Cawley: A frightful freeway foray

Here’s some advice. Don’t try driving three hours back to your hometown during a snowstorm.

For some, that might seem like a no-brainer, but I learned it the hard way a couple of weeks ago during the first snowstorm of the season.

As a Connecticut native, I decided to head home for the weekend. Little did I know that, despite the Greater Boston area only expecting a couple of inches of snow, western Massachusetts and Connecticut were getting slammed by a surprising amount of the fluffy white stuff.

I was driving into heavier snow the farther west I got. If I had called ahead, I would have learned that my hometown was buried under about a foot of snow by the time I took off, although the forecast only called for a couple of inches.

My vision of a relaxing weekend with friends and family soon transformed into another reality. Driving conditions were terrible on the highway, which hadn’t been salted or touched by plows.

Snow covered the roads, which made seeing what lane you were in difficult. Drivers, like myself, were struggling. After driving for about an hour and a half, my Toyota Camry was fighting a losing battle, as snow got caught in the windshield wipers and the car was sliding along at 15 mph.

I was caught in a tough predicament, halfway from where I should have stayed put in Lynn and from where I shouldn’t been headed in the first place in Connecticut. I needed an actual shelter from the storm.

Luck was on my side as the next exit was a rest stop in Charlton, and I was never so happy to see a parking lot and a McDonald’s. The night was not a glamorous one, as I got to the stop around midnight and resigned myself to staying there until the storm calmed down.

I wandered into McDonald’s, somehow managed to mistakenly order both chicken tenders and chicken nuggets, and watched two men fight over some car crash that took place between them in the parking lot.

While this was occurring, I exchanged an uncomfortable glance with a girl around my age, who I later learned also got caught in the storm on her way back home and pulled over at the rest stop.

After two hours, the snow thankfully turned to rain, and roads were better. I abandoned plans for a weekend away and hightailed it back toward Lynn, getting back to my apartment at 4 a.m., where I was grateful that a poor decision ended with my safe arrival home.

The next time there’s snow in the forecast, I’m staying off the roads.

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