I had a bit of an accident last night driving home from northern Cape Breton. Through the day, I kept monitoring the weather. It was bad, but not so bad to turn home early. Coming down the south side of Smokey Mountain just after sundown, it quickly went from kinda bad to stupidly bad.
The snow covered the road in a thin, slippery sheet. Months of passes by the snow plow have built great banks along both sides of the road. I tried to keep my speed as slow as possible, but I watched as momentum pulled the needle from 40 to 50 to 60. I dared not touch the breaks for fear of skidding.
The road slowly curved to the right. On my right was the mountain. On the left, not the mountain (read: scary dropoff).
There's no mistaking the feeling when you lose control of your vehicle. I could feel the back wheels start to drift. The back end of the car was coming around and I could tell it wanted to become the front.
At this point, a scene from Henry's favourite movie popped into my head: Pixar's "Cars." The scene where the old, gruff race car teaches the hot, young punk about 'push' steering: "If you turn your wheels far enough to the right, sooner or later you're going to start to turn left."
The car was now sliding nearly perpendicular to the sides of the road. I turned the wheel as hard as I could to the right. Sure enough, the front end slowly started taking control and moving left. It was, however, too late to avoid a crash. In the split second before I went into the drift, I thought to myself, "I wonder what this will feel like?"
The bank was probably 2 metres high. I splashed right through it. Most of the way, anyway. It was a reasonably soft landing. Nothing was broken on the car but I was seriously stuck. Even my all-wheel drive couldn't move me out.
I sat for a few minutes before calling roadside assistance. The woman in the call centre in some not-Cape Breton location had a hard time understanding "Cabot Trail", "Smokey Mountain" and "Cape Breton." I spoke slowly. She eventually got it. She told me it would be a couple of hours before help would arrive.
She was wrong. About an hour later, a friendly Caper in an extended-cab pickup truck came by. He had tow cables and managed to pull me out with little effort. I thanked him about 300 times, but forgot to ask his name. Thanks, un-named stranger.
The worst part came 40 minutes later when my car drifted across St. Ann's Bay on the Englishtown Ferry. Unbidden, the (absolutely vile) song "Jesus Take the Wheel" came into my head. It would not leave.