The Drive Along The Columbia River Gorge

The near miss on the Interstate

The first 2 hours of the drive was quite uneventful. There were patches of thick fog on the road in between. The traffic was very less. I had the car on cruise control and was maintaining around 70 or 72 mph (~110kmph). There was a pick up truck a little bit behind me whose head lights were occasionally blinding me and there was a car a little way behind me. 

All of a sudden there was a sudden heavy snowfall and snow started to pile up on the road. I instinctively canceled the cruise control and let the car slow down on its own while I had my feet slightly on the brake so that the tail lights stayed on for the cars behind to know that I’m slowing down. I saw the rear mirror and noticed that they were following suit. I would have slowed down to around 50 – 55 mph (75 to 80 kmph). The pickup truck on my side zoom passed me and I was amazed that the truck had so much grip even in these conditions. No wonder everyone is into them. Then I noticed that the tail lights of that truck were swaying a little bit and I while I was wondering what was happening there, all of a sudden that slight movement became a big arc. It was then that I realized that the truck had a spin out. 

I quickly put the hazard on and tried breaking ever so slightly so that I don’t end up in a spin out as well. Luckily I was already at a low enough speed and was not slipping on the snow from the braking and I could see that the people behind me noticed it as well and they were braking as well. While I could see the car spinning in front, I felt what I had seen happening in movies for the first time. Everything slowed down for a few seconds and it felt like I knew exactly what to do, which was to maintain the breaking and shift lanes as there was no one on that lane. I slowed down to a stop by the road side to make sure there was no incident behind and luckily everything was fine. The truck that spun out had stalled, but the passengers were fine and they seemed to be in control.

With adrenaline pumping, it was time to move again and this time, I started slowly and while I was gaining speed, the same truck zoomed past me again and just as I was wondering ‘really?’ it started fishtailing again and at that moment, I thought – ‘OK that’s it’ and I slowed down enough till that truck was far ahead of me. On the way I saw another truck that had crashed on the barricades but the passengers were fine and I could see a lot of emergency service vehicles racing on the opposite lane. The sudden snowfall seemed to have taken a toll on lots of cars.

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