Sunday, January 24, 2010
Safe and Sorry
I was away at a training retreat for work this week high above the little Podunk town of Banning California, off Highway 243, in Idyllwild. Despite horrid weather conditions we traveled anyway rather than holding retreat in Long Beach. 5 minutes after our arrival on Wednesday, it began to snow- it rained and stormed and felt like the wind might blow our cabins away.
We were set to return home on Friday. We began the slow descent around 10 a.m. My car began sliding off the road on a few icy turns leading to a side-on collision with a guard rail, which protected us from a 500 foot drop to Never Never Land. Thanks goodness the railing was there.
We were towed down the mountain, yes, me and 4 passengers- still in my car, riding at a 45 degree angle. Thank you AAA man #1. We got on the 60 W and made the interchange to the 91 W. It had begun to rain again. All my passengers were now sleeping. I attempted to clear my mind while listening to the melancholic crooning of Keane, trying to be thankful that my car,(pictured above- pre-accidents), was still drivable and everyone unharmed.
Minutes later, I hydroplaned at 50mph into the center divider waking everyone up with my shouts of terror just before impact. We hit the divider, flew 3 feet in the air, slammed back down to the ground, and went sailing ahead, still uncontrollably, for about 30 feet before the popped front wheel managed to create enough resistance to stop us-maybe our halt was angelic, both were most likely responsible.
A CHP officer pulled up behind us within 5 minutes and helped us pull over to the side of the road. We called AAA again. A man arrived, threw a spare onto my car and said in a hurried tone,"gotta go!" Another wave of relief began to wash over me- Wow! My car is STILL drivable! After all that, it's really ugly, but drivable!
However, it turns out that the underpinnings of my steering/wheel system were twisted and bent, so when I attempted to drive my car again, with the wheel turned all the way to the left, I was still moving right.
My passengers, once again protected from injury, were picked up by the last drivers from our group to reach the bottom of the mountain- I rode the last hour home with Joe the tow truck man, Great White trailing behind us in all her new found glory.