Thursday, December 18, 2008

in the city of the future, it is difficult to concentrate

It's been a really interesting week for driving.

The combination of the never-ending snow and the mercury consistently hovering between -20 and -30C, with a nasty windchill thrown in for good measure, have meant that the roads have been permanently stuck in what is known as "winter driving conditions". Add to that the approximately 370 million cars that are on Calgary roads at any given time, futilely spinning their tires at intersections, and you end up with a road system comprised entirely of perfectly polished black ice.

Here is what a week of commuting (or as I like to call it, confronting my own mortality) on this highway of ice have taught me:

1. How to count backwards. Counting down the numbers of times left in the week that I have to either drive the Resident Offspring to school or pick her up has kept my countdown skills sharp.
2. If they tell you it's going to take twice as long to get where you are going, assume it will be three times as long.
3. If the road conditions dictate that I should be driving 45 km/hr in a 60 zone, I will fucking drive 45 km/hr. I don't care that you would rather go racing past me, fish-tailing out of control on the ice. Do that in your own lane.
4. The Resident Offspring has a freakishly high vapour content in her breath. Whenever she is in the vehicle, the back windows frost completely over, despite the fan and the heat blasting on maximum in both the front and the back. And yes, the A/C is on.
5. If you mention your Winnipeg winter driving training, all of a sudden everybody in the room is from Winnipeg. And we all puff out our chests and brag about our ability to maneuver our urban assault vehicles nimbly along two narrow strips of black ice, just wide enough to hold the tires in between packed snow that all but scrapes the bottom of the car. A common phrase is they don't even know what square tires are in Calgary, said with a derisive snort.

We ex-pat Winnipegers are inexplicably proud of coming from a place that tries its darndest to kill you for at least seven months of the year.



Don't the mosquitoes in Winnipeg try to kill you the other 5 months? ;)

Wandering Coyote said...

Well, I learned to drive in the mountains of the southern BC interior IN THE WINTERTIME, and no it's not Winnipeg, but man did ever drill into me some great reflexes.

Allison said...

i hate winter driving. we are getting hit with a storm tomorrow and i'm driving home, i hope i make it back before it gets too bad.

Anonymous said...

honestly I'd rather drive in Winnipeg in the winter than out here when it least there are no hills to try and get up or to try and not slide down and through the intersection.

I do remember it being so cold the car seats are solid and your head hits the roof of the car.

bloody awful poetry said...

Apparently when you drive in snow (ON snow?) you're not supposed to slow down or stop or something. Is that true? But I'm imagining the roads are pretty clear though. Yes?

mister anchovy said...

I've never given Winnipeg a fair shot. I've only driven through on my way to somewhere else.

Here in Toronto, we're expecting a major winter storm to hit any minute.

dguzman said...

Yikes. I won't complain about driving over the hilly terrain in Central PA. It's rough, but not as rough as you have it.

Stay safe, Zombie!

Mnmom said...

I grew up in northern Iowa and now live in Minnesota - and I love winter driving, expect the white outs. Those are scary.

Come on over to MY place to see your Secret Santa gifts! Posting them tonight.

Sean Wraight said...

I LOVE IT when every Autumn Dave Philips from Environment Canada is queried on his prognostication for the state of our upcoming winter. Like maybe, just maybe its going to pass us by, or we'll only be stuck in a deep freeze for five months instead of six.

So far, nothing but nasty. In the midst of one right now actually with three more storms on the doorstep.

Methinks we better organize a Blogger convention in Jamaica come February- "It's going to be a bumpy ride."


Bridget Jones said...

Love those tag titles!!! Was thinking of you while watching the weather forecasts holy crow you guys are in the deep freeze.

I kind of like winter driving--the challenge--but I hate the dummies who show up on the road once a year at Christmas. THEY're the big problem!

glassmeow said...

@ Wandering Coyote - would that be the Coquihalla? That was a bit hairy even in the Summer. It must be a bobsled run in Winter.

Wandering Coyote said...

