This past weekend was interesting for driving.

I went to Casey’s family’s holiday party on Saturday. There was an option to spend the night there, which was appreciated since snow was in the forecast. It wasn’t snowing in Exeter, so I figured I could probably make it back and it wouldn’t be too bad.

I left their home at about 2AM; it’s about 60 miles away from Cambridge.

The first 15 miles of the trip were at full speed, but then I noticed the air had the ‘sparkly’ look to it. Sure enough the closer I got to Cambridge the more snow I saw falling. Around 35 miles away there was accumulation on I-95 South. It must have been about 2:20AM; the skies were pink, the snow was failling, and the roads were empty. I continued to slow down as I got closer to Cambridge, since visibility decreased with snowfall and more snow had accumulated. I tried to seek out tracks left by previous cars to improve my vehicle’s traction.

There were times many cars were driving in lines and I found myself behind them; this actually felt less safe and I tried to avoid it. Vehicles were keeping very little distance between each other, and if someone lost control or braked suddenly there could have easily been a collision. Around 20 miles away from Cambridge there were parts of the highway where I had to drive behind one of the many plows because the snow had piled up too high. It was kind of fun being in these little trains of people being led by the big highway plows.

Many times on the highway I was driving underneath overpasses for smaller local roads. Since snow had just recently started to fall it seems the local authorities had just started to mobilize; each of these overpasses was filled end-to-end with the flashing yellow lights of snow-removal vehicles, waiting to be dispatched to their assignments. It was eerily beautiful.

Though it was late and night and I was alone, I think it was the best way to experience driving in snow for the first time. I had opportunities to experiment with vehicle acceleration, braking, and steering without concern for other motorists. I’m not convinced that my rear-wheel drive car is any worse in bad weather than a front-wheel drive car - it seems more likely to me that RWD car drivers tend to drive more rashly and drive more powerful cars, and FWD car drivers don’t know how to drive a RWD car.

The local roads in Somerville/Cambridge were quite a trip. Here I learned about stopping and starting from a dead stop. Turns were also an interesting experience. When I finally reached Broadway and parked my car (on Tremont Street because of the snow emergency status) it was about 3:15AM. There were no cars driving on the road and no cars parked on it. I spent about 15 minutes just enjoying the incredible silence and beauty of the snowy night. It’s something I haven’t experienced in a few years.

I’m sure I’ll enjoy it even more when I find my gloves.