Thursday, January 27, 2011

Worst. Commute. Evah.

The Yankee gub'mint let us go a couple of hours early yesterday because of the winter storm warning, but it wasn't enough time. Mrs. Paco picked me up at the Vienna Metro station, and what is ordinarily a 20-minute rush-hour trip home over a distance of 3 1/2 miles took 4 1/2 hours.

I have never seen such chaos in my life. The snow was coming down heavily and vehicles were getting stuck all over the place. People would get out of their cars to shove somebody out of the way, and then get stuck themselves. Trees down. Absolute gridlock. Idiots creating bottlenecks at intersections. An ambulance trying to get through traffic with a small snow-plow in front. The county snow-plows immobilized because the streets and highways were parking lots.

Mrs. Paco, after studying a map, proposed a bold new course through previously untraveled territory. We ran into another traffic jam, but finally got through it, then drove through some unfamiliar neighborhoods, where all the street signs were unreadable because they were plastered with snow. Suddenly, we came out exactly where the missus had said we would, and we were able to cross Arlington Blvd. and proceed into our neighborhood.

Our house is on a dogleg cul-de-sac, up a steep hill, and I got half way up, when my tires started spinning. I backed down the hill and was planning another attack, but got stuck good and proper in the snow. We walked up to the house, and the power went out just as we got to the front yard. It came back on around 5 am, but cable, telephone and internet were out until just a couple of hours ago.

We were among the lucky ones. It took a couple of our neighbors more than 8 hours to get home. And I suspect a great many people wound up sleeping in their cars. I was so grateful to get home, I genuflected and crossed myself, like Columbus when he made landfall in the New World.

When I retire, it's going to be Florida or Arizona, for sure.


Anonymous said...

Thank God for Mrs. Paco's courage to brave new territory! Of course, being the smart folks that you are, I'll bet that the vehicle is stocked with an emergency pack: flash lights, batteries, blankets, energy bars, etc.

Don't you have a generator at the house? Did you ever get a snow blower?

Take care! Hopefully, pictures to show the "groundhog day" in progress.

Deborah Leigh

Paco said...

We've got a gasoline-powered generator but, er, heh, I forgot to buy gasoline.

Merilyn said...

Did the powers that be give everyone a day off to recover after that adventure?
Did Al Gore turn up for a visit in your area?

JP said...

Fortune Favors The Bold

Mrs. Paco's motto..

Just bummin' around the interwebby last evening, found a site that was posting people (their pic's and avatars were showing as well)'tweeting'/twittering' (whatevah) in the D.C. area including the Maryland/Virginia.

Most gave up and were suggesting to all those in particular areas the hell with this lets stop and have a snowball fight

Steve Burri said...

Sounds a lot like Wisconsin, except... all our systems are prepared for it and experienced in dealing with it. We have even evolved special snow shoveling back muscles.

Yojimbo said...

Arizona eh. Lots of good land at an affordable price in Flagstaff. Write when you hit the border.

You needn't take Tales From The Vienna Woods so literally you know.

Just reason number one billion and one for not buying one of those stupid Volts.

Michael Lonie said...

Don't tell Paco that Flagstaff gets snow in the winter, or he won't come.

Paco, if you want to avoid snow come to Western Oregon. Admittedly we get sun only in the summer, and continual rain the rest of the year, but it's not so bad, especially if you take Vitamin D supplements. We generally get only a couple of days of snow each year and it never gets too bad. You'd have to put up with it being the People's Republic of Oregon, full of reactionaries and watermelons, but is that worse than what you have now?

Paco said...

Michael: Oregon, eh? Well, I have always wanted to see Crater Lake.

Steve: No two ways about it; people here just aren't used to driving in snow.

Formerly of Toowoomba (Qld) said...

G'day PACO, not sure what it is like to retire to Florida, and the only parts of Arizona I have seen are a desert and a big hole in the ground but both Florida and Arizona are full of Australian pro golfers so the weather there must be OK. If you want decent weather to retire to then Sydney is not bad. It doesn't snow here (except in 2008 but they called it soft hail because it upset the then AGW theory) so I can play golf and tennis year round and spend most of the Summer months at the beach.

It has a lot to recommend itself - if you can put up with chronicly inept governments (local, state and federal at present) and NSW people.

And Queensland generally is brilliant - bit of rain this year but it will recover.

JP said...

Found it. Washington DC Snowball Fight Association.

Pacosan, might want to think the Florida option, even though you lived in the Miami area, at one time as I recall.

Think Hurricane's.

Now, not living in the Panhandle of Fl. (although still have the real property) all I have to concern myself with are the three separate insurance demands, casualty, windstorm and flood (define flood and rising water, please sir) (ahh, you see, that had to have occurred on Thursday before 6:43 AM, but not after 3:25 PM, so sorry chap).

THAT in itself will be a disaster.

Paco said...

