Kevin, one of my newer friends, texted me on January 16. Referencing a recent article, he was making sure I was good to go on propane. We hadn’t talked or
texted since July 16.
That night, it snowed. The next day, the roads were impassible. Drivers were urged to stay at home. Some people left because they no choice, while others left because they were temporarily transformed into dunderheads. If you point your finger at someone, you have three more pointing right back at you. The thumb kind of does its own thing. I was no doubt one of those dunderheads.
I needed to go take care of the animals at the home place. On the 16th, I’d given my mom and stepdad a heads up that I might need them to take care of them if I was unable to make it up there due to road conditions. I held off for most of the day, but around 2:30, I thought the roads would be okay. They looked good in front of our house.
I’d only drive a few hundred feet when I realized I may have made a bone-headed decision. I didn’t slide off the road, but I did do a little slippin’ and a little slidin’. I didn’t like it, but I was on a mission. I drove slowly with my hands at 10 and 2. My eyes never left the road. My toes were curled the entire time.
It took way longer than it normally does to get to the intersection of Oak Bowery Road and Highway 147. When I got to the stop sign, I almost slid right through it. I had flashbacks to that time I tried skiing in the mall in Dubai. I couldn’t stop. Temporary fencing and poles were flying through the air. People were running for their lives. It wasn’t pretty.
I was really low on gas, but I took a right, so I could fill up at the Box Car at the intersection of 147 and 431. I was taking the back way to the home place.
Taking that right was a huge mistake. Apparently, it would have been no better had I taken a left, but this story takes me down Highway 147, also known as Gold Hill Road. On this day, it was Ice Hill Road.
I stayed a couple of hundred yards behind the truck in front of me. He drove slower than me, so he was being super careful. When we got to the long hill, he kept on going, but slowed down tremendously. I think he had 4-wheel drive. I didn’t. I started to slide as soon as I got on the ice. My right tire slid right off the road. I was stuck.
A couple of guys helped me. One even offered to drive me home. One guy who helped me was a trucker from Oregon, so he gave me sound advice. There was no backing up, so he advised me to put it in neutral and roll steadily down the hill with my foot on the brake. I did just that, and after one erroneous move, I made it down the hill, moving at a cold snail’s pace.
I somehow maneuvered my way out of that and made it to the Box Car on fumes. It was closed.
I took a left towards LaFayette. It was in the wrong direction of home, but I think it had the closer fillin’ station. There were a few icy patches along the way but nothing too terribly bad, and I had just enough fumes left in the tank to make it. The toes were curled the whole time.
I called mama to ask if she could look after the animals. They only live a couple of miles from there. They tried to make it, but the country roads were simply too dangerous to even take a chance. I understood completely.
Then, I thought about Kevin. He lives less than a mile from the homeplace and has a 4-wheel drive truck. We hadn’t talked in six months until the day before. Why did we talk? What odd timing it was…or was it? Maybe the timing was perfect. I called him to ask if he could help. That man was in the comfort of his own home, yet quickly loaded up into his truck to help a neighbor in need. That’s what life is all about. His wife Tiffany was right at his side. Those are good people, right there.
The animals were fine.
When I came back through, I passed right on by Ice Hill Road and continued south on US Highway 431. There were sheets of ice hundreds of feet long. It was awful. I drove carefully but still slid a time or two. Rest assured that I won’t be trying out for the TV show Ice Road Truckers any time soon. My toes are still curled.
I’m still trying to straighten my toes back out. It’s going to take a while. Next time, I won’t be a dunderhead. I’ll heed all warnings and stay at home. I encourage you to do the same.