Winter’s chill throws salt on weekend trip, season

I’ve reached my breaking point with the winter season. It’s ironic, I guess, that this is happening now in one of the mildest winters I’ve ever experienced.

For years I’ve told myself I’d prefer to live somewhere temperate, an area that embraced all four seasons and a geographical location whose worst natural disaster would be a blizzard. That last one is just me thinking long term; I don’t want some earthquake, tornado, hurricane or volcano blowing my house to kingdom come.

But this is the last straw. Winter and its unpredictable weather have screwed up my plans for the last time.

This past Saturday, my roommate Phil and I had plans to head to Columbus, Ohio, to take in an Ohio State men’s basketball game. To date, I had only seen the team on television. I had also never been to Columbus, either. But this trip was supposed to change all that.

We awoke Saturday morning to the snows. I must have looked out the window a dozen times, counting each flake as it softly smothered the houses, the roads and Phil’s truck.

No matter, we’ll just leave earlier.

But we didn’t cast off as early as we should have. With five hours before the game started, the Dynamic Duo at last hit the road.

“My mom said it’s worse at home, and along the Lake,” I was already beginning to worry, but Phil had another route planned.

“Let’s go south toward Pittsburgh, then cut west to Columbus,” he reasoned. “There’s no way it’s as bad down there as it is here. We’ll avoid the storm.”

It was worth a shot. Driving on Interstate 90 was no picnic to begin with, so the alternate path down I-79 followed by a series of hopping from one highway to the next like Frogger seemed best.

For a while, the plan proved to evidence our navigational genius. As soon as we escaped Erie, the roads vastly improved, Phil pushed the gas pedal to 70 and we were making good time. We would make it. We would definitely make it.

Fast forward to I-76 east of Akron. We had reached Ohio, passed the city of Ravenna and Columbus was just a little more than two hours from us. We had three hours to get there before game time.

Then, traffic jam. And I mean JAM. Gridlock. Brakelights. Drivers putting their cars in park because they weren’t moving. We didn’t even inch down the highway; we crawled in centimeters. I learned later that the backup was the result of a 40-car pileup. Good news is there were no fatalities.

After we spent more than an hour and a half coasting less than a mile, we realized we weren’t going to make it to Columbus in time. Some lady driving in SUV in the other direction shook her hand out the window and pointed the opposite way we were going. That was all the evidence I needed.

So all the hope, hype, planning and awesomeness was gone. We spent the night at Phil’s parents’ in Stow and watched the game at Beef O’Brady’s. The Buckeyes lost badly too, only scoring 48 points versus Michigan State.

I didn’t even care about the loss. I was just upset that I had missed making the memory.

DAN KUBACKI

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