Winter Driving

On my way home from a friend’s house last night, in the dark, I happened upon a car that was stuck on a hill with a person behind the steering wheel and one person behind the car pushing it. There wasn’t much I could do, so I continued on my way. This got me thinking about past situations that involved having trouble getting home on bad roads in winter. All before cell phones! I think our town does a good job maintaining our roads in winter and in mud season and in recent years we have had fairly good snow tires, but there have been times in the past when our cars haven’t been the greatest and our tires just OK. This is just the way it was back then.

Our road has a nice hill just after a sharp curve and it is tricky on occasions not being able to get enough momentum to get up the hill. Fortunately, a neighbor built a house about half way up the hill with a driveway that has come in handy on more than one occasion. When, after trying to get up the hill two or three times and finally knowing you aren’t going to make it, you can either pull into the driveway and use their phone or leave your car there and walk home (2 miles). The other option was to drive around to the other end of the road which is closer to our house, go as far as you can, leave your car there and walk home which includes a stretch of road that isn’t plowed in winter. There were times when our son would have to stand on the rear bumper of the car for weight to get the car up the hill. This usually worked. We often drove Volkswagens that did amazingly well under bad conditions. I remember making it up the hill, only to find out that the road was so drifted I couldn’t tell where it was. I would be pushing snow with the front bumper so visibility was 0, having to roll down the driver’s window, look out the side and figure out where the road was by the trees alongside the road. One time Gael couldn’t make it home, and the next morning we walked down the road only to find the car completely covered by a snow drift. There was a time when we drove a VW pickup truck and in the middle of a bad storm, Gael drove over to a neighbor’s house with a long driveway that was unplowed. The neighbor was so impressed with the truck, he went out and bought one himself. There was one VW that we drove briefly (a Joe Kaelin car) that was so rusty we often had more snow in the car than was on the road. When the school bus started coming up our road, the road conditions got a little better, although we lived about a mile from the bus stop.

By the time our kids were old enough to drive, they had seen almost every kind of road and winter car problem and, surprisingly, managed quite well under bad conditions. They couldn’t call home quickly, no cell phone or AAA back then. Now, as adults, they can handle most situations very well, although they all have their phones and AAA now. Hopefully, they have passed some of their experiences along to their kids.

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