Saturday, October 29, 2011

Yeah, Football...Nooooo...

As the "October Noreaster" began heading towards us, I feared for the impact it would have on our weekend.

Answer: not...good.

Sean and I headed off to Greenwich this morning, armed with the knowledge that the weather would be bad, and our day would be long. I packed as if we might not make it home - a shovel, sleeping bags, some food, and so on. We reached Greenwich around 10:30, just as the rain/snow began to fall.

Cardinal Stadium did not reveal a happy scene. A Greenwich/Darien soccer game was going on (GHS won, 1-0) but the snow got heavier and, worse, it began to stick.

In the booth, Chris Erway, Chris Kaelin and I set up shop, and Sean Kilkelly joined us later. With a 1:15 PM air time, we were comfortably prepared. The problem was that nobody else seemed to be showing up.  The stands were empty, but everyone still prepared as if there would still be a game.

Just before 1:00, our friend and GHS all-world operations guru Brian Kennedy gave us a "thumbs down" from the bottom of the grandstand. The game was off; postponed until Monday at 2:00.

From what a few people told us, it appears that Greenwich tried to move the game to Friday night at 7:00 PM, thus avoiding the weather problems, but the school has already used its allotted number of nights.

It seems a certain GHS neighbor (the man who so vocally complained about the installation of lights) would rather have people on the roads in a heavy snowstorm than have him be inconvenienced with some noise and light glare.

So Sean (my son) and I hit the road, thinking we could get home without incident (but thanks to both Chris Kaelin and Chris Erway for offering us a place to stay). We made it out of Cardinal Stadium and back to our WGCH offices before starting our trip back to Mahopac. Early on, all seemed great. We were moving well along Interstates 95 and 287. But if you haven't heard, meteorologists often use 287 as the dividing line of a storm. Accurately in this case.

We pushed through North White Plains as the situation deteriorated. It got worse along the Taconic State Parkway, as the road was dotted with busted tree branches that blocked lanes. South of Millwoood, Sean spotted a branch tumbling down.

North of Millwood, our trip almost crashed to an end. I moved into the left lane to get around a car that was just a touch too cautious on an incline, and I needed to build up a little speed for the climb. Unfortunately my tires didn't grab the roadway (this was just past a Camaro that was trying to BACK DOWN the road) and we narrowly avoided a guard rail. I used the moment to teach Sean about how to steer when slipping.

Somewhere around this point is when the windshield wiper blade in front of me began to break.  It never impacted my vision for the rest of the trip, but it was just one more thing to think about.

We made it through our next set of hazards: the steep drop before the Croton Reservoir bridge, the small climbs and descents, and even dead stoppage at the US 202/NY 35 exit, which marks the beginning of another decline, before having to climb again to get to US 6 at Jefferson Valley.

That's where I made a fateful decision.

I saw the brake lights on the Taconic, yet chose to stay the course. I found out later on that using US 6 (and thus NY 6N) would be no walk in the park either. Yet the reality was, the traffic slowed to a crawl as cars were struggling to climb a gradual incline. A couple of vehicles spun terribly, and I could do nothing but stop.

At that point, my tires could take no more.

I tried the right lane, where I noticed a few cars had created a new path. No dice. My only answer was to get off the road and wait - hopefully - for a plow.

Sean, bless him, was calm as could be. He read one of his "Wimpy Kid" books while I cleaned the car off, and I chatted with occasional passers-by.

One note: not everyone is heartless. Several motorists stopped to ask if we were OK. One went so far as to ask if we needed a ride. Very cool - thank you.

Eventually, I helped push a car or two. In total, the wait was close to an hour, when a couple of guys appeared up the road to push one of the cars still sitting (this one in the middle of the road). I helped them push another car before they came down and got me loose.

Oh, what a scene it was! A car heading southbound slammed into the center guardrail at one point, and after a while, picked up his detached bumper and drove away! I also heard the sound of creaking, cracking trees, just ready to fall. Fortunately I felt we were out of harm's way.

I thought we were in a fairly safe spot.

I still don't know who those two men were, and they weren't looking for money, but they did get Sean and I out of there. That was the good news.

The bad news was the northbound Taconic State Parkway was like an old ice hockey surface: very slippery, choppy and dangerous.

By the way, a big FAIL to New York State for not getting a plow on the Taconic. It's only a very main road.

Still I was able to reach Bryant Pond Road and exit safely, to discover that the road had been plowed. hadn't been salted. Or sanded.

I slipped as soon as we got on it.

I knew we had two more hills to deal with - one down and one up. We started down the first hill, and as soon as I hit tapped the brakes, I knew we were in trouble.

The car wouldn't stop. Our saving grace was a landing at the bottom of this portion of the hill before we hit the big drop. I got the car under control and quickly decided to turn into the lot of a former gas station that neighbors use for parking.

At that point, I was finished, and I wasn't sure I could move the car any more.

Sean and I walked from there, carrying some of our stuff and safely hiking it the last half-mile or so to safety.

The moral of the story? I need new tires.

We're both safe, sound, and dry.

The car will be there when I go back in the morning.

Oh one last note - Connecticut held their Cross Country finals today. Greenwich came in 7th, with friend Kathryn Bernstein on the team. Twin brother Mark plays on the football team. Of course, no sport gets the attention that football does, but I wanted to make sure we recognized it here. Congrats on a fine effort!

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