It's Friday March 2nd. It's Western Michigan University's Spirit Day! What is this Spirit Day you ask? Why it's a day where we wear all out WMU apparel, go forth across the campus and cheer on our beloved Broncos! It's a day to show our school spirit! It's a day...
Okay, it used to be a university holiday for the day before Homecoming. Which is a Saturday sometime in the Fall Semester, because Homecoming has a football game. But this is March? And Spring Semester?
Okay, so a few years ago the administration rearranged some things on the calendar and Spirit Day got moved from Fall to Spring Semester, probably about the time they renamed Winter Semester to Spring Semester. No Homecoming, no football game, no droves of happy alumni wandering campus amidst grumpy college students who needed a little lesson in school spirit.
Okay, so in the current system Spirit Day doesn't mean a damned thing anymore, except as an early start to next week's Spring Break.
There, are you happy how?
A Day Off
So Mrs. Dr. Phil had a workshop at Lansing Community College's West Campus for Friday March 2nd, and since Dr. Phil had the day off due to Spirit Day, the unofficial start to Spring Break, I cheerfully volunteered to drive her and packed up the old laptop for a day of pounding keyboards and getting some writing done.
Sigh, another morning of getting up before the old "usual" time, since we needed to hit the road by 7am. Unfortunately, it looked as though hitting the road this morning might involve bouncing. It's been rain, freezing rain and snow for the last day, and the temp had dropped below freezing last night. North of us was having a winter storm watch -- the U.P. was having a blizzard warning with 50 mph winds.
The driveway is a rutted mass of ice and rotted snow. 4WD is not only necessary, it's a touchy piece of driving to get up and down the driveway right now. Hope UPS doesn't have to deliver anything today.
By the time we got to Lake Michigan Drive, M-45, the road looked wet but I couldn't tell if it was slippery. Thinking that perhaps it'd been salted, I pushed the 2WD button on the 1996 Blazer and within seconds we began slewing around. Okay, so maybe we'll go back to 4WD on a main highway. But this was not a good sign.
The forecast was for the worst of the storm to be along I-96 and north. The stretch of I-96 between Coopersville (Exits 16 and 19) and Marne (Exits 24 and 25) is frequently a place of wrecks and slideoffs, and there were some of those on the Grand Rapids traffic reports already. So the plan was to go down to the M-6 freeway and go along the south side before linking up with I-96 past the airport.
Road crews were salting from Allendale on east. But even that didn't stop cars from being parked in interesting locations and angles along M-45. Wilson Avenue, M-11, was worse. Traffic and road conditions got the speed down to 20-30 mph. At this rate, we'd never make it to Lansing for 9am.
What was unknown was the road conditions between Lansing and Grand Rapids -- maybe it was better. Maybe Spirit Day still meant something. Maybe the WMU Broncos would win the NCAA Division I March Madness basketball tourney. All possible things -- and a nod of the head to the Broncos who had a good game last night in the MAC tourney and might make it to the NCAA's again this year -- but otherwise not bloody likely.
When they started to report a rollover crash on I-96 near Lowell, we decided this was stupid. Wind and snow all day, we wouldn't make it to Lansing on time -- if we made it at all -- and then there'd be the drive home. I turned around and took Mrs. Dr. Phil back to her office.
Playing With Mere Mortals
You know how when you get sick and finally call the doctor's office, that between making the appointment and sitting in the waiting room you miraculously feel better, while feeling foolish for being a wimp? Northbound traffic on Wilson was light, the lane was clear and the snow had stopped. An Omen? An invitation from the weather gods that we'd made a bad choice and should turn around again? Fuck no -- the weather gods were just messing with us.
Getting home, the roads were even more slippery than before -- the anti-lock brakes got a good workout and I watched The Neighbor's Pickup slew around on our road as they pulled out of their driveway to wait in The Across Neighbor's driveway for the school bus.
I am convinced that this long run of wintry weather is a direct result of The People having lost Their Way. They just don't set up altars and pray to the weather gods anymore. Disrespected, the weather gods have decided to play havoc with us. There, you happy yet?
A Silver Lining
I do have to say that road conditions sucked pretty bad today. Not sure if I'd have wanted to make it to K-zoo today, and if it hadn't been Spirit Day, then we might've had Exam 2 today -- and no one would've made it. (grin)
We'll take the good, the bad and the ugly. What else can we do?