Car Scare Meme

Jay has a neat Meme of when he was most afraid while in a motor vehicle. Nancy takes it to a different level. I’ll go on my own route.

A few years back New England was hit with a severe ice storm. I know people who were out of power for weeks. Doubletrouble was actually stuck at his place for several days from fallen trees on his road and downed power lines. Of course I was JUST south enough that all we got was a wee bit of rain and some cold weather.

It happened to be this weekend we were getting together with Mrs. Weer’ds sisters who live in Northern Vermont.

Stupid Mistake #1. I didn’t even think twice of all the news stories of ice damage.

Mistake #2. I had a half tank of gas in my truck, and its my general practice that if I can get to New Hampshire I fill up there for tax reasons.

So off we went. It didn’t take much more than 10-15 miles on the highway before a night-and-day difference in the landscape happened. Rather than the snowy dreary December landscape, a crystalline world of broken trees and downed power lines were all we could see.

We had planned to stop at McDonalds as a treat (a greasy McMuffin does you good in moderation!) the first exit with a McDonalds was DARK, the restaurant was closed because of power.

This only got worse the further north we went. It wasn’t just the restaurants and houses, but the gas stations. Before we know it we’re halfway up New Hampshire, and the needle is getting near the red E, and we haven’t found an open pump yet. No problem, right? I have a AAA membership, worst case scenario I’ll just call for help and they’ll bring me a few gallons of gas!

Then I looked at my cellphone. Not only were the restaurants black, as well as the filling stations, but the cell towers were down too. I looked out on the Northern New Hampshire highway on a snowy December. It is VERY bleak and remote. No life, no traffic, no shelter.

Thankfully I have blankets and some food in my truck so we COULD hunker down and keep warm for a little while, and thankfully it was cold but not as brutal cold as New Hampshire can be in the winter that day. Still the idea of hunkering down in a dead truck under blankets and waiting for somebody to find us didn’t give us much comfort.

Dumb Mistake #3. Tho I had both my Mass and NH carry permits at the time, they were both still VERY new to me, and Mrs. Weer’ds sisters were VERY anti-gun at the time (they have since come around), I thought I’d not rock the boat and wasn’t carrying a gun. The thought of the WRONG somebody finding us while we were helpless was TERRIFYING!

Thankfully the truck had enough juice to limp us into Lebanon New Hampshire which was also mostly dark, but there WAS a single gas station that had power to their pumps and I was able to top off my tank and get us safely to the top of Vermont. Also it wasn’t far into Vermont when it became obvious that they just got a shitload of snow and no ice.

I was REALLY scared that day. I’ve been in accidents several times, and those aren’t fun, but while they’re happening all you’re thinking about is your driving skills and how to make it better. I remember hitting a patch of sand on a back-woods road in Maine and my truck went skidding off the road. All I was thinking was “BRAKES!!!!!!!” as I stood on the brake pedal as a massive pine tree got closer and closer. I didn’t feel anything emotional until it was all over and I knew we were fine.

Things get REALLY scary when you KNOW for a FACT you are NOT fine!

Be safe out there!

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3 Responses to Car Scare Meme

  1. bluesun says:

    Yikes! “Better to have it and not need it than the other way around,” it’s happened to me a couple times as well.

    But yeah, I suppose my Jeep story I left in the comments at Jay’s wasn’t entirely factual; during the rolling through a snowbank I felt very detached from the situation, just observing. It was the after, trying to figure out how to get to CO from ID without a vehicle (and calling my mother) that was scary…

  2. Robert says:

    I looked out on the Northern New Hampshire highway on a snowy December. It is VERY bleak and remote. No life, no traffic, no shelter.

    That’s not remote. Take a look at this map:

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_0ceHaR5RPhk/TVBwadFC9_I/AAAAAAAAAYk/ACxdGuGnmK8/s1600/america.jpg

    See that largish area of complete black out west? That’s southeastern Oregon and northern Nevada. It’s considered one of the most remote areas in the lower 48 states.

