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CLEVELAND-WINTER_2004

This last week has brought the coming of a new car, the parting of an old car and lots and lots of snow.

Actually, the new car was purchased two weeks ago, but the story wasn’t finished until the old car was gone. The old 1996 Dodge Neon left us early in the morning last week and was hauled across town to my in-laws. It had been a long time coming, but with the snow that impacts the East Side we needed to wait for a good day. That good day came with a warm sun and 40 degree morning.

In Cleveland, 40 degrees is a heat wave.

Now, for the first time in over a year we have two cars that function and can live in the garage happily away from the snow.

In Cleveland, the weather is strange. With Great Lake Erie just a stones throw from us, it can either be your friend or your worst enemy. In the winter, arctic wind from the Northern reaches of Canada blow Southeast over the lake. These fronts pick up moisture from Lake Superior and Lake Huron, and even more from Lake Erie and by the time these fronts make landfall they are ripe with snow.

I live on the West Side of the city. Having moved here from a small town an hour south, I chose wisely with this location. Here on the West Side the lake protects us. We can get the cold and the snow, but it’s usually nothing more than a sprinkling. Rarely will we see more than a foot. And on a really bad day, two feet. But the East Side is a whole other story. You can see the shift in the weather with a simple half hour drive East. I witnessed the change just recently, a winter storm bringing ice and snow didn’t even graze my neighborhood, but after fifteen minutes I crossed the Ohio Valley and witnessed the dramatic change. As I passed over the Valley View bridge visibility literally went down to only about a mile. From the sunny West side, I drove right into the Lake Effect Snow.

There are two major highways within the city that will take traffic from the East to the West. There is I-480, the outter belt, which is the one I use, or there is the inner belt I-90. If you are a Clevelander you have just rolled your eyes. I-90 has always been a mess, if you doubt me, I sight the following video of someone passing through. You’ll start to understand around the 2:50 mark. This video is loaded with interesting facts about the freeway, so if you’re not from Cleveland watch the whole thing. This video takes you from my side of town, through downtown and out to the East Side. Around the 3:55 mark you will see Dead Mans Curve.

But that pails in comparisson to OH-2. This is my most hated highway and I avoid it like the plague. Just before the 2:00 mark on this video you will see off the the left a grassy knoll. On July 4th, this entire streatch of the highway will be shut down and my friends and I, along with about 200 other people will populate that knoll to watch the fireworks. Once the highway is shut down, the horse cops will ride up and down the highway, and if you are lucky you’ll get a change to pet the horses. Next year I will bring some carrots and ask them if I can feed their horses. At the 2:50 mark, pay attention to the buildings on the right and imagine actually driving this route while trying not to crap your pants.  At the 3:25 mark you will pass the newly built Cleveland Brown Stadium on the left where our football team continues to fail to this day. Immediately followed by the Cleveland Science Center next to it.

And if your still interested in what it’s like to live in Cleveland, here’s a really good example of our love hate relationship with our football team.

From 7am to 9am and 4pm to 6pm you can forget about getting anywhere in a timely manner. All highways are backed up with bumper to bumber traffic. The most annoying part is there is never a reason for it. Once you get through it, there’s no accident, just all of a sudden everyone remembers they are on the highway and they can go places. Which is why, if you are planning to go across town you have to schedule yourself accordingly. If I need to go to work during the rush hour, what would only take a half an hour in the afternoon usually takes over an hour, so I always leave giving myself an hour for the idiots. If you time it right you can beat the rush hour entirely, or you can wait it out. When it’s snowing, there’s no beating any of it.

This winter has been mild compared to some. Our first winter in Cleveland the snow and ice was so bad we could barely leave the house without fearing for our lives. What we got on the West side was doubled on the East Side, and tripled by the time the Lake Effect Snow hit the next county. Over the years we have received milder and milder winters, with this one being probably the warmest of them all.

Rufus does not like the winter. He turns into a big baby when the cold weather starts to blow in, I think he remembers his years of living outside without a mommy. Ezio has never known that life, so when the first snow fall came in I waited until the ground was well coated in about six inches, then I put him in his little kitty harness and took his furry little butt outside. My husband was busy shoveling the driveway and laughed when he saw his furry companion in my arms.

Poor little guy was shivvering the moment we stepped outside. He tried his hardest to borrow deeper into my hoodie, but I was not having it. Since moving in with us, the only thing little Ezio can think about is what is beyond that door. He really wants to go outside, so I was inclined to teach him a lesson. I placed him in the snow and let him sit there and think about it for a moment. He backed up into my feet and cried for a moment until I felt bad enough to take him inside. He has never tried to leave the house since.

And with that, Gentle Reader I leave you for the day, wishing you clear skies, clear roads and little snow (if you live in a region that snows. And if you don’t, then I officially hate you.)

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