This morning Hick and I left the homestead at 6:15 to head toward Oklahoma to bring back The Pony. Since his unfortunate sleep-driving accident, we don't want him succumbing to another case of white-line fever. The plan was to meet him after he drove 3.5 hours, and we drove 5.5 hours, upon which I would get in with The Pony to keep him company the rest of the way.
Only one problem...THE WEATHER!
Perhaps you are a denizen of Missouri, and experienced the surprise ice event Friday evening. If not, let the record show that people were caught unawares by freezing mist, and spent 4X the normal commute time to get home. Hick made it ahead of the polar vortex by the skin of his teeth. The same type of weather was in the forecast for late evening today. IF you can believe those dad-blasted meteorologists. Which I, myself, cannot. Uh uh. Hook them up to a polygraph, and I STILL won't believe them. They are delusional.
I questioned the trip, but Hick said we'd be fine. 5.5 hours going, 5.5 hours coming back with The Pony, and VOILA! Home by 5:00 p.m., with the dropping temps and bad stuff starting at 6:00. That was the local forecast for Backroads. I even checked the St. Louis news station website weather. Put in the futurecast. Looked up Oklahoma weather. All systems looked go-for-it. We would be ahead of the freezing temps and precipitation. 58 degrees for the high. Maybe a little of below-freezing action on the way home, around Genius's college town, in the early afternoon...but still back home ahead of the bad stuff.
Val plans. Meteorologists laugh.
We left the homestead at 6:15. Temps in the garage were 35 degrees. By the time we were filling A-Cad up with gas, it was 43. We were good to go.
The temperature dropped the whole way! And we were in fog. Mist all over the windshield. As we rolled past Springfield, we hit 31 degees!
"This is a really bad idea! We are in for trouble. Now it's going to freeze like last night. And what about The Pony? He's never driven on this stuff."
"We'll be fine, Val. The mirrors aren't even iced up."
"Um. Mine has ice ALL OVER IT!"
"Well, what can we do now? The Pony is already on his way. He's not going to look at his phone while he's driving."
So...we kept going, and the temperature kept dropping, and The Pony reached the meeting place before us, him having driven in 35 degree weather with no precip. We told him to come closer, and met up sooner, saving us 15 minutes going and 15 minutes coming back.
The weather was terrible. Down to 23 degrees. Windshield wipers freezing solid. Hick beating them against the glass, tearing The Pony's driver's wiper right off the swiping rod. THREE TIMES! The Pony turned them on the first time, as we were backing out of a parking lot at a rest area, and it shot loose! Hick had taken off in a fit of pique because we weren't making the time he thought we should be, what with The Pony only driving 65 on that soon-to-be-frozen highway. We called him and he stopped, reluctantly, to re-attach it.
We stopped several times to clean off the wipers. A wreck by Genius's college town put a warning on one of those electric highway signs that 14-16 minute waits were occurring up ahead. I pleaded for staying overnight and not risking it. A suggestion pooh-pooh-ed by Hick. He was supposed to lead us to a shortcut on the outer road, but said no, he could see where we were getting off. When it was really the wreck detour he was seeing. THEN he called several times to tell The Pony to close the gap! Close the gap! Meaning to run right up on his bumper in those conditions, at 50 mph. Genius sent us a text that roads were icing in his town.
Of course we got stuck in the wreck traffic. Hick turned on his emergency flashers, even though WE were behind him. The Pony was not pleased.
"I don't know why he did that. It hurts my eyes. I've never had a seizure before, but those flashing lights make me feel like I might."
Once we finally made our turn off the interstate, it was full dark, and snowing, and 23 degrees. I told The Pony I would drive A-Cad over the two-lane blacktop, because I drove it for years when I used to teach in that area. With two hours still to go, ol' Val strapped herself behind the wheel. AFTER an argument with Hick that she couldn't stand up on that parking lot, due to ice. Which he denied. Then finally rubbed his foot over it and agreed, and helped Val into the driver's seat. He took command of the Rogue, The Pony hopped in with me, and off we went, through the dark, snow blowing.
I have never been so glad to get home in my life. At 7:30 p.m. A 13.5-hour tour.