So it snowed a little bit today, but mostly it was cold and rainy. When I went to the store, I had to pull over because rain was falling on the windshield and immediately sticking, to the point that after a couple of miles, I couldn’t see anymore. I ended up turning on defrost to the maximum. By the time we got the store, Lain and I were both sweating and she was crying from the heat. But I could see!

That’s not actually the story that this post is about. The story is…

So Clancy is spending the night at a neighbor’s house. About one tenth of a mile from here. Worry not for the Truman-Himmelreich marriage. She’s there because she can’t get here. She drove up our street, which has an incline, and the car decided that it could go up no further and decided to go back down again.

This is the incline:


She can walk a bit, but for the most part is still on crutches. We decided that she should not tread up an incline that the car could not. So she’s down there.

After putting Lain to sleep, I needed to let the dog out. While the dog was out, I decided I would throw some salt on the driveway. After taking care of the area immediately in front of the house, I decided to see if I could make any progress on this part:


Given the level of ice, you might have some sort of idea what happened next. Sure enough, I lost my balance. No, wait, losing my balance isn’t quite right. What happened was that I started shifting. Surfing, as it were. Except without a board. And on ice and concrete instead of on water. Realizing what was happening, and that there was no stopping it, I decided that the best course of action was a controlled fall, and then laying flat on my back in case I got more traction and to make sure I wouldn’t lose my balance.


Above you see three arrows. The red arrow is was I was when I started. The blue arrow was where I ended up. The green arrow is where the incline was such that Clancy’s car couldn’t make it. In between the blue arrow and the green arrow is apparently a place sufficiently level and/or ice-free (I don’t remember, my mind being distracted by other things) that I didn’t slide all the way to the street below.

Here’s another view, a picture actually taken not far from where I ended up in fact:


When my hands heal, I’ll probably think it’s funny. Under different circumstances, it might have actually been fun. When I was going down, it made me think of those waterslides that you lay on your back and slide down with a gush of water. Except, once again, ice instead of water. And a driveway instead of a tube.

Category: Home

About the Author

9 Responses to A Magic Ride

  1. There’s a part of me that wants to argue that your plow guy should do a better job of salting the driveway. OTOH, there’s another part of me that wants you to get winter tires. OTOH, there’s a part of me that wants Clancy to just buy that 2015 Outback WITH winter tires so that this won’t happen anymore.

    FWIW, pre-1990s SUV explosion, how did the previous owners of the home manage to make it up the driveway?

    • Actually, the reason that I suggest the snow tires is because I’ve seen a lot of my customers in various 4wd and AWD vehicles get stuck and lose control of their cars on icy driveways, and most people tend to keep all seasons. Some of them have long driveways like yours, and usually we tell them to apply more salt, and I usually suggest breaking up as much of the ice as possible with a garden hoe and garden shovel…

    • trumwill says:

      Plow guy only comes out when there is snow. In this case, it was almost all frozen rain.

      I have no idea what the previous owners did, other than that the guy broke his arm trying to snowblow the driveway. Which gives me pause when Clancy suggests we go that route.

      In this case, ice actually overwhelmed the salt that we had out there.

  2. A 4 says:

    Agree with the winter tires. They are expensive, and it’s March, so maybe you just suck it up the rest of this year. But, you have learned that you have an issue for next year, and winter tires are amazing. Honestly, it seems like road conditions are worse where you are now than they are further north. More ice and mix than thick healthy snow.

    Personal experience only with one brand of Finnish tires. Even so, “snow tires” makes you think of the commercials with cars plowing down snowy roads in the mountains, but our tires excelled on icy, surfaces. These were not studded tires, just winter tires.

    One experience like you describe. My wife was picking me up one late winter day,after a thaw and refreeze, followed by rain. So the driveway/parking area was solid ice with water running down it. I couldn’t walk up the hill to where she was waiting, so I walked up in the snow, and had to slide down to the car on my feet like in story. Took three tries. The first to learn I was going to slide past the car, and that grabbing the car wouldn’t stop me, the second to grab the handle and open the car door as I went past, and the third to collide with the open door to stop my sliding and get in. The car had no problem at all in these conditions.

    Plus they make a really cool growling sound in new snow.

  3. trumwill says:

    What do y’all think about tire cables?

    • Wow, I’ve never heard of anybody call them *cables*. FWIW, I don’t know much about them as most car blogs tend to discuss snow/winter tires, but never chains. People haven’t used them in the Mid-Atlantic for years, and my cousins in Canada don’t use them either. They seem to be a West Coast thing, as it’s a place where people routinely go from warm zones into cold weather zones back into warm weather zones (i.e mountain passes).

  4. A 4 says:

    The best part about tire cables is having to lie on your belly in the slush to put them on, followed by the bear hug you have to give your dirty wet tire to make sure they positioned right. Of course, I haven’t used them in a while. Also annoying to drive on clear pavement.

  5. A 4 says:

    David, cables were/are updated versions of tire chains, using wire with bushings strung on them instead of actual chain. Better to to drive with than chains, but still horrible on dry pavement. My experience with them was in fact, California, when they were nice to have and sometimes required to head up to the mountains. I never saw them in Upstate New York, either. I did see studded tires up there some times, though.


    • I never saw them in Upstate New York, either. I did see studded tires up there some times, though.

      One of the things that I remember from visiting the Pacific NW was the signage for tire chains on I-90 going Eastbound into the Cascades. In contrast, I’ve never seen equivalent signage going northbound on I-87 into the Adirondacks (or I-91 into Vermont). Mind you, the Adirondacks are much smaller in comparison, and the grades far gentler on I-87 versus I-90.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

If you are interested in subscribing to new post notifications,
please enter your email address on this page.