Riding off into the sunset? Ha. Don't try it.
So in all the old Western movies, the hero rides off into the sunset at the end, to the plaintive pluckings of Home on the Range. Well, if Hopalong tries that around here, he'll be run over by a truck.
The other morning, I was driving off to work, going to a slightly different building for a change, and a little later than usual. I had driven this road a few days before, about 7 AM, and the sun was just thinking about rising directly over the center line. On this morning, however, it was after 8, and the sun was fully up. And it was a lovely, clear day, as most are. And the yellow ball was positively blinding. And traffic failed to adjust itself correctly to the conditions.
I came over a rise and the sun was right in the eyes. On the shoulder, two police cars were pulled over with two or three civilian cars, probably writing up a small accident. And then . . . and then the traffic in front of me stopped. Just that fraction of a second of distraction was all it took. The pickup in front of me stopped short. I stopped hard. The small car behind me stopped hard. (Everyone's anti-lock brakes got some exercise.) And, oops, the big pickup behind him didn't stop at all. Chain reaction, four vehicles. I was number 3. Well, my Hertzmobile was number 3. And my neck, unfortunately. Slight whiplash for the next four days.
The cops didn't seem the least bit surprised. In retrospect, I shouldn't be, either. Question: Where is the most likely place for an accident to occur? Answer: Where one has occurred before. Next question: So, I have to ask, why wasn't I extra super special careful as soon as I saw that accident? Answer: Because it all happened in about two seconds, and this line of reasoning takes just a little longer. But now it is firmly embedded in the brain.
I will avoid those roads in the future, when possible; and, when not possible, I will drive very, very cautiously. This was always true of the roads I knew to be dangerous in NH, or NJ, or other places I'd lived. Some roads just go directly into the sunrise or sunset at some seasons. Others are subject to black ice. It takes a while to learn where the bad spots are, but this one should have been really obvious. Du-uh.
The big pickup that hit us all had dual rear wheels. Several people said, "Oh, a duallie." Pronounced DYEW-lee. The standard local term, I guess.
The cop who wrote it up finally said, with irony and a shrug, "Welcome to Texas."