The following is the journal entry that I transcribed regarding my 2006 experience of a sudden ice storm that paralyzed the Seattle area for one night. I edited, revised, and seemingly made it easier to read.
This occurred thirteen years before Seattle had 2019 #Snowmaggeddon!
Below is my almost 20 hour (19hrs 56mins) odyssey from Costco Travel in Issaquah to my home in Bothell and the 26 miles that separate it…
“Home, Sweet, Home”
November 27th 2006
Left work to start my commute home. Since it had rained/snowed earlier I knew my traffic would be delayed. I just didn’t realize what the Gods of Lunacy had in store for me…
Two hours into my usual 1.5 hour, I was near 160th St SW on I-405 NB. I sat there for 15 minutes with no movement. I made the fateful call to bail off the freeway and brave the surface streets to home. Now to fully appreciate the situation, you must know that accessing Bothell from the Woodinville is like connecting via Hong Kong on a Seattle-Los Angeles flight.
It was dark, cold and starting to freeze the water on the roadway. I started to make my way east up the 160th hill. W/ tires spinning, rear end at a 45 degree angle and 20,000 miles less on my tires, I summited. I turned to left to go down the hill street. The nose of the car came over the crest and started sliding. Sheet o’ ice. I tried to stop. I manage to plow into a small snow bank on the right w/ the tires. *whew* Screw this. I manage to turn this tank around on a inclined skating rink. Don’t ask me how I did it.
New plan. Go back to the damn freeway!
As I’m 6th car in line, I might just make it… I exclaim, “Hold da door. DOT & WSP closed the ramp – too dangerous.” I think, AWESOME! Now they are turning around the cars to get them off the ramp. LOVELY.
Nevermind. New route! 160th to 100th to Lake City way to Hwy 527 to home! Got to Lake City Way – easy enough.
Then I find myself stuck again #homesweethome is seemingly too far away.
My wife calls to ask where am I? I grumbled, “Mere car lengths to joining the pile of cars turning left onto Hwy 527.”
Charlene inquires, “Do you see the Hwy 523 sign to head into Woodinville?”
“Yep,” I answer. I’m almost 4 hours into this adventure, I’m damn near delirious.
She directs me, “Go there. Circumvent this mess and hop on 405. You should be north enough.”
I motor along as per the wifey. WSP closed off both directions of the 405 ramps at the very interchange Charlene directed me to. WTF?! NO choice, I must continue into Woodinville. I’ll cut over to entrance. YES!
Charlene calls to inform me while I am waiting that I-405 North has been closed at Highway 527. OMG! *insert a Denis Leary tirade here*
Luckily I’m literally at the driveway of a Residence Inn in Bothell. I park, and walk up as they should have rooms…
A grumpy employee barks at me immediately, “NO vacancy. Don’t try Springhill Suites either, full.”
I mentally grumble, “You’re full of it.” I clamor back in the car. I spy the backroads!! I’ll heroically navigate the narrow, dark, icy roads to 228th and get to Hwy 527 and to home. 5 hours in, now this is a personal damn vendetta. I’m getting home tonight! I am living the Sawyer Brown cover song, Six Days On The Road.
My friend, Sidney Nettleton nee Gruenich and Charlene are genuinely concerned about my safety. Each of them have been calling on and off throughout this adventure to check on me.
They should have been concerned about my sanity in hindsight.
I’m on the threshold of hell. I’m beyond tired, hungry and frustrated. Home, Sweet, Home is not looking like a possibility at this point.
The reports of closed highways is longer than the ones open as I listen to the car radio. I get out of my car to survey the situation. I’m not certain why it would provide me clarity more so than through the windshield.
Moments later, Charlene calls to inform me that I have a room at the Willows Lodge in Woodinville for tonight. She almost pleads with me to return to the car.
I say aloud, “I can walk home from this point. I could abandoned the car, right?”
Cooler heads prevail; all Charlene.
I claw my way BACK the way I came from Woodinville (haven’t I seen this hill before). By the grace of God, my Mom’s heavenly help, Charlene’s voice on the end of my mobile (thank Christ I bought a car charger – no battery charge left) guiding me in, and some mad skills behind the wheel I get to Hwy 202. Almost there!
I arrive at Willows Lodge. The parking lot, and reception area are littered with awkwardly parked cars.
As I stride through the lobby, and up to the check-in desk, Colton and Antoinette have my room keys ready.
Sweet Jeezus! I call Charlene to advise I’m safe but not sound. At least I’m safe and off the road.
I hang up the phone. I mentioned to the desk crew I was hungry.
They cheer, “No problem, we have Chicken Margarita sandwich! And, we’ll gift you a FREE bottle of 2004 Cab-Sauvignon.”
I thank them, “Perfect.” I drag myself to the room with my food and wine craddled carefully in my arms.
I bust open the door. The ambiance has been set for a honeymoon couple, because this was the last room in the resort. I look at the time on the clock? 11:01 pm, 6.5 hours after I started my commute. The music playing is the song, “Let It Snow”.
Sing: “Oh, the weather outside is frightful…” Of course it is!”
Now I’m on the verge of heading out, and getting HOME!! Home, Sweet, Home H-O-M-E, should be me. I blaze outta the Willows Lodge parking lot with renewed confidence. The roads are great this morning – bare and wet. I pop through Woodinville again and make it to Highway 522 then easily to I-405. I motor up 405 to my exit, Number 26 / Hwy 527.
I’m buying some damn chains. A Les Schwab has oodles of them! They are on my way home, and a right-handed turn into their parking lot. I buy the remaining set left for my tires size: P205 / 55R16.
For almost an hour I struggle to test fit my chains. I gnash my teeth, “Are you kidding me?” Ron, the tech, politely and generously shows me how to put them on after watching me try my best. Apparently the last step wasn’t necessary and I could have easily been home by now.
I park my 2004 Acura RSX Type S in my driveway with chains on still. I am triumphant. Alive, not injured, with no damage done to the car after 20 hours but home nonetheless. Home, sweet, home.
I open the front door with bags in hand. Charlene appears at the top of the stair, and exclaims, “You’re home!”
Yes. Yes, indeed.