AKA… Winter Driving – problem solved!
Read on for a great story OR scroll to the bottom for Quick Tips and Links
Are you one of those people who are terrified of winter driving? Just the thought of what MIGHT happen brings cold sweats to your brow? Well, not me. I was that person who felt like superwoman. Yep, invincible. I could handle anything. You know that person; young and knows everything? Uh, huh. That was me.
Until I learned my lesson. The hard way.
We lived high up in the mountains of South Western Colorado; the tiny remote town of Telluride. Population approximately 1000. I drove our 1979 Mercury Capri, in the snow, without chains all the time. I put on the chains when I needed them. It was fun and it was easy.
One Christmas Day, I set out with my 3-month-old baby and our dog to a lovely Christmas party. I was dressed in jeans with a coat. I was wearing tennis shoes. I had a diaper bag. The Champagne, of course, and some gifts. My baby was in his car seat covered with a his blanket. And, I always had my chains with me. I took the road I had always known to go. Right up the hill past the new airport that they had just started to build. It was closed due to the holiday. It was a beautiful winter day.
And then the snow got deep. I didn’t even think about whether it had been plowed… or IF it would even BE plowed. I was several miles from town, up on an unmaintained back-road by then. We went that way in summer; why not winter?! I stopped, got out my chains, and set to work. I tried rocking the car, going forward and backwards. That car was NOT going to budge. I even tried to push it myself. Digging just got me in deeper. No way, Jose! And, of course, no cell phones in 1986.
I packed up my baby, wrapped him in his blanket, grabbed the bag and my dog, and set off back down the snowy road. No backpack, no frontpack, just my arms for everything. It was cold, but I was on a survival mission at that point. At one point, I fell. It’s amazing how our instincts kick in. I spun to my back and both mama and baby were no worse for the wear and tear. My little guy was a happy baby but he needed to eat, too. What about diapers? I followed the side road down to the airport under construction thinking that there must at least be a phone booth. I was close! Or so I thought.
Nope. Nothing. Closed up and locked tight. No phone booth. But I found an open electrical closet under construction and ducked in. Fed him and changed him and set back out on our way. It was a little reprieve for us both.
It was getting dark now. I started to worry about coyotes or wolves, thinking that my dog would either scare them off or attract them. But I was glad to have his company. My baby went to sleep in my arms bundled inside my coat and I continued on. Eventually, I reached the highway and, for the only time in my life, I put out my thumb. After two cars passed a woman holding a baby with a dog on the deserted side of the road in the snow, a person stopped and we got a ride back into town on that dark, cold Christmas night.
People were out searching for us. We were all over the radio. We’d made it back. But I was changed.
You’ll still find me ready to set out on a snowy adventure, AND you can bet I’m prepared!
Winter Driving – problem solved!
It’s very crowed over on the West Side of the mountains, but over here on the East Side we travel with ease, mostly. The DOT takes really good care of the mountain passes and our highways in Washington State, and Chelan County takes good care of the county roads. In addition, Lake Chelan folks out here are used to driving in the snow and under somewhat treacherous conditions. The experience allows us to be less fearful, less reactive and more prepared. This makes it easier for all of us; YOU included!
BUT, be prepared! Here is my list of “Never Leave Without’s:”
- Blankets AND pillows (plenty!), snow pants, snow boots and gloves, a couple of towels.
- WATER (at least a gallon), healthy snacks and a treat, a real book and a card game, tissue or tp.
- Snow scraper and small shovel or something to dig with, a small tarp, a first aid kit, flashlight WITH working batteries, jumper cables, my cell phone and charger. We have a safety kit with a triangle and a power pak, too.
- Another person if I can. This one’s not necessary, but more fun and could be a big help.
- A great attitude.
- AND… check your route! Before you go, and while you’re on the road if it’s questionable.
I’ve never gotten stuck like that again, but I’ve been in some slow or stuck traffic. I’m always happy to stuff my car and my husband never laughs at me.
So, don’t be shy or scared; be PREPARED… and get on out here to see us at Mountain View Lodge! It is a BEAUTIFUL time of year and a perfect time to escape the dark and gloom or just treat yourself to a little getaway. These days, we’ve got so much information and tools at our hands. You’ve got this!
Here are some great tips and links from the Washington State Department of Transportation:
WSDOT Winter Driving Tips
WSDOT Pass Reports