2008 Whirlwind Scrabble Tour: Safe and Comfortable in Erie, PA

Boy, today has been rough. It was the second day of the MOO Scrabble tournament in Mississauga, Ontario and all of my group were anticipating some decent results, based on Day 1. Although three of the four of us who attended the tournament maybe didn't plow over the opponents as we'd hoped, we each gained a nice number of ratings points. The fourth Scrabble friend came down with the flu last night and couldn't play today. (What a nightmare. Away from home, unable to finish a tournament, feeling like crap, and having to travel with a bunch of people.)

The games aren't a huge focus for me right now, though. I'm coming down off a serious stress-attack. After our fourth game today, I went to pick up my friends Sara and Jennifer who came along to do the tourist thing. And guess what? I got lost....for two hours. There are lots of things that could have improved the situation, but by the time I realized that I could not get myself going in the right direction, I felt like I was so far off the mark that even stopping for directions wouldn't have helped (because there would be too many details). Plus, at that point I was in tears and very, very upset.

Anyway, I made it back to the tournament after missing the entire first game following lunch. I was so shell-shocked that I racked up three huge losses in the last three games. Thank you to everyone who was concerned while I was MIA and who offered me comfort when I returned. (By the way, the tournament people did try to call me when I didn't come back from lunch but my phone didn't ring, most likely because I was in Canada.)

After a long, long day, the crew piled back into the van, each of us ready to get to our respective homes. We knew there were some winter weather warnings to the south...but there was really no other direction to go. Since we weren't quite ready (or invited) to relocate to Canada permanently, we headed out. Following some fast food dinner, a gas tank fill-up, and maybe 120 miles on the road, we found that winter weather.

With Dallas navigating, and offering a great deal in the way of calm, solid driving advice, and consultation on our travel decisions, I drove on for an hour or so. The stormy weather faded in and out, allowing us to build up to a slow-but-reasonable speed and then forcing us back down to 15 miles an hour. When the high parts of the snow tracks started scraping the bottom of the van, I started to lose my energy for it again. While I know there was little chance of a problem, I was fretting primarily over the safety of my five passengers. Secondarily, I was concerned about our comfort (as in how uncomfortable it would be to be stuck in a snow bank with a non-operational vehicle). In a tie for third place, I worried about the happiness of my co-travelers and about maintaining my van in its non-wrecked state.

After a while, I pulled over to let Dallas drive. The decision had been to push on a little way and see if the weather got any better (and if the trip got any better with a fresh driver). We took a break at a gas station, allowing people to make some phone calls and get snacks.

As soon as Dallas' shift started, the roads began to clear. We built up a little speed...up to about 45 miles an hour. As if we had driven through some tiny little sheltered stretch of road, we emerged into a road in bad condition just like it had been. I'm not sure if I should say Dallas is a more confident driver or just a less nervous driver (and I'm not sure if there's any difference) but he seemed to be doing just fine. For no obvious reason (other than your average packing of snow and ice), we started into one of those sideways, spinning slides. Dallas brought the vehicle back into control right away and, right away, it was decided that we would pull off at the next exit and get hotel rooms.

Now we're safe and sound (and starting to relax) outside of Erie, PA. The rooms weren't too expensive and it wasn't absolutely critical that any of us be at work tomorrow. In the frustration of the moment, I wasn't sure if it was better to stop for a hotel or if I was overreacting. Now that we're here, I'm glad.

There's a slight tapping sound on the window where snow and ice are hitting it. By tomorrow morning, though, the roads will be treated and it will be daylight (as implied by the term "morning"). With at least a fairly decent night's rest, we'll press on toward home and hopefully feel better about the process.


Steve said...

Looks like you were prescient, at least with the title in your previous entry;-)

Sorry about your rough drive back. We encountered bad roads on the way home, too, and saw many accidents and even more cars stranded in the ditches and medians. Hope you can find time to put your feet up and enjoy a warm meal when you eventually get home.

Tina said...

Who would've guessed way back when I dubbed this year's Scrabble experience that it would have been such a premonition. It's just a good thing I didn't name it the "2008 Dallas, Tina, Pete, George, Sara, and Jennifer Freezing to Death in a Wrecked Van in a Ditch Scrabble Tour." In the light of day, and driving on a relatively-clear road, there was no doubt our decision to stop was the right one.

I was wondering if you all had bad roads. I've been home for a little over three hours and the effect is just starting to wear off. I'm glad you got home safely, too.

Almost Famous said...

Oh, my God. I soooo, SOOOOOOOOOOOO know about the getting lost thing. I'm getting ready to blog tomorrow (on Myspace) about my past week out of town, but Monday night from about 12:30 until 2:00 am I was lost in downtown DC (mostly in the sketchy part too) for an hour and a half trying to find an interstate entrance. I kept like pounding the steering wheel and was SO CLOSE to tears. It was the most freaking horrible thing.

I finally stopped at a bar and asked the doorman for directions. His directions were perfect and it took like two minutes after that.

The problem is that the same road has two different names; the one listed on Mapquest and the one listed on its street sign. Apparently only natives know this.

We came home Tuesday (in the snow for about 3 of the 6 hours).

Glad you are safe!!

Tina said...

Lost alone in the sketchy part of DC? Man...that is frightening! I'm glad you're safe!