Snow Day, er… Week, er… Month(s)

by Jen on January 9, 2010

in Rant of the Week

This has certainly been the season for snow. Our first real snowfall wasn’t until December 5th, but oh, how the last month has made up for the late start. We live nestled at the base of a curve of mountains which create their own little micro-climate.  They hinder snow fronts from moving quickly through the area so we get several more inches than the surrounding areas.  Then they trap warming air so all the the snow thaws quickly.  And then the process starts again.  This means at any given time there isn’t necessarily an impressive amount of snow on the ground — although total snowfall amounts for the past month go well into the double digits, times four — but that we alternate between digging out from under snow and dealing with wet and mud when temperatures hover just over freezing.

Snow Day

Mid-December, we missed our friends’ annual Christmas party because we were snowed in. On Christmas and New Year’s Eve, we had to shuttle people without four-wheel drive vehicles in and out. And this week –  the return-to-school week — I was in attendance a whopping one day out of five.  Two official school snow days and two Negative Lane unofficial snow days where I stayed home to help the Hubster keep the driveway clear for the furnace repair guys to get in and out (and $2,600 later, we have a new furnace).

I know I’ve mentioned that our driveway, at about a 1/2 mile long, is really more of a private road.  A private road through the woods.  An s-curved private road through the woods.  An unpaved, s-curved private road through the woods. A rocky & rutted unpaved, s-curved private road through the woods.  A steep, rocky & rutted, unpaved, s-curved private road through the woods. My aunt and uncle, who have lived in a variety of first, second and third world Far-Eastern countries  for the last forty years, once compared our road to one that leads to the rubber and tea plantation owned by friends of theirs in Thailand. Compared it negatively, I mean. The excavating we had done last summer improved our road dramatically, but the cycle of freezing, snowing, thawing, muddy, freezing, snowing, thawing, muddy that we’ve had this last month is starting to undo it.  The deeps ruts are coming back and will need to be mechanically smoothed again. We don’t have a snow plow of any kind because we’re not sure it would do any good.  We can’t afford to salt the entire driveway every time it snows even if we could plow it, so instead our M.O. is to clear and salt two tire tracks on the steepest grades and just four-wheel it on the flats.

Beamer once described the best way to get up our driveway in the snow by saying “You have to have Uncle Mo riding with you.”  Uncle Mo is mountain biking slang for momentum.  What he meant was you have to pick up a serious amount of speed on the long, flat start of the driveway (think of it as the “runway”) before you hit the hill (and the subsequent curves) and hope that your momentum can help carry you through the slippery parts without digging the car in deep.  I’ve ditched my vehicle on the way up twice this season already, which isn’t a bad record at all given past seasons, but once I had our babysitter with us. I think she was scarred for life. (To most people, your car ending up in a snowy ditch in the woods isn’t just called “Saturday afternoon” like it is at our house.)

Going down the driveway I like to describe as “threading the needle.”  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to steer.  That’s it.  Hopefully you have anti-lock brakes which will slow you and keep you from skidding sideways, because nothing is going to stop you, that’s sure as hell.  And luckily, the long, flat “runway” part of the driveway will slow you down before you get to the paved road.  So, hang on…

The Driveway, c. 2004 (Google Earth)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Grimsaburger January 10, 2010 at 1:14 pm

I love it. We never got much snow in Kentucky, but I am plenty familiar with the expert driving and patience with less-than-ideal vehicular situations (abandon ship!) from badly-gravelled roads, driveways, and muddy fields. Years of city living has made me soft, I fear–I still don’t know how to get an automatic-transmission vehicle unstuck, because it just won’t shift as quickly as you need to shift from reverse to first to rock it when necessary.
So, yeah. Good luck with the rest of the snowy season! :)
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