1. What is your worst winter driving story?
Wow, this is a loaded question. On the 26th of December just last week or so I had a white knuckle express with white-out blizzard-like conditions from Debuque Canyon all the way down I70 to Georgetown but that isn’t my worst drive. Trogg had new tires and was driving like a champ. I popped him into 4X4 and just went slow. But having grown up and spending my life until I was 30 years old living in Colorado mountain towns. When I read this question the first thing that came to mind was a trip back to Gunnison from home in Craig after a Christmas vacation and having terrible driving conditions between Delta and Montrose on a usually nice a tame two-lane highway turned into a snow-filled wind tunnel. My poor little 4 cylinder Pontiac was no match to the wind and struggled to go forward and the wind-tossed me back and forth across the road – it was probably some of the worst 45 minutes of winter driving I have ever experienced – I have driven in lots of winter storms.
2. Do you have a “Damn, I am the boss driving in this crap!” story?
Try driving over Rabbit Ears Pass on Highway 40 coming into Steamboat during a really wicked windy winter storm and by the time you hit the 7-11 in the Springs you will say to yourself, “Damn, I am the boss driving in this crap!”
3. What is the coldest winter that you recall?
There was a really cold year in high school. I think I was a freshman or a sophomore. I wasn’t driving yet. And it was -30 degrees below zero. And we still went to school and no classes were canceled. Different times.
4. When is the latest in the year snowfall you recall?
I have seen snow in July in the Colorado mountains.
5. How bad does stupid cold weather give you stupid cabin fever?
Before the quarantine shutdown, there were some really dark “get me out of here days.” But I am so so homebound now that staying in all the damn time seems kind of normal now.
3 Replies to “The Friday Fives”
1. So many times having lived and driven in the Colorado mountains for many years. I don’t know about worst, but probably the stupidest over-confident ignorant instance was driving over Vail Pass on my way from my house in Breckenridge to my job in Avon, White out blizzard, dusk time and I am in a rear-whell drive only small Toyota pickup going like a bat outta hell, crested the top of the pass and there was two semi trucks pulling full loads side by side and I didn’t want to slow down so I took the inner shoulder (like 6 feet of road against the cement divider and punched it as the two lane road tightened to two lanes with no inner shoulder. The semi pushing me toward the cement divider and me pretty sure at that point I was a goner given there was no out. So I sped up as best I could and got outta the tight spot but now was doing about 70 going downhill on Vail Pass in a whiteout blizzard. Luckily, I let off the gas with now one in my way and was able to slow it on down to not-dying speed and got to work.
2. Many I am the boss instances. I suppose one was a long time ago in my little two-door Datsun during the blizzard of 1982 in Denver. I put some chains on those small rear tires and got out and ate up the snowed in road better than most 4x4s at the time.
3. I would say Gunnison times, but that’s a dry cold. Now Chicago on Lake Michigan in January, I had a night time in bootcamp where it was a -94 degree windchill. Shit ain’t right in those humid cold ass states.
4. Actually stupid cold weather makes me love being inside a warm cozy place. So no cabin fever during those times. But pandemics give all sorts of cabin fever. Thanks Obama!
I missed 4, so my 4 in my list is my 5 and this is my 4. Got it?
4. Working in Summit County radio in the early 9-s had all the 4th of July fireworks cancelled in Summit County and Vail Valley due to snow. Our simulcast with God Bless America was all postponed for esasy listening to Mariah Carey. Also, Vail Pass had the chain law in effect…on July 4th!
What is your worst winter driving story?
Oh, its now I met my truck. Not this truck i am in now, but my love of pick up trucks in general. As to winter driving stories… well, I have several. I have done some driving on closed Colorado interstates during blizzards, by myself. Note, when a highway is closed, even the plows don’t touch the roads. And there are no taillights to follow. What was I doing on closed Colorado highways in blizzards in the dark? Delivering supplies to stranded motorists to shelters via our Red Cross disaster trailer. So, yeah… I not only drove in that scary scary stuff (where you don’t know where the road is… everything is just white) with a trailer behind me. This is what the Red Cross does for you. This is what I do for you.
But that isn’t the most interest story, not to me anyway. In college, I was delivering Chinese food for a living up in Flagstaff, AZ. I was driving in a pretty ugly snow storm in my little Honda Accord (being raised in Phx, we didn’t have much snow practice). Anyhow, I slid into the back of this gal’s pick up truck She had a hitch on the back. It was maybe 10 mph accident at most. It destroyed the front of my Honda to about 3K of damage. Her truck? Not a dent. Just some paint on the back of her hitch. This was great news, as it was very much my fault. She said ‘no damage here, we don’t have to call the cops if you don’t want to.’. What a blessing. Not just because I was afraid of the ticket. I wasn’t… I have hundreds of them. But insurance not covering either vehicle since I was working and didn’t tell them.
