, upon my return, I typed "driving in fog" into Google to see what results I would get. Here's what I learned: "Driving in heavy fog is like driving with a blindfold on. Statistically it's the most dangerous driving hazard in existence. No matter how important the trip is, it's not worth gambling your life. By far the safest thing to do if you run into fog is to move well off the road and wait for the fog to lift." For tips on what to do if you must drive, you can go here.

As I said at the outset, home again, home again.



Anvilcloud said...

Apparently, humans are the only animal that walks knowingly into danger. I shouldn't say knowingly, but we are suspicious or distrustful, we will often tend to walk towards it. I never thought of applying it to weather and driving, but it fits there too. We give schedules and commitments priority over sense. I am not saying this about you but about all of us in general. We're an odd species that way.

Anonymous said...

Fog . . ugg, and this time of the year we have the problem that the fog creates black ice! So when it lifts, you slide to the right instead of forward!

Mary said...

Donna, I tensed up reading this. Fog is dangerous but I wonder why some fear and respect it while others don't.

I carpooled to work with a friend back in the late seventies. She drove through the thickest fog I've seen like it was a sunny day. My feet were hard-pressed against the floor boards and my knuckles were white on the door handle. My eyes were closed as I thought I would die. Our car-pooling last two weeks but we remained friends.

I am so glad you are home. Your courage to drive alone, in a strange place, on a foggy night impresses me!

Cathy said...

Donna! Fog terrifies me. Good lord. You really had an adventure.

I've always wondered what to do if you drive into a fog. I will check out that link. Thanks.

At least you have some wonderful bird memories.

I'm glad you're home safely.

Cathy said...

OK! Finally. I went to that link and there's the answer I always wanted. If you pull well off the road - use your flashers.


JeanMac said...

Glad you're home safely. I think fog is the more dreaded condition to drive in. We have lots of it in our mountain passes and I always prayed for a clear day when we had to travel.

Beverly said...

The worst fog I ever drove in was between Waynesboro and Charlottesville. Ella was 2 months old, and I was taking her to CF clinic at UVA. I was scared to death. I thought that on the return home, it would have gone away, but no. I was so glad to get back home safe with that baby.

Ruth said...

I drove in heavy fog on Friday night through country roads I was familiar with and it was scary. We have had fog/black ice every morning this week as warmer air hits all the snow on the ground. It is very foggy tonight too. Thank goodness you made it out. Nice list of birds there!

RuthieJ said...

Yikes, Donna, that was so scary! I'm glad you were going slow enough to avoid any mishaps and made it out of there in one piece.