Slip Slidin’ Away


This morning we awoke to new snow and a thin crust of ice all over the roads. In spite of the fact that we live in Idaho, where people are expected to know how to drive on the stuff, the first real snow is always accompanied by a sharp learning curve as the denizens of the city by the lake get their bearings. People seem shocked to realize all over again that driving the posted speed limits may render you unable to stop in time to avoid hitting the car in front of you, and that anti-lock brakes and snow tires are no substitute for caution on the icy streets. Slow and steady wins the race, the saying goes, and I was glad I remembered it today as I inched past several fender benders and a string of police flares around a white van mysteriously flipped over on its side.

As a Georgia girl, my learning curve was a bit steeper than most that first winter in Idaho. I routinely forgot to slow down in advance of intersections, causing me to slide through more than one stop sign or traffic light. My instinct, when going into a slide, was to stomp on the brakes and hold them down, transforming our minimally maneuverable car into a two-ton ice skate. It was a long, snowy winter that year, and I was terrified to leave the house.

Finally, Paul took me out to an iced-over parking lot for a remedial course in driving on the tundra. I learned to pump my brakes, to test the grip of the tires, to turn the wheel into the slide and correct my spin. After some practice, I realized I was actually having fun, especially when Paul demonstrated the dubious trick of turning perfect donuts on the ice. It wasn’t long before I was able to release my death grip on the wheel, unclench my teeth, and drive around town with confidence.

Ironically, it was Paul who was driving when we had our one and only bumper thumper that winter. We crashed into a church building. We had pulled into their parking lot to turn around but we failed to see the black ice covering the slightly inclined asphalt. Paul turned the wheel left, the car kept going straight, and we had plenty of time to see the brick wall before we ran into it. Thankfully, the damage was minimal, but we never fail to giggle now when we pass that building.

The name on the sign was “True North”. (Does that make our Ford Escort a compass?)


9 responses »

  1. Very funny… any little bit of ice/snow on the streets here and we might as well have 6 ft of snow…. everyone freaks out… or think that 4wd means they can drive 50mph on ICE… sorry… but that is just 2 more tires to slide on the ice… ha ha ha

  2. I can just picture you doing donuts on the ice in a parking lot some years back. πŸ™‚ My dad used to take us to the Dairy Queen parking lot and do the same thing…but fortunately we never ran into the adjacent church building. Heh. Enjoy the white stuff!

  3. Oh this is so true. I grew up in Northern Illinois where we drove on backroads that were often unsalted and barely visible to begin with. Now living on the East Coast, it seems as though everyone EXPECTS the roads to be perfectly clear the moment they get out of bed. No caution whatsoever goes into driving out here, it’s every man for himself!!

  4. Um? Am I the only one who noticed that you switched to the Blogger Beta? (I mean, it looks like you did, did you?) I love your new header, by the way.

  5. It always takes some time to adjust to the new driving weather– I avoid the ice and do not mind driving in the snow. Glad you know the major rules– I know most of them but it is always hard to pull them out when I need them.

  6. Jules–Nope…haven’t switched to Beta yet. I imagine eventually they’ll switch me with or without my permission, but I’ve been putting it off until I find a big enough chunk time that I can fix it if Beta makes it go all fiddlysquidgit on me.

  7. Great new(ish!) digs, Katrina! And “fiddlysquidgit?” I *definitely* have to use that word in a sentence, and SOON!

    Haha, yes, I’ve seen my share of stuck and stupid people out there on the roads these days. (Not that they’re stupid if they’re stuck – those were two separate categories!) BUT, I’ve gleaned a few tips about driving in the snow, and I’ve managed pretty well (so far, touch wood!). I’m all about the slow factor, and gearing down instead of slamming on my brakes.

    Stay safe! πŸ™‚

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