Friday, March 07, 2008

Snow Flurries

"Snow flurries" covering one of our firewood racks Thursday evening.

Our forecast called for a chance of snow flurries mid-day on Thursday, and a high probability of significant snowfall overnight. It had been over a week since either Jo or I had made a trip into town, so I figured I'd better hitch up the pickup and venture into the grocery store. There wasn't any need to get up and get moving since the snow wasn't going to start falling until overnight, right? Wrong!

Snow began late morning -- and it didn't stop. There was an inch or so on the ground by the time I left for town. As I drove down off our ridge, I was thinking that I should have gotten an earlier start -- like yesterday. I seriously considered aborting my town run, but we needed groceries. It wasn't like we were going to starve to death if I didn't make it to the grocery store. We keep enough bulk grains and other food on hand that going hungry wasn't going to be a problem, but our menu selection would be a bit boring for several days. ("Would you like rice with your beans or prefer some beans with your rice?") Besides, unless we replenished our pantry, severe coffee rationing would be necessary. The prospect of caffeine withdrawal headaches convinced me that I was going to town. If I couldn't make it back up Star Mountain on my return trip, hopefully I'd be rescued by someone with a coffee pot because I'd have an ample supply of java.

Driving along Bear Creek Valley into town was no problem. Snow continued falling, but the ground was still above freezing so a layer of soft slush on the roadway was all I had to contend with. I spent a couple of hours in town and made a half dozen or so different stops. That's the way it goes when you only venture into town every week and a half or so. The local grocery store had their special "Springtime" tent erected in the parking lot. I wish I'd had our camera so I could have photographed all the snow covered bags of potting soil and bark mulch. I hope their supply of plants had not arrived yet. Our forecast calls for 17º (-8º C) tomorrow night.

With a lighter wallet but considerably heavier load in the pickup bed, I headed home. The highway out to our place really isn't the best way to get anywhere, unless you happen to live along it. Close to town, I had some nice ruts through the slush to drive in. The farther I got from town, the less pronounced the ruts became. Still, I had no problem until I started climbing up the mountain. Even though I'd stacked everything I bought (groceries, feed, propane) as far back in the bed as I could get it, I could feel our two-wheel drive pickup doing a little slipping and sliding in places where the slush was packed and my tires didn't break through down to the pavement. I made it to where our county dirt road leaves the blacktop with only one semi-interesting skid.

All along I'd known that the first section of dirt road was going to be my biggest challenge. It's steep, and you've lost all your momentum when you slow down to make the turn. I'd hoped that somebody had recently made the trip up and left me a nice set of ruts to follow. No such luck. There were ruts, but they weren't freshly made and had filled in with snow. With considerable spinning of tires I started up the hill. The ground was still unfrozen, so if I could keep the truck in the road and spin my way down to the gravel, forward progress was possible. Twice I had to come to a complete stop because the rear of the truck was starting to come around the front and sliding over into the ditch. Surprisingly enough, both times I was able to get restarted and finally made it to the top of that first hill.

The rest of the trip on the county road was uneventful until I got to my nearest neighbors house where there is another hill. This hill is just as steep, but shorter. That's good. You can get a straight shot at it and build up some speed. That's good. You have to make a 90º turn while climbing the hill. That's bad, very bad. I hit the bottom of the hill with a decent head of steam, lost most of my momentum when I went into a skid, but ended up lined up pretty good for making the sharp curve. With a bit more tire spinning, I made it to the top. The last 3/4 of a mile home is all downhill and I made it without incident.

I've made a mental note to not put off going into town so long next time.

Snow continued falling all afternoon and evening, although for several hours the snowfall was so light it was hard to tell if it was new snow falling or old snow being blown around. I'd say we've accumulated five or six inches thus far -- and now the predicted heavier snowfall has begun. Who knows how much snow we're liable to end up with? They're talking about a March record snowfall for Little Rock.

I reckon I'll have another cup of coffee and watch it snow.



Lisa at Greenbow said...

Who needs amusement park rides when you have the snow challenge to get home. I held my breath until you got up that last hill and got turned. You deserve a nice cup of coffee after that run.

Anonymous said...

Well, we are getting what you got. Or we are supposed to get up to 12 inches of snow today and Saturday. Will see. I am really getting tired of this snow and ice this winter.

Your photo of the wood pile was a perfect example of what I am talking about.

Tom said...

Hi Marvin
I found this a great post I really did. I drove that road home with you and felt every skik and wheel spin... all the time I was saying to you ''We sould have used my old Land Rover. If and when we get some decent snow the roads over the moors are always closed to traffic... but not to the ones who are daft enough to try and make it over. This is a chance to make a few £s.. The Land Rover is perfect in snow... Low Range Box and 4x4 are the perfect tool for traction, and towing.
I also enjoy the place names.. Star Mountain and Bear Creek Valley, they appealed to my imagination.
I hope you enjoyed the coffee.. I'm sure you did.
My mate Big Peter will be along sometime today for a mug or two of Milky sweet coffee... he as 3 big sugars...ha!..
Great post, I leave here today feeling better for my visit... keep safe keep well.

Small City Scenes said...

Whew! I am just worn out riding along with you. I am glad you got home ok and you have provisions to last awhile in case the snow does. Snow makes for some lovely pictures though. MB

Willard said...

It's good to see you back posting. I like the pictures you posted and the story about the trip to town is something I can really identify with.

I spent the first 22+ years of my life living in a spot where one had to drive out a one mile dirt lane with a steep hill and a sharp turn 3/4 way up the hill. This was the crucial test. If one didn't make it, trying to back off of the steep part was a hair raising experience.

Lana Gramlich said...

*Sympie hugs on the snow & the previous computer problems.* We may get flurries tonight, ourselves. We'll likely awaken to frost at the very least. I may get up early just to get some pictures. Now that I live in the South, anything frosty is an event (& fortunately short-lived, at that!) Sorry I haven't been around the past few days...Just swamped by mundania!

smilnsigh said...

An entry about the 'other side' of living up in Paradise. -big smile-

Marvin said...

Lisa: Thanks. I knew that the closer I got to home the closer I'd be to getting help if I did slide off the road.

Abraham: It's a good thing I had a full hoop of dry, split wood up on the porch.

Tom: Yup, my trip would have been no problem in your Rover. I was certainly wishing I had some kind of 4X4.

Mary Beth: I did take plenty of snow photos, but if it's all the same to the powers that be, I'd just as soon move on to photographing spring wildflowers and bugs.

Willard: Yeah, I've backed down hills a few times when I couldn't make it to the top. I once managed to get two different vehicles into the ditch on the same hill. After a passing neighbor with four wheel drive and a winch helped me get the first one out, he asked "I wonder what fool that other truck belongs to?". I had to tell him that one was mine too.

Lana: Thanks for the sympathy.

Mari-Nanci: There always seems to be an "other side", doesn't there?