She mentioned she was heading to work at the local tire shop. Flagstaff is tiny, that meant only one place. For the next three days I showered them with free Chinese food. Kinda slightly embezzled from my employers. Anyhow, after that accident, I never owned a sedan again. That was around 1994, and I have only bought pick up trucks ever since.
*** in reading this over, doesn’t it feel like its about to end with ‘and that is how I met my wife?’ It does to me. In a way, it was… were my wife a pick up truck vs a sedan. I don’t think she will like that comparison or analogy. Good thing I don’t let her read, eh?
Do you have a “Damn, I am the boss driving in this crap!” story?
Yes, I do. All that stuff about driving very heavy Red Cross trailers in the dark in blizzards with zero visibility on completely closed (and so non plowed) freeways. There is no exaggeration above. Maybe you think ‘hey, at least you can use your brights!’ Not even a tiny bit. it reflects too much snow and becomes blindingly bright. In fact, I remember times out there I drive with no headlights… all they did was create glare. I used my parking lights. Also, in case you think ‘at least GPS kinda kept you on the road, right?” no sir. it didn’t exist then as it does today. Today’s consumer GPS (like your phone) is accurate within 50 feet. Back then, you had to have a very expensive Garmin that was accurate to only 500 feet.
Even more boss? Once I got a few miles away from the shelter site, a copper saw me with the Red Cross trailer and gave me a police escort the rest of the way.
Red Cross – St. Peter Catholic Church – Monument, CO
I tell you that story because I am not going to tell you the story of driving home from Phx to Flagstaff in an insane snow storm in a tiny shitty little Geo metro. With four adults in the car. that is more passengers than cylinders. the reason why i won’t tell you that story is also because I was tripping balls on mushrooms. See, we were driving straight back home after a a Pink Floyd show at ASU. Now, why in the world was I driving a crappy car that I was totally unfamiliar with in a deadly snow storm while exhausted and hallucinating on mushrooms? Because the other three were on acid, which has a much longer and stronger shelf life. We voted, and i was deemed the most capable.
Now, perhaps your mind goes to ‘jesus, why didn’t you get a hotel room? Or, even just wander around the desert tripping out for a few hours and settle your head instead of driving?” Valid question, to which I don’t have an answer. Likely one of us had a class the next morning. Anyhow… now you see why I am not telling that story? If anyone in my family could read, they would be freaked the fuck out by that.
What is the coldest winter that you recall?
A summer in San Francisco. That was an Oscar Wilde quote? I just love it, and can’t top it. didn’t Oscar Wilde also famously (and famously outly gay way) say to customs when he flew in from London to the US – customers asked him if he had anything to declare – and he replied ‘only my genius’. Being that out and gay is bad ass, but dude did this 150 years ago. Oh, here is another one I just love from him (that I also think is from him, but its too late for me to care) “be yourself, everyone else is taken”. That one kinda feels Mark Twain’y to me. If I only I had an editor. Geesh, I think these might all be Twain quotes. I’d fire my editor if it weren’t me. HEY… ya get what you pay for, people.***
When is the latest in the year snowfall you recall?
How about a midyear snowfall story. In college, so mid 90’s, a friend and I were on a roadtrip from Flagstaff, AZ to Chicago. We crossed through the rockies on an August afternoon and it was snowing like crazy. That, and a couple hours spent ‘on the hill’ in Boulder cemented my lifelong love and decide to move to Colorado whenever I grew up. Ended up moving here right after graduation and have been here ever since – Feb of 1997.
How bad does stupid cold weather give you stupid cabin- fever?
Below zero freaks me out. That is when, no matter how well you are dressed… it hurts to breath in your nose. And its when you know you could slip and fall, or get turned around in the dark, and die. During the bomb cyclone I had that terrifying experience. I went out to check the driveway and it was snowing SO hard and SO windy that even in daylight I could barely see where the house was. Truly, had it been dark, I could have died in my own driveway not knowing where to go. I have 5 acres and a football field long driveway. I get when in Alaska and in olden times, before a storm they would run a rope between buildings. So, lets say you had to go to the outhouse in the middle of a storm (and lets say there is no electricity). You follow the rope back to your house. Which is why to this day, even if its snowing somewhere else… I just poo my pants. Safety first, people!
*** editors note – the San Francisco cold quote was Twain. The ‘nothing to declare but my genius‘ was correct… Oscar Wilde. The ‘be yourself, everyone else is taken‘? That, too, is Oscar Wilde. I realize the answer to that question went way off the rails. Don’t blame me! Blame the dumb question, and that it was after several bourbon’s I get around to putting that together.