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Willi Nilli: Bad weather driver

When I celebrated my 27th birthday in November, it also marked my eleventh year of having my driver's license.

In those 11 years, I have driven in my fair share of bad weather. Sometimes it was because I had to. Other times it was because I was too stubborn to let the weather and road conditions dictate when I could or couldn't drive.

When I first got my license I remember myself being rather cautious when it came to driving around on roads that were anything but dry or were overcrowded. However, the years of driving back and forth from Hudson to Fargo, and more recently from Hudson to Worthington, Minn., and Iowa, have made me feel more confident in my driving skills.

Like most others, I hate driving during the winter months when I need to get somewhere, but the weather is doing everything in its power to make sure it takes as long as possible to get to where I need to be. Don't get me wrong, as I've said before, I love winter and the snow it brings. I've loved having so much snow this winter and I'm looking forward to getting more before the season is over. But I'm starting to really get tired of driving in two to three inches of snow and hoping that my car can make it up the next hill without sliding back down.

In my 11 years of being behind the wheel of my Ford Taurus and now my Ford Escape, I have only gone off the road one time, not including last week when I managed to put the truck into the ditch on the side of our driveway. I'm not sure if that is mostly dumb luck or skill, but that track record has made me more willing to drive more boldly even when the weather isn't the greatest.

The one time I went off the road was on the way home from Fargo one winter night with my old Taurus. I was going at the speed limit, which was 70, but hadn't noticed that the road was covered in black ice. I had slowed down just before my spin out because I felt my wheels spin a little, but when I got the wheels back under control, I lost them for good and spun around three or more times before ending up in the ditch a good 50 feet from the road. The car was fine and I wasn't hurt at all. If it hadn't been for the chance that I could have rolled the car, the spinning would have been kind of fun, like a ride at the carnival.

Luckily, AAA got a tow truck to me in within a short time and got me back on the road.

The worst weather I've driven through was on my way back to Worthington after spending the night at my friend's apartment in Fargo. That was one of those times that if I hadn't had to be at work that afternoon, and had heard the advisory to stay off the highway sooner, I wouldn't have made the trip. But with me being my stubborn self had to keep going no matter the fact that I couldn't see the road because of the snow covering it and, even worse, the wind blowing even more snow across my field of view every 10 to 20 seconds. Luckily I was able to get behind a big truck that seemed to know what it was doing, so I followed it most of the way back to Worthington. It took at least two hours longer to get home than it should have, but at least I never went off the road and made it home in one piece. What I wouldn't have given for a good audiobook during that trip.

Most recently, the trip to and from Hawarden, Iowa, for Christmas was rather frustrating with the rain and snow coming down pretty hard on the way to Hawarden and then the wind trying to blow me off the road on the way home on Christmas Day. It wasn't the worst weather I've driven through and I was able to go at a decent speed, but it has been a winter of bad driving days for myself and my wife on our trips to and from our families' homes.

So, to say I'm glad that this week will finally see us warming up to above 30 — which will hopefully melt the ice and packed snow off of our driveway and the roads — and possibly have a few days in a row where we see the sun more than just an hour or two a day before more bad weather or clouds roll in.

I'm also hoping that the good weather sticks around for a while for the next couple of trips my wife and I are taking with her Science Olympiad team.

I'm going to make sure I have plenty of audiobooks just in case we end up having to drive slowly because of the weather.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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