    It also happened to be the territory I traveled through six or eight times a year until a few years ago while I was attending Eastern Oregon University and making trips home to Battle Mountain, NV every time I got a week or so off.

    I would travel east on I84 until I got just into Idaho, at which point I’d take US Route 95 — which eventually cut back down through southeastern Oregon and then south to Winnemucca — before heading east again on I80 into Battle Mountain, for a total drive of about 430 or so miles, which would take between 8 and 9 hours.

    There is also absolutely no cell phone coverage whatsoever on route 95 in southeastern Oregon. There are only two towns, with a combined population of maybe 300, on the entire 120 mile stretch of road, and both of them are over by the Idaho border. If you break down there, you’ll pretty much have to hope someone else is traveling through so you can flag them down.

    Now imagine driving that road alone in December in the dark with the snow coming down so thick that it looks like you’re driving through a white tunnel, with about 2 inches of compacted snow and ice already on the road because the snow plows in Oregon don’t take it down to the pavement. And that’s the position I was in about 4 or so years ago.

    Luckily, I always filled up in Idaho, so I had plenty of gas. You really don’t want to underestimate the amount of fuel you’ll need to get somewhere when you could have to walk 60+ miles if you screw up.

  3. Archer says:

    Mine takes a slightly different direction: it did not happen in a remote area, but that partially plays into the fear factor:

    My family and I were visiting some friends in Utah. “Friends” is a bit too soft a word: we were surrogate parents and my lovely wife was carrying one of their babies. We were in a very full car: our friend and her (then) two children, our two children, my 9-months-pregnant wife, and myself driving (it was a big car). The only person missing between the two families was our friend’s husband. So we’re cruising down the middle lane on a highway overpass in Utah (I want to say on I-15 near Salt Lake City, but I’m not 100% sure) at mid-day among somewhat surprisingly heavy traffic considering the time of day.

    I’m watching the road and I see a large piece of debris in our lane. And by “debris” I mean, “man-sized-chunk-of-gnarled-up-scrap-metal-with-plenty-of-exposed-pointy-bits.” I go to move around it, but the traffic is too heavy on the other side to get over. We’re going to hit it, nothing else to do but try to minimize the damage. I yell “Hang on!”, move as far over as can be done, and take the “debris” on the left side of the car. I could tell by the sound and the change in handling that at the very least it popped the front left tire.

    What happened next surprised me, but makes me hopeful if/when the shit hits the fan: my brain snapped to attention and instantly made a checklist of what needs to be done to keep everyone in the car safe: 1. Ease off the gas. 2. DON’T slam on the brakes. 3. Scope out the the traffic (looks a little lighter on the left). 4. Scope out the shoulders (Hey, an emergency lane on the left. What luck!). 5. Turn on the left turn signal. 6. Ease it over as traffic allows (the other drivers must have seen it, because they opened right up, by golly). 7. Once in the emergency lane, GENTLY apply the brakes until we stop.

    I got out to assess the damage. There’s some cosmetic damage to the side of the car: scrapes that go clear down to the base metal, like a someone decided to key it with a lawn mower. The real surprise was the tires: we only lost the front left one, but it wasn’t just popped; it was SHREDDED. I truly can’t emphasize enough the damage to that tire (in retrospect, I really wish I had pictures of it).

    Pretty quickly the Utah Highway Patrol pulls up behind us and asks what happened. We explain, and he says they got reports about that debris, and one of their trucks picked it up another quarter mile up the road. I’ve really got to give the UHP some serious props here. The officer was polite, professional, and when we couldn’t get the jack out of our car (it was under one of the seats with an infant carrier strapped in – who designs these things!?), he pulled his out of his cruiser and changed our tire for us. Massive KUDOS to him!

    We were very lucky. Nobody was hurt (some of the kids even slept right through it). I still get light-headed thinking about what might-have-been, and just how badly it could have ended but didn’t. Especially with that shredded tire and all the other cars.

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