12/16/08 - I love the ice...

This morning in Central Arkansas, pretty much everything was covered in ice. The roads were slick, the bridges where slicker and you couldn't hardly walk on sidewalks and driveways. This means that the entire state shuts down, stock prices for Campbell's Soup soars and you can't find bread or milk in a 2 county radius.

This is the time that I really enjoy. I've always liked the challenge of driving in inclement weather. This has been the case for as long as I have been able to drive. At least since I was 18 anyways when I got stuck for the first time in my red truck. It was only two wheel drive, and for some reason on the way up a slight incline, the cars in front of me decided to stop. I was able to stop with no problems but when I tried to go forward again, I slid backwards just off the side of the road and had to come back the next day with Cristi's great uncle to get it unstuck.

Since then, I've never been stuck, of course I've also always had four wheel drive vehicles. Several years ago I was on the way home at about 2:00 in the morning from a friend's house during a big freeze and after passing a car that was stuck, I decided to just drive around and help people as they needed it. I pushed a BMW bumper to bumper all the way down JFK from North Hills all the way to McCain, that was a lot of fun. For those not familiar with the area, that's about 2.5 miles. After making sure they made it home, I drove around hoping to find other civilians that needed my assistance. Needless to say, at nearly 3 in the morning at that point, most people were sane enough to not be out on the roads.

The only problem I run into is that on days like this, I always stay up late the night before because I know that school/work is closed or a late open, so I can sleep in, so I never get out on the roads before the salt trucks can get out there and the sun starts warming things up. This morning though I did get to drive down 440 which is basically one big bridge. It had not really been salted so there were some fairly treacherous areas.

I guess it is a bad thing that I have no fear, but I can only remember one time that I ever did not have 100% control of my vehicle. I've lost traction many times, I've slid around corners more times than I can count, and I've hydroplaned my fair share. But in each of those situations, I was in full control, fully aware of where my vehicle was headed and how the maneuver would end. The one time that I did lose control was on the night mentioned above. On the way down a hill in a subdivision with cars lining both sides of the street, I was attempting to slow down and lost traction in all four tires. I slowly began turning sideways and there was nothing I can do but try to steer back on course and hope that I stopped. Luckily, I only slid for 10 feet or so, but I learned a very valuable lesson. Although four-wheel drive allows you to get going in pretty much any condition, it doesn't help you stop.

Well, this post kind of got out of hand, but it was fun to relive those memories. I'm hoping that today, things melt a little, it rains a little more and then over night everything freezes over again because I've got to go to work so I'll be getting up early to get in on time.

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