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Driveway, Part 2

I successfully drove up the driveway and to the post office to pick up the mail that had been accumulating since I last picked it up on Monday. (Mailbox is currently out of reach of delivery vehicle, even though I shoveled it out enough for 3-4 people to be able to walk up to it at a time. Well, before this week's storm, anyway. Now it needs more shoveling, but mostly it's a fruitless task at this point.

When I attempted to leave in order to come down to New York to visit the friend who's critically ill here, I didn't build enough speed up at the bottom of the hill and the car just plain stopped making forward progress about halfway up. This happens once or twice each winter. Usually I manage to back down successfully and get out on the second or third try. Not today.

I suck at backing up. Add to that a curve and a slope, and I'm all but hopeless. The car was in a snowbank within 50 feet.

It was the driver's side snowbank, of course. I climbed over the console into the passenger seat and out. I shoveled, I poked more snow and plow crunch loose and shoveled some more. I climbed back in the passenger seat, across to the driver's seat, and gently started rocking the car.

I move it far enough out that the next time I was stuck, I could at least exit through the driver's door.

I shoveled more, poked more snow and plow crunch loose. I got back in, moved the car clear of the snow bank, and continued backing down the drive. The only way to get up it is to go all the way back to the bottom, get a good running start, and then handle the accelerator carefully, letting the car use the momentum to continue climbing the hill.

I promptly buried the driver's side of the car back in the blankety-blank snowbank. See previous comment about sucking at backing up.

Did I stop when there was still room to get out the driver's door? Of course not. Back over the console, back to the lather, rinse, repeat with the coal shovel and ice chopper, with the occasional use of the scoop to move all the loose bits.

Back over the console and into the driver's seat. Freedom. Real freedom. I resume backing the car down the hill, this time with the driver's door open to help steer clear of that pesky snowbank since the windows and mirrors were well fogged by this point.

And right back into the damned snowbank. All together now: "Geri sucks at backing up." A car, anyway. I'm not nearly as bad when it comes to computers.

I tried shoveling again, though with far less vigor than my previous efforts. At this point, I've been climbing out and back into the car, and shoveling plow crunchies from awkward places for an hour and then some, with only 2-3 minute breaks rather than the 10-15 minute breaks I take after shoveling 15-20 minutes of the flat, easy, snowy stuff.

I climb over the console one more time, give it one last try. Nope. Car still stuck. Turn it off, pull out my wallet and phone, and do what I should have done an hour ago. Yes, AAA's roadside assistance covers you when you get stuck getting to the road.

The service rep tells me to expect a 2 hour wait, and maybe longer. Yes, I understand, but I also explain why I'm trying to get out, and why sooner is better than later in terms of arriving at the hospital during visiting hours.

Dave the Tow Guy shows up in less than an hour. Yes, he has a tow truck. A big tow truck. However, it's not 4-wheel drive, and his winch doesn't reach all the way down to where my car is. He starts shoveling. I pitch in, having had enough of a break to help out at least some.

This time, he gets to do the climbing over the console. He rocks, turns wheels, and does all the good things I was doing though he's a bit more tolerant of smoking tires and the aroma of hot rubber than I am.

The car remains stuck.

He shovels more. I retrieve the bag of ice melter from the garage. For the next set with him behind the wheel, I attempt to help pushing from behind. Yes, I know it's risky, especially on a slope. I take what I think is reasonable care.

The car remains stuck.

More shoveling. Dave focuses just on the front wheels, which makes at least some sense, much though I can't imagine how the back end is going to get out of all the snow it's mired in.

Dave goes back over the console, I resume pushing position, and the car comes free.

That's unexpected enough that I go down just in time for the back driver's tire to spew thoroughly-sanded snow onto my head and face. I'm a good six feet away from the car at this point, but I get out of there in a hurry, well aware that Dave can't see I'm down and I know what direction he's going to be coming next.

The entire effort remains free of stupid tragedies.

Dave backs the car down to the bottom of the drive without embedding it in yet another snow bank. Dave doesn't suck at backing up.

He gets a good start and drives it smoothly up the hill to the top of the drive. Well, as near the top of the drive as he can get without running into his plow.

