warning: file_exists(): open_basedir restriction in effect. File(/var/www/vhosts/glencoenews.com/httpdocs/../ad_/ad_cache_.inc) is not within the allowed path(s): (/var/www/vhosts/glencoenews.com/httpdocs/:/tmp/) in /var/www/vhosts/glencoenews.com/httpdocs/sites/all/modules/ad/adserve.inc on line 160.

A snowy venture to International Falls

By Rich Glennie
I did it again. I didn’t listen to my wife. Surprise!
I traveled (alone) to International Falls in the dead of winter last week. She refused to go along (again). She also warned me not to go. Temperatures were hovering near zero for highs and lows in the teens to 20 below up north. That part I can handle.
What I didn’t know until the day before I left was a snowstorm, or more precisely a blizzard, was predicted. Folks, it was more than a prediction.
The trip is 350 miles one way. I always figured the halfway point is Cloquet. There I turn off 35W and head north to the Iron Range and International Falls. So far, so good. I did not see a single snowflake until I got north of Cloquet. Then I saw a lot of them … very close together.
By the time I got to Virginia, snow was coming down about two inches an hour with no end in sight. The 65 miles from Cloquet to Virginia were traveled at about 45 mph with hopes of being in my lane, let alone on the highway. Thank goodness for those rumble strips on the sides of the road and between lanes. They were like bowling alley gutter guards. Kept me on the road.
The snow was coming down so hard, so fast, that the highway was obliterated. Thankfully, someone had blazed the trail sometime before me and left ruts. If the vehicle was ahead of me, I couldn’t see it. Had those ruts gone into a ditch, I would have followed.
Not only was it snowing hard, the wind was blowing and drifting the light, fluffy stuff all over the place. Then I noticed most vehicles were heading south in the other lanes of traffic, suddenly popping in and out of the snow storm. I was the only vehicle heading north. What did they know that I didn’t?
I found out, it was snowing even harder the farther north I trekked.
I made the mistake of telling my wife before I left that if things got too bad, I’d turn around and come back or pull over and stop for the night. She knew I had no intention of doing either because, well, I’m a man and we don’t change our minds very easily.
So I plowed ahead as four inches became six inches, and six became eight. You get the idea..
By the time I got to Cook, 30 miles north of Virginia, I saw a snowplow ahead as it turned onto the highway in front of me. I thought, I’ll follow the plow. That thought lasted one block as the plow turned onto a city street in Cook and left me in the lead again.
It’s another 70 miles to International Falls, and I could sense my eyeballs touching the inside of my eyeglasses. My hands were cramping from gripping the steering wheel so tight.
But by the time I got to Orr, the snow miraculously stopped and the final 50 miles were like a breath of fresh air, about 2 above zero if I recall correctly.
I later heard the Iron Range had about a foot of snow that day, but the Falls only had about two inches. Their big snow came the next day.
One of the main reasons I went to the Falls was to pick up my daughter and take her to another doctor’s appointment in Duluth the next day. Before we left, we heard Duluth was expecting another foot of snow. Driving in snow on the steep Duluth hills is not a good combination.
The 150-mile one-way trip to Duluth went well until a few miles from Duluth. Then the snow gods dumped a heavy snowfall on the Port City, making the hills slick and hazardous.
The key to the whole trip? Slow down.
The biggest surprise? No, it was not the cold or snow. It was the gas prices in the Falls. They were 20 cents lower than in Glencoe!
What? In my many travels north, I have never seen lower gas prices in the Falls. Either I misread the gas signs from hours of staring into swirling snow or Glencoe drivers are taking one in the … pocketbook. Ouch.
Rich Glennie was the editor of The Chronicle for 23 years. He retired Aug. 1, 2014.