F of T: Sydney sounds a fine place, but I may be too old to learn Australian.

JP: Mrs. Paco's biggest objection to Florida is hurricanes.

SwampWoman said...

What's wrong with hurricanes? We need the rainfall.

Yojimbo said...

It has never snowed in Flagastaff when I've been there.

Minicapt said...

"Sympathy", some day I shall look it up in the dictionary.
Because you are interested, my snowdrops should be blooming any day now.


bruce said...

Yes very warmish and humid right now here in Sydney, even up here in the 'mountains' (Ha!).

I'm a mix of NSW and Qld blood (If you only knew!) so I guess I'm only half bad.

Once again we see that Mrs Paco is a major asset!

Take care you guys!

JeffS said...

Yeeech! That's a BAAAAD commute! And the Pacomobile couldn't get up that hill. BAAAAD conditions, for sure! Good to hear y'all made it home fine. I hope Mabel wasn't too frantic.....

Michael is correct about western Oregon being snow free, but stay away from NW Oregon, which is anything but storm free. They get hit with the same "Pineapple Express" systems that hit western Washington fairly regularly. With lots of flooding.

Check out Douglas County, which is something of a banana belt. It's economically depressed thanks to the lumber industry getting shut down, but still decent.

Alas, Michael is also right about the reactionaries and watermelons, of which there are many in Douglas County (I have relatives there, none of them liberal.). The U of Oregon has a serious anarchist population as well.

And after being run into the ground by non-stop progressive governments, the entire state tends to goofy about taxes.

Still, you might look at eastern Oregon. There's snow, but not that much at lower elevations. And certainly not as much as Virgina.

Or go across the Snake River into Idaho; the state government is about as conservative as you can get these days.

Mr. Bingley said...

Donner, party of 8, your table is ready..

Yojimbo said...

And Oregon doesn't have those Gigantic earthworms that have ravaged Washington.:)

JeffS said...

Yup, Yojimbo, we fight those off weekly!


missred said...

sorry to hear about your travel travails. i left work at 3 - arrived in frederick a little before 4, where the roads were already covered. hunkered down with a few vodka gimlets and enjoyed the lightening.

Anonymous said...

Don't be silly, Paco.

Florida, indeed.

Come to sunny Brisbane instead. I'm moving there next month, Kae, Habib, Pickles etc are already there, Blair and the Wogger we can kidnap and keep chained up in the cyber dungeons (they like that sort of thing), it's always warm and the beer is always cold.

And if you want to feel cold, Tenterfield is only 200k away, and it gets cold there in winter.

MarkL of Canberra

(Hmm. Soon to be MarkL of Brisbane... or mebbe MarkL of Canberra, in Brisbane)

Anonymous said...

paco, don't believe Formerly of Toowoomba.

Sydney's weather is OK, but... the transport system was designed by drunken demented marxists on crack.

The place is expensive to buy into, expensive to live in and a nightmare to travel in - DC is vastly easier to move around in than Sydney. (We had military friends in Reston and stayed there for a few months some years ago).

Nope. Brisbane. And no need to learn to speak Australian. We are all mutually intelligible after several beers.

AND the Beenleigh rum distillery is just down the road!

MarkL of Canberra

Paco said...

Brisbane it is!

Merilyn said...

I back MarkL, Brisbane is the place to go to.
Sydney is a shocker these days trying to get from point A to point B gives you nightmares, all those tolls.
[That point of view is from a born and bred NSW person, me].
I live in S.A. for health reasons, otherwise would be back in Brisbane in a flash.

Minicapt said...

-1350–1400; ME < L < Gk ( hoi ) antípodes lit., (those) with the feet opposite (pl. of antípous ), equiv. to anti- anti- + -podes, nom. pl. of poûs foot
- noun ( used with a plural verb )
a group of islands SE of and belonging to New Zealand. 24 sq. mi. (62 sq. km).


Merilyn said...

Good to see you back on Tim's blog MarkL we are having all these vistors from Andrew Bolt's at the moment some are good, but some of the trolls need reigning in a bit, they need you to have a "word" with them. Mouldy is doing a fair job likewise Spot and JeffS but Where is RebeccaH?

Formerly of Toowoomba said...

MarkL, you understate Sydney's transport problems! It is much, much worse. That said, I live and work in Neutral Bay, it is a ten minute walk to the harbour, twenty to the bridge and I can walk into the city over the bridge in forty minutes. My daughter's school is five minutes walk away, my golf club is ten minutes drive (slightly longer in Summer as everyone is going to the beach at Manly - which is fifteeen minutes away) and my wife's office is a five-ten minute drive. So, Sydney is lovely if you plan carefully and avoid Sydney roads, buses or rail (though I do recommend the ferries) like I clearly have!

But I am a Queenslander and if things were different, I would be back in Toowoomba or Brisbane with a place at the Sunshine Coast.