Day 3: Mildly Interesting
I'm not sure how fast news travels around my social circles, so I figure it might be wise to leave a first-person report of today's events. Yes, I hit something with my car on the way up. Yes, it was a mountain. Yes, I'm perfectly fine. I walked away from the accident without so much as a bruise. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's everything in the right order for today:
I woke up to find the weather on Wyoming worse than the night before. While we'd been relegated to sub-45mph travels due to high winds carrying enough snow to block lane markers, today was met with almost total snow blindness. I got maybe 45 miles in the first two hours, following in a cautious but close improv motorcade. After we crested the last mountains outside mile marker 120, things cleared up. Snow disappeared gradually and the sun came out. Wind, too, was largely gone. I relaxed and returned to the posted speed limit (five/ten under, surprisingly. While I'm not one to obey the speed limit, I was doing just that entirely be coincidence.)
Traffic spread out, the speedier people flew on ahead, and the heavier trucks fell behind. I crested one last mountain which, as it turns out, was responsible for the subsiding wind. As I reached the top my front wheels started to slide. I angled my wheels to my lane and released the gas pedal. My vehicle performed then a maneuver I will refer to now as, "The Terrifying Lateral Shimmy." It slid from the far right lane, still pointing forward, horizontally until the far left lane. As I was about to exit the far left lane I decided to press the brake and immediately regretted doing so. The car got back traction and headed in the direction I'd pointed it. Unfortunately, the direction I'd pointed it was much farther to the right than I anticipated. I corrected to the left and succeeded in swinging the back end more or less sideways, triggering a Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift style maneuver, except Paul Walker was dead and there was no Vin Diesel.
I recall thinking, "Huh. I've never been in a car accident before," just prior to hitting the center divide. The front passenger headline contacted the center divide at just under 70mph and rotated the vehicle across the passenger side doors. It did a tiny bounce and a totally sweet 180 before the rear tail light contacted the embankment.
I was fine. My indicator lights suggested I check the engine. I did not, in part because I don't know how and in part because I smelled something like gasoline, except more carcinogenic. (I'd come to understand that this is the smell airbags make when they deploy.) I got out, perhaps in violation of safety procedures, and did a quick check to make sure I didn't leave any debris which might hurt other drivers. There appeared not to be any. I got back in my car and phoned the police.
All cell conversations were a bit tricky, as this was scarcely in 1X signal territory. A passerby stopped. "That was awesome!" he said. "I know!" I responded. He offered a trip back into town, but I decided to try and deal with the highway patrol. After a dropped call, I phoned again. "Where are you?" "I have no idea. Possibly between Wyoming and Utah, west of Rawling on the 80W." "What mile marker?" "Not sure." "See if you can flag a vehicle and have them call it in." "Okay. I'll call you back."
By the time I'd gotten out of the vehicle, someone had already stopped. "That was awesome!" "Yeah. It was pretty sweet." "Are you hurt?" "Don't think so. I'm kinda' hungry." "Can I help?" "Yes, please. Could you call 911 and tell them the mile marker?" "Sure."
Before our conversation was wrapped up, another person stopped. "Are you okay?" "I'm okay, thanks. These people are helping me."
I got back in my car and called my insurance company. "I think the police are sending a tow truck. I'll call you back when they get here and do the report, but I figure I'd tell you. Seems like the sort of thing you'd want to know." "Thanks for calling. Is anyone hurt?" "No. I'm a little hungry." Then we went on.
After around half an hour, the officer arrived, tow truck in... tow. I shook their hands and introduced myself. The tow truck operator went to clearing the other bits of my vehicle from the center divide. He refused my help, but asked for my key. I gave it to him and he sat down in the car and started it. It didn't explode. Astonishingly, the car even managed to pull a U-turn and end up on the right side of the road where he could clear it without issue.
I ran through the motions with the officer. He was tremendously friendly. Pretty patient, too. I asked if I could try his gun. He said no. I did get a picture inside the squad car though.
Grizzled angry Rowsdower truck driver gave me a ride into town. The conversation was lively, considering I'd almost died and he was the reincarnation of Rowsdower. I need to make it a point to figure out how to relate with career tow truck drivers. Anyway, we ended up in a mountain town with a population of around five.
I sat at the local diner and dug around for a way to get a rental car. Nearest open place was around 15 miles away. Gave them a call to see if anything was available. The guy, Bob, said they had some open cars. Coincidentally, he was also across the street from me and could give me a ride. Holy shit.
I rented a minivan, (it seemed an appropriate upgrade from my effeminate grocery car) and drove back to the town to a choir of horns. Fuck all if I'm doing above 50 after that shit.
I transferred the goods from the Yaris to the minivan and sustained my first injury from the accident -- bumped my head on the rear view mirror while moving things.
Called the insurance company one more time and let them speak with Rowsdower for prosperity, allowing him to reiterate how awesomely totaled the car was, then jumped in the minivan and drove off like a madman on Xanax at well under the speed limit. Nine hours later, and I'm here in a hotel in Someplace, Utah, 8 hours from San Francisco.