I have never liked rollercoasters or any other scary rides in amusement parks. I also have never liked Highway 50 here in Sacramento either.
(Actually, Highway 50 stretches 3,000-plus miles all the way from California to Maryland…but that is another ride that I’m not going on anytime soon.)
It is easy for me to stay away from rollercoasters since I rarely go to amusement parks. And if I do happen to go to one, I’m the gal who sits on a bench and holds everyone else’s stuff while they are mixing up their stomach contents.
And in the 15 or so years that I’ve lived in Sacramento, I’ve been pretty successful at avoiding Highway 50. I don’t freeways, so I usually take surface-street routes when possible. Highway 50 is one of the ugliest highways that I’ve ever seen, so even if other routes are slower and take longer, at least there are usually interesting things to look at.
Yesterday, however, was one of those days that taking the 50 was quite possibly the only way to get where I needed to go.
First, I got lost getting to the freeway entrance ramp…I took a wrong turn at some point (since, of course, I rarely get on the 50)…and thus was on the road for 20 extra minutes before I finally found my way to the Eastbound entrance of the ugly gray death-trap.
My destination was El Dorado Hills, another place that I have been very good at avoiding for 15 years. But duty called, so to speak….
So I got my little car going east in an ugly gray middle lane, chugging along, not even speeding. I noticed that there was quite a bit of traffic for a Saturday morning.
Suddenly, out of the corner of my right eyeball, I saw, like, right NEXT TO ME, a large SUV moving into my lane. That is to say, a large SUV moving right toward my car…ME.
So instinctively, I swerved to the left.
Now usually when something like this happens, the swerve is enough. The other motorist is startled back into their own lane and all is well.
But much to my dismay, this time my car began to spin out of control…and spin…and spin for what seemed like an eternity…across two lanes of ugly gray highway.
I had my foot on the brake and my fingers around the steering wheel in a death grip. As the car spun toward the shoulder of the freeway, my primary thought was, “Well it looks like I’m going to a hospital.” (Another kind of place that I try to avoid….)
So I kind of relaxed my neck and waited for the crash and then….
…the car stopped…stopped on the shoulder of the road in a pile of dirt…perfectly parallel with the freeway and far enough away from the righthand lane. Oh…and my car was facing the oncoming traffic.
It was surreal, to say the least. The car was okay, I was okay, my canine passengers were okay. The cars continued to speed past me as if it were perfectly normal for motorists to see a car parked on the side of the road facing them.
Only one person stopped to see if I was okay (thank you Dale whoever and wherever you are) and he was not the a-hole who had almost plowed into me.
I was experiencing a mild case of shock but as I sat there dazed and grateful (and surprised) to be okay, I realized that there was no way that I could turn around and get going back in the right direction without being pulverized by the endless speeding stream of cars whizzing past me.
So, thank god for my cell phone, I called 911 and the Highway Patrol was there in a jiffy. (That was about the time that passing motorists finally actually slowed down to see what was going on.)
I stuffed one of the flustered canines back into the rear seat, buckled up and when the CHP officer gave me the high five, I made a U and “sped off” at a nervous 50mph.
And it was damn cool to see that wall of dadgum cars stopped way, way back there by the CHP black and white…all for little ol’ me.
I do not know how my car stopped the way it did. One of the medics who responded just in case said that I was “either a damn good driver or just plain lucky.” Huh…. I grew up driving in Los Angeles, so maybe that gave me an edge. And luck…I dunno…. An angel maybe? (Bill, was that you?!)
But I guess I don’t really need to know “how”…I just need to be grateful….
©March 2011 by Phyllis J. Hanniver
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