Sounds like my Tuesday commute was similar to several others I heard about. Ever since the Athens incident in 82 I’ve tried to avoid the snow. Only in the past few years have I ventured out to work. With Tuesday’s forecast calling for light snow north of Atlanta I figured any commute home wouldn’t be too bad. I was wrong.
The powers that be closed the Norcross office at two, after dire reports from a co-worker headed to Acworth. I was one of the first out the door, and found no backups on Peachtree Industrial. When Spaulding backed up I successfully cut through the outskirts of Berkeley Lake over to Peachtree Parkway – which was slow both north and south. No problem. I stayed straight on East Jones Bridge to West Jones Bridge to Peachtree Corners Circle. I was happy to see traffic wasn’t bad there, or on Spaulding.
Holcomb Bridge headed west across the river was slow, but moving. Only when I neared the Chick-fil-a/Kroger/Studio Movie Grill did it slow to a snail’s pace. Knowing some alternate routes, I first tried hilly Barnwell. With only one lane passible, I cut through the Kroger shopping center. Worried about my quarter tank of gas, I filled up at Kroger ($2.079 – not bad).
Back on the road at 3:20, I found the same story on hilly Nesbit Ferry. A fire truck was helping cars that had slid off the road. I had planned to cut through a subdivision and come out at the new Target. Instead I cut through the Studio Movie Grill back to Holcomb Bridge. Since one lane of cars was trying to turn right from the shopping center, only one car was making it on each green. I went left so I could turn onto the left westbound lane – when the huge pickup behind me swung around and took my spot – leaving me stranded between the two lanes of traffic.
As traffic crawled westward I alternated listening to WSM AM750 and my book on CD. Called co-worker Tim, who was also headed west. Snacked on Cheerios, but I drank all the water I had. Ceil had gone to Publix earlier, making it home just before Johnson Ferry gridlocked. As the sun set and hilly Holcomb Bridge grew icy I found it harder and harder to concentrate on my book, so I finally stayed tuned to WSB. Considered stopping at a restaurant to wait for the traffic to thin. Glad I didn’t. Another co-worker header my way spent the night in a Holcomb Bridge Kroger.
Knowing Holcomb Bridge traffic was slowed by all the cars exiting 400, I knew my only chance to get home before midnight was to cut under 400 on Riverside/Eves Road/Old Alabama. I turned left on Eves, but the backed up traffic told me that the steep hill down to the river was impassible (later another driver confirmed this). I turned around, crossed over Holcomb Bridge, made a U turn, then made a right back on HB west.
Nerves were growing thin. Interesting demographic of drivers/makes of cars who were inconsiderent/selfish/stupid/put themselves before others – including a couple of cars with “In God We Trust” plates. I did have a nice chat with a CRV driver concerning my Eves Road thesis. Finally made my way into Martin’s Landing. Many cars were using the subdivision as a cut through from the river to HB. Luckily, few were headed my way. Had this route not worked I was ready to park my car and walk.
The roads were flat down by the river – but icy. Cars were sliding on Riverside, but I cruised past the Normans. Amazingly, I did not have to stop at the Roswell Road/Atlanta Street intersection. The light was green, and no cars were ahead of me. Then I had to follow a BMW driving VERY slowly. Made it over to Highway 120 with no problems. Almost home, I realize the hilly street I live on would be too slick. I would have to walk from the Catholic church. From time to time I was seeing reports of people walking, and of many teachers I knew staying at their school with students.
Turned on 120 and saw cars stopped headed up the hill. I quickly made the decision to backtrack and park at the Anytime Fitness at the corner of Willeo and 120. It was 6:30 pm – 4-1/2 hours into my trip. Pulled on a pair of warmups over my slacks, added a second jacket, changed into running shoes, and donned a stocking cap and two pairs of gloves. Slung my briefcase over my shoulder (my boss would be proud), and trudged up the hill.
Got a great view of the action on the hill. Some cars just couldn’t make it, including a Toyota minivan. Some guys were helping push. Two girls were checking to make sure everyone was ok. They asked me if I needed a place to stay. At the top of the hill a guy was locking his Civic that had run off the road. He walked down the hill with me to Kroger. He worked at the tire store next door, where he planned on spending the night. I ducked into Kroger to use the restroom for the first time in over five hours.
After I warmed up some I continued on. Traffic was light – very few cars were making it up the hill from Roswell. The cold wasn’t a problem – only my face was chilly. I stuck to the side of the road where the snow had been beaten down, so walking wasn’t too much of an effort. The snow was dry, so my feet didn’t get wet. After the huge uphill, then downhill to Kroger, I had another long uphill to my subdivision. Then the hills got slicker and steeper.
I stuck to the snowy yards, only to step out onto the road to avoid mailboxes and bushes. Sure enough, I eventually slipped. Instead of trying to catch myself, I let myself fall as softly as possible. Standing back up on the ice wasn’t simple, but I made it. Heard my phone ring three times, but it would’ve taken too much effort to take it out of my pocket with my big gloves on.
Walked in the door at 8 pm. Six hours – a lot better than many.