Robert Kirby is battling a severe case of Olympic fever. This is a reprint of a previous column.
I blame what happened on television meteorologists, weatherheads paid handsomely to smile and lie about stuff like snow. I call them vile names whenever I see them on TV.
My favorite weather fabricator to yell at is KUTV-Channel 2’s Sterling Poulson. I have never forgiven him for ruining a trip into the West Desert years ago, when he forecast scattered thundershowers, and it rained clear up to our necks.
Meteorology isn’t like news reporting. There is actually something called weather. It isn’t entirely made up for the purpose of ratings. You can go outside and see it for yourself.
But how many times have you heard the words “scattered showers” and thought you could have a picnic anyway? What about those heavy snow warnings when you stayed up all night waxing your skis only to see a light frost in the morning?
So, when virtually every weather witch in the state announced a travel advisory Wednesday afternoon, it made perfect sense to drive to St. George anyway.
We left Salt Lake City at 3 p.m. By Provo, things were a little scary. Snow was coming down harder than we expected. Near Spanish Fork, traffic slowed to a crawl so everyone could rubberneck some accidents and cause some more.
At Nephi, we followed a big rig driver whose own trailer kept trying to pass him in the blinding snow. A pickup coming the other way skidded into the median and bounced a load of furniture into the air.
“Maybe we should pull over and find a motel or a barn,” my wife said as we spun 360s past Scipio.
What would have been welcome advice when we were dating was now a personal affront. I pressed on. No way was Sterling going to get the best of me again, even if it injured me and some other people.
By Fillmore, it was impossible to tell if we were on the freeway or driving in a field. Through the pounding snow, we glimpsed the Willie Handcart Company, the Donner Party and a herd of yeti.
I’m not sure when we passed Cove Fort. The windshield wipers had clogged and burned out. Progress was mostly sideways by then anyway.
Near Manderfield, we spotted a squashed Utah Highway Patrol car and a demolition derby collection of other vehicles in the opposite lanes. Wolves were eating the occupants.
As death regarded us in the maelstrom, I started to concede that Sterling wasn’t entirely wrong. Somewhere near Beaver, I was willing to acknowledge that he might be entirely right — just this once. A few horrifying miles later, he had become at least smart enough to graduate high school.
Down to 5 mph west of Japan, Sterling became a genius and my best friend. Why hadn’t I listened to him? I asked my wife to pin a note to my body begging his forgiveness.
The weather cleared when we hit Cedar City. The storm obviously wasn’t as bad as we thought. Certainly there was no reason for a major winter storm advisory.
By St. George, I began to see things more clearly. The sky was cloudless, balmy and I was 10 times smarter than Sterling again. Until it was time to drive home.