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Sunday, November 21, 2010  

The Ice Storm

We were supposed to drive down to Iowa today, but the first sign that might not happen came when I took one step out the front door and my foot just kept going.

Long story short, we'd gotten an overnight coating of freezing rain. It was like the world had been laminated and then greased.

But we'd been putting off this drive for weeks, so I skated on down to the street and started chipping the frozen veneer off the windows of Trash's car so I could go fill up the gas tank. It was trickier than I expected. Our street goes ever-so-gently uphill as it goes north, not that one can even tell on most days. I could tell this morning, because every step I took I slid inexorably south. It was like being on a slow-moving treadmill, and I had to either keep walking or I'd find myself at the park.

But eventually I got the windows carved clear and was ready to go. Normally I would have made a u-turn to head back down the street, but today, once I got off the dry patch of pavement under where the car was, it was more like a pivot.

With every passing second it became more and more apparent that we weren't going to Iowa. Freezing rain was still collecting on the windshield, and stop signs were mere suggestions. At least there weren't any other cars on the streets to crash into, because all of our neighbors were smarter than me.

A few blocks from our house is a short block that rises uphill on a ten-degree slope. I didn't have to take that street to get to the gas station, but I wanted to see if I could.

A running start was out of the question, because there's a stop sign at the bottom of the hill that I had to brake for. This is not to say I succeeded in actually stopping at it, but there wasn't a lot of momentum when I headed up the hill.

Still, I managed to get halfway up -- the dashboard telling me "LOW TRAC" the whole way -- before I stopped. But I didn't stay stopped for long. I was going back down the hill whether I wanted to or not. Fortunately there was nobody coming up behind me, because all of our neighbors were still smarter than me.

While sliding down, I became aware that the front end was slowly slewing to one side. In retrospect, that makes sense, since that's the heavier end of the car (and the end you want to avoid if you're ever trying to crash through a roadblock, for future reference). It was just a little disorienting to have it be swinging to the right, like I was doing a backwards u-turn. Or a clockwise swivel that was a bit faster than the counterclockwise one I'd done in front of the house.

I braked and turned the wheel, but I might as well have been doing so in a shopping cart. The good news was that by the time I got to the bottom of the hill I was more or less pointed in the right direction, assuming I wanted to take a hard left, which I didn't.

I did make it to the gas station and back home, and Trash and I agreed on the safest way to deal with the drive to Iowa: not to do it.

posted by M. Giant 5:00 PM 1 comments

1 Comments:

Looks like you'll be getting another opportunity to slide very very soon...

Pearl

By Blogger Pearl, at November 23, 2010 at 9:49 AM  

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