“Describe the most difficult or challenging weather you have ever experienced?”
Turn left or go straight? It was our first winter in Raleigh, having moved down from southern Virginia in late July. Winter in Raleigh, North Carolina like in southern Virginia is generally quite mild. As I sat in the front passenger seat, watching the heavy snow’s rapid accumulation on the road ahead, I was quickly mapping out our possible routes home in my head.
My baby sister, who was about four or five years old, sat in the back seat. Dutifully she kept a close watch out the window, taking in the scene of falling snow, lines of slow pacing cars, and wailing sirens. Clearly in tune with mom and I, Sydney was old enough to understand the seriousness of our situation generally, but without comprehending the reasoning.
If we continue straight, we have about fifteen miles of a straight divided highway, with exactly two hills to overcome, before finding ourselves safely home. Turning left would provide a shorter trip of about eight miles down a two-lane road, but significantly more treacherous in these conditions.
We would first encounter a steep downgrade about five hundred yards long, followed by two miles of winding country road, which give way to three miles of straight travel, a relief except for the three short bridges, that have likely frozen over at this point. If we were to successfully navigate these obstacles, we would simply have one hill to climb and a quarter-mile stretch to get home. Of course both of these routes included backed-up, slow-moving traffic, and unplowed lanes.
Left or straight? Realizing the rapidly deteriorating road conditions, and the traffic that seemed to accumulate as quickly as the falling snow, we chose to turn right. We turned right into the entrance of the local Holiday Inn. After checking in, ordering pizza, and watching utter mayhem on the local news, we found ourselves safe, warm, and content, having turned right.