That's what goes through your mind as you're flying off the road into a snow bank. It happens to everyone at least once at some point or another... some people are lucky enough not to have it happen often or in any dangerous spots.
Me? Well, I'm lucky -- both in a bad way and a good way.
On my way into Fairbanks at dawn yesterday, the roads were a bit slick because it has been a little warm and we had thaw/freeze ice in some parts. I was already driving slowly when I came around a blind curve and almost ran smack into a grizzly bear in the middle of the road. Luckily for both of us, there was a patch of ice right there and I skidded off into a ditch on the shoulder instead of plowing into Mr. Bear. He took off into the woods and I managed to muscle my way out of the ditch with judicious use of 4WD and forward-reverse rocking.
The Weather Liars, well LIED, again, as usual. Those light intermittent snow flurries were neither light or intermittent; but I was already half-way to Fairbanks and we really needed to pick up G's asthma meds (I am really getting PO'd at the pharmacy right now!) so I continued onward. Ok, so the snow lightened up closer to town and it was pretty warm when I got there... so maybe there was hope.
Haha - NOPE. About an hour through my combat shopping it started to snow in Fairbanks... hard. So I powered through the rest of the mandatory shopping and beat it out of town. The plows were running on the main part of Elliott Hwy, so that looked promising. Unfortunately, the truckers going to and from the oil fields don't care about the plows, and one nearly creamed me since he'd swung out into the oncoming lane to plass the plow at a not-so-ideal stretch of the road. OK - no worries, crisis averted there.
But, the plows hadn't made it to the unpaved portion of the Elliott and it had evidentally been snowing all day... and it was starting to snow even harder. Great... this was going to be a long, slow trip. So, I'm tooling along at maybe 30 (tops), taking it nice and easy on the curves and hills, when all sudden, for no obvious reason whatsoever, Sonja decides that she just really wants to go left right now. So, wham, there we go right off the road, into the ditch with snow up past the runner boards. To make matters worse, there was a ledge about 3 feet away with a medium drop-off. I probably wouldn't die if I went off that ledge, but I definitely would roll the truck and then slide down the rest of the hill. So, I tried a little 4WD rocking... no dice, she was totally dug in and my efforts were making her creep slowly toward the ledge. All the trees that were strong enough for me to winch myself out with were down hill. Great, time to start shoveling and hope someone came by soon.
And, of course, guess what I'd taken out of the truck and forgotten to put back in... you guessed it, the shovel. Not to be paralyzed by such a monumental screw up, I started digging by hand with a tupperware bowl. About 30 minutes later some folks from Minto came past and we started digging her out properly with their shovels. About 10 minutes later, my neighbor's uncle and cousin came past and they decided to try and tug me out with our tug straps. So, we tried tugging me backward downhill. Ewwww... no dice! That just put me even closer to the ledge since the tires were dug in so deep I couldn't turn the wheel, and there was enough resistance that he was starting to skid all over the road behind me. So, back to digging.
And they wouldn't let me help :( I don't know if it was because I was a girl, or that I appear so small and frail, or because I'm a Cheechako, or just because I was the one in trouble. Watching other people work on my behalf while refusing to let me help really makes me feel bad. But we did eventually get her dug out and back on the road. Since I'd just come from shopping, I offered them whatever groceries they might want from the bounty in thanks for their help... but only a couple accepted a drink. Gosh, now I really felt bad.
I made it home, driving even slower since it was snowing even harder. And that's when I fell apart for a few seconds... because even where I was, I could really have died going off the road like that. If I'd gone off just another half-mile up the road, I would have been where there was almost no shoulder and gone off down a very steep drop-off that would really have punched my ticket. Sometimes being able to remain totally calm and methodically detached during an emergency situation has it's drawbacks... total emotional and adrenal meltdown once you're safe and the crisis is over.
Needless to say, I'm not driving into Fairbanks again until after Breakup. I'll break the law and illegally mail order G's meds if I have to... I'm NOT going through that drive again! And, next year, I'm just going to seriously stock up on everything, get his meds sorted out, and plan not to go into town at all between October and April (which was the original plan before getting the dog and having issues with the pharmacy).