Glassmeow: nope, not the Coke, though I've driven that a few times in hairy weather. I live in Rossland BC.

phlegmfatale said...

well, it's nice that someone somewhere knows how to drive in weather. Dallas is dry so much of the year that a dusting of winter product can bring things to a screeching, er, skid.

Ho hum.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

The cold and the mosquitoes are the reasons that Winnipeg is one of the most creative places on the planet, Urban. You can never go outside, so you stay in and dream up shit.

You are my new hero, Wandering Coyote! Driving through there in the SUMMER freaks me out. Is there not one straight road in that entire province?

A series of storms, in fact, Al. I sure hope you guys are able to fly away south still. I am sacrificing a tofu goat to the flight goddess as we speak.

Oh yeah, the season of no springs! Such a delight, Kelly.
Winnipeg is nice and flat, but Calgary certainly has hills, and some of the most poorly designed roads I have ever encountered. Also, many asshole drivers.

Driving THROUGH snow would be a good way to put it, BAP. Yes, keep going unless you want to get stuck. They do clear the major roads of snow, but the secondary ones just rely on melting, which we are not getting any of these days.

And you just know that the rest of the country is wondering if the army is going to be called in again, Mister Anchovy. I hear it's a nasty series of storms though.

I imagine you get your fair share of snow, Dguzman, so those hills would be scary. You stay safe too!

Hi Mnmom, welcome! Well if you all drive around with those great snow plows, such as I was chuffed to receive in my secret santa stocking, I imagine you would feel pretty infallible on those roads.
I love my gifts! Thanks!

I am practically drooling as I read the words "blogger convention in Jamaica next February", Sean. And Dave Phillips si NOT invited, although knowing how we all love to talk about the weather, maybe he should come along to keep us up to date on how awful things are back home.

Yeah, we've had a few of those once a year white-knuckle drivers around here, Bridget. I think they only serve to piss off the aggressive asshole drivers, who get more aggressive and assholey, and everybody loses.

Glassmeow and Wandering Coyote, I don't know how anybody drives in that crazy province, during any season, at least in the interior.

Snow must be a real shock to Dallasites, Phlegmfatale! I don't imagine it takes much to shut everything down.

Melissa B. said...

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Dale said...

I couldn't finish reading this post because John-Rae and the River's song THE ROAD came on. Your powers over everything amaze me Barbara!

justacoolcat said...

I had to do some shopping and a lunch yesterday and the roads were horrible. Even where the roads were plowed and clear there were spot of black ice.

At one point there was black ice for about a half a mile stretch and between 20-30 cars were in various states of crash,spin out, and clusters of 1-3 car accidents.

Pretty scary.

If you feel the need to go out you're best off just spinning your tires in intersections and slowing everyone down.

Stay warm and stay safe!

Remi said...

Just had my first dose of winter driving for the year and what bothered me most were the idiot big rig drivers who are determined to speed and pass in slippery conditions because they think they are somehow invincible because they're driving something big.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'll have to check it out when I get a chance, Melissa B.

Funny how I can control your itunes, Dale, and yet mine has me wrapped around its little finger and it beating my head against the wall.
Speaking of Jon-Rae and the River, though, I finally have my article about Jon-Rae Fletcher posted on my sidebar (he's got some folks out on the coast) if you are interested in having a wee read.

Your description of the roads there just brought the horrible week of commuting flooding back to me, JustA. You be careful and do what I plan to do for the foreseeable future, hunker down and hang with the family.

I guess they are somewhat more invincible than the rest of us, Remi, in that they won't die as easily as we will. Be careful out there!

Anonymous said...

No wonder you like the Weakerthans so much! ;)

I spent the weekend in Lake Louise and Saturday morning we woke up to the decidedly un-tropical temperature of -38C. As I told many of my American pals, that is nearly the same in Yankee degrees, and that is COLD.

The roads in the city have been terrible! Way to go, City of Calgary -- things are bad enough as it is, but I don't envy you having to drive in this giant skating rink. Stay safe!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

The Weakerthans love is in the blood, Ruh.
I sure hope you didn't ski in the -38C weather. I would definitely skip the ski part and go directly to the apres part.