Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mountain Woman Test: Driving In Snow

Whenever I wake up to a snowy morning I think of Simon and Garfunkel...."this is the sound...of silence."  I awoke to "the sound of silence" this morning; our part of the world muffled under piles of snow.

Aaron recently bought me a new car, with all wheel drive, for just such a day.  Today would be it's virgin voyage in snowy conditions.  The kids and I prepared for launch with little concern.

"Mom, can I wear 'heaters' today?"  Drew asked. 

("Heaters" are what Drew calls pants that are fresh out of the dryer.)  I threw his pants in to the dryer.

"Socks too!"  Drew called down the stairs.

I went out ahead of schedule to warm up the car and to remove snow from all of the windows.  We would be leaving with plenty of time for me to drive slow.  The snow was already about 6 inches deep and was still coming down.

I text Aaron and Caren:

"Today will be my first day to drive the new car in the snow."

"Be careful.  It's not good,"  Aaron responded.

"I'll be thinking of you," Caren texted.

"It's a Mountain Woman test..."  I sent back.

As I loaded the kids up (and was no longer early because The One Which Will Remain Nameless couldn't get his act together) I was still feeling confident and comfortable with the task before me.  I've had a lot of experience driving in snow as of late but when it's like this I have had the good fortune of hitching a ride with Caren.

Before heading out Caren called for a little pep talk.

"Call me when you've made it home," she said.

Backing out was fine.  We pulled out onto the road.  Caren's in-laws were at the bus stop with their grand-daughter.

Oh Lord, please don't let me be the one to run over Kevin's parents...and right in front of their little girl!

I put the car in Neutral and began to gently of break, gently break...slide...and stop. 

Whew!  Friends and family still alive!

The couple smiled and waved to me, unaware of the danger they were in.

That little bit there told me what I was in for for the rest of the way to the school.  The boys know there is no talking when Mom is driving on snow and they were near perfect.  We drove on in silence and at a snails pace.  As I turned onto the highway there was another slippy slide.  I regained control and on we went.

Besides the roads, there was an issue with my windshield wipers.  I couldn't figure out how to work them.

Why is this so difficult? 

The control was on the right instead of the left.  I could not figure out if it was turning it or flipping it that made it go.  Somehow I got them on but could not control the speed.  The insistent wonk, wonk, wonk of the blades on the dry window was making me batty.  I finally got it at a speed that was in time with the snow fall.

In front of the local saloon we had a slippy, slip, slip, slide.  With clenched teeth, I handled everything as taught. 

"Whoa!"  Drew said.

"Shh!" scolded Gabe.

By the time we got to the school, poor Gabriel was 10 minutes late for band.  I helped him gather his things and then walked Drew into school on shaky legs.  I guess my face was as white as the scenery because Drew's teacher Julia, greeted me with, "Gotta love Colorado!"

I weakly smiled.

I got Drew settled in his class and then went into the hall to discuss Christmas plans with his teacher.

"I'm trying not to cry.  I'm still a little freaked out from the drive in," I said before we began.

"Oh you should do it!" she said as she hugged me. "Let it out.  You'll feel much better.  I still cry and freak out about it.  Stay at the school for awhile if you want.  Just relax," Julia suggested but I was thinking of the snow that was still coming down.  The roads would not be any better if I waited.  I just wanted to be home by the fire with my big brave dog to comfort me!

"I think I'm going to go for it."

"Then here," she said as she handed me a container of cinnamon sugar bagel holes, "take these.  They will make the drive better.  I'm serious!  It works."

Armed with my cup of bagel holes I headed back out to my car.  As soon as I got my car running and the heat pumping I popped a bagel hole in my mouth and then called my girl, Lauren.

"Hey," she answered.

"It's Michal," I whimpered.

"I know."

"I'm in the school parking lot....sob....because I'm afraid to drive home in the snow!  I mean, it was scary enough driving up the mountain and now I have to drive down!"

*More sobbing*

"OK, it'll be got there safely..."  and I honestly can't remember everything she said because I was crying and then laughing because I felt so silly.  "Is there someone there you could call who could maybe be more informative about how to drive in those conditions?  I mean, I'd be freaking out too."

"No!" *loud sob and laugh*  "Caren is working out somewhere down the hill.  I don't even know if she is there yet.  She could be driving.  I'm sorry!  I shouldn't of called you.  I don't want to worry you.  I just needed to cry to someone!"

*More crazy crying and a bagel hole*

"Don't apologize for calling.  I'm glad you did I just feel bad that I can't give you any advice or help."

I told her about the windshield wipers.

"I'm going to read the manual before I pull out of here."

"That's a good idea.  I can't believe Aaron let you drive that car with out teaching you how first."

"I doubt he knows how to either."  With the manual in my hand I started to feel better.  "I think I'm better now."

"Good.  Will you call me when you get home?"


"I'll be praying for you."

"Thank you."

"OK, be safe.  I love you."

"I will.  Thanks again.  I love you too!"

I ate another bagel hole and thumbed threw the manual until I found the information on the wipers.  It's ridiculous.  This car has so many features and gadgets.  I tried to narrow it down to the important part.  The rest I will figure out later....

Low do I do that?

I read on shifting to low and also learned there is a button I can push for when I was driving in winter conditions.  I just couldn't figure out if it was just for certain times or could I keep it on the whole time with out damaging the transmission.  I opted not to use that.  Besides, it's not the car that will get me home safely but my skills. 

I know.  Scary, right?

OK God.  It's you and me.  Surround my car.  Give me wisdom.  Send your angels to protect me.

With a bagel hole and that prayer, I was off.

I tightly gripped the steering wheel, clenched my teeth and carefully headed down the mountain. 

So far so good.

In my rearview mirror I could see another car coming up behind me.  I worried about how slow I was going.

Don't worry about that, I heard Caren's voice say, It's better that you take it slow and not worry about other drivers.

I did not change my speed and I noticed the car behind me swerve a bit and then take to the slow pace that I was on.  Another car came up behind that one and we all crept on like a funeral procession.

I felt the car slide a bit as we headed down.

Go into Neutral, Caren said.

I obeyed and continued on, recalling Caren's instructions the whole way home.

I finally was on my street.

We did it! I thought to God and to that angel, Caren who was along for the whole ride with me.

Once I was parked in my driveway I sent a text to Aaron, Lauren and Caren:


"Wonderful," Lauren's text said.  "Now stay there!"

"Oh I will!  I'm the worst Mountain Woman ever!"

Thank you Lord!  Ug!  That was awful.  Thank you for keeping me safe and thank you for the support of all my friends.

1 comment:

  1. Love you and so glad you had such a perfect support system... bagel holes and voices in your head! Great post - I was in the car with you and could totally understand every minute based on your choice of words and phrasing!

    Glad you're home safe.