I put the ice chopper and scoop shovel in the garage and confirm the entry door to the house is locked. Dave carries the coal shovel and remaining ice melt up to my car. I pull the last five one dollar bills out of my wallet, apologizing for not having more on hand, having tipped Plow Guy for the awesome job he did with the front-end loader nine hours earlier.

Dave notices I'm covered in grit. "What happened to you?" I explain.

"You're going to want to go back down and get cleaned up." Yes, I knew he meant walking back down since there's no way I was taking the car back down the hill once it was up. But no, I was fine, if also a reasonable stand in for what felt like 40 grit sandpaper. I still had a chance of making it to New York during visiting hours, albeit a slim one.

So off I went. My scalp felt like I'd been body surfing in ocean waves, the kind where the rough'n'tumble at the end of the ride leaves you with sand embedded deep in every orifice. But a bit of massage and some later work with a brush fixed that. As for my face, I simply brushed off what felt like the remains of a sand facial.

Traffic jams on every road south of Hartford quashed my hopes of arriving at the hospital during visiting hours. I've already spent enough time there that the technicality wouldn't bother or stop me, but conversations with the wonderful friend who's there tonight indicated that coming in early in the morning would be more helpful, so I headed to Fanhihall.

Well, sort of. Joe called earlier, warning that Edie's car was stuck in their driveway. He and Edie and Dan spent an hour trying to get it up the ice-slicked drive before giving up and taking it up to a shopping center parking lot for the night. Fortunately, their 4-wheel drive minivan/SUVs handle the drive without difficulty.

So I headed off to the indicated shopping center parking lot, left a note in the window explaining the situation and that I'll retrieve my car early in the morning along with my phone number. Then I gratefully rode with Joe & Edie back to Fanhihall where Corey (the neurotic dog) was happy to see me. That's one of the good side effects of all my recent trips down here. Corey recognizes and is comfortable with me. Win.

Saturday's forecast is for 3-6 more inches of snow'n'sleet'n'crap at Toad Woods. I'll probably leave the car at the top of the drive. It will be the first time ever for that. There's no doubt: the conditions clearly call for it.

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Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
kaffyr
Feb. 5th, 2011 06:59 am (UTC)
Oh, my dear - please, please be careful with yourself! Shoveling and trying to fight a car out of or off of ice can ... you know the drill. Just please be careful with yourself!

gerisullivan
Feb. 5th, 2011 11:56 am (UTC)
Thank you, dear. Yes, yes, I know the drill and I do my best to listen to my body over my fierce determination in such circumstances.

Then again, I doubt that anyone having their own shoveling/digging out the car cardiac events thinks it's going to happen to them. And I fall well into the high risk category for such trauma.

So, yes, thank you. I'll do my very best to be careful with myself.

One small notable fact from this round: when AAA told me it would be two hours, I didn't go back out and resume my own shovel/clear/climb'n'slide right back into the snowbank 4-6 feet further down the drive routine. I stayed inside, talked on the phone, did some PROmote work, and made myself a bit of protein to eat. I hope that knowledge brings a bit of comfort your way.
kaffyr
Feb. 5th, 2011 05:22 pm (UTC)
I did sound naggish, didn't I? It's just that I spent the last two days digging out our car, and I know what it did to me. I'm so glad you did the smart thing(s), and ought to remember that you generally do (except for that lackosleep(tm) thing.)
lauriemann
Feb. 5th, 2011 12:01 pm (UTC)
Your house is so lovely in the summer. But I remember driving on the driveway and realizing getting out of it after some winter storms could be challening. Stay warm and I hope your car doesn't have any more adventures!
smofbabe
Feb. 5th, 2011 12:17 pm (UTC)
Glad this story ended well but sorry for all the trauma and exertion on your part. Hope you're staying warm. (Can't believe I'm voluntarily flying into this weather...)
carbonel
Feb. 5th, 2011 04:59 pm (UTC)
I seem to recall that part of your rationale in moving away from Minneapolis initially involved worries about snow and aging. *imagine sound of hand over mouth stifling anything further*

In any case, I'm glad you're extricated and unhurt. Do you have any plans to start considering the snowbird lifestyle?
lsanderson
Feb. 5th, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC)
Does not sound
Like fun. Let's hope the worst storms are behind us.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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