driving nightmares tro share?
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myrto
December 7, 2001
Member since 10/4/2001
259 posts
The most common driving nightmare I have run into recently is just getting out of town. Once I have cleared 66 or 270 things have gone generally smooth.
There was however the time we decided to take the new highway 68 to the back way to 7 springs. We had just passed that huge mountain gap where they have a state rest area. (The one where if you get out of the car you must hold your children close to keep them from being blown off the side of the cliffs.) The tempature probably dropped 20 degrees from one side of the bridge to the other. We got back in the car and it started snowing. A half hour or so later we made our turnoff to start the back route to 7 springs. The roads were typical 2 lane state highways where you had to pay close attention to which turns to make to stay on the same road. The mountains were not a problem. The problem was the fields. Every time we would get to a clearing the snow would have completely blown over the road so that you had no idea where the road ended and the fields began. To make it through we finally started to estimate 2 car widths from the telephone poles and hope that they did not lead us into a ditch or worse. Well as you can tell by this posting we did survive and while it wasn,t any quicker it was much more entertaining than driving the Pa. turnpike whose sole excitement comes from the trucks we love to share the highways with.

Come to think of it I do recall an interesting adventure from Blueknob.
I,ll get to that one later.

In the meantime pray for hazardous road conditions.
This 70 degree dry pavement is depressing.

PhysicsMan
December 7, 2001
Member since 11/20/2001
218 posts
Sorry, but I just can't get too excited about your incident. Some years, what you just described may occur once or twice a week in places like upper NY state (even when it is not snowing -just blowing), and can be almost as frequent in more southern mountains like the last 40 or so miles of the drive from DC to ski areas like Timberline and Canaan.

As an example, I drove up to Greek Peak for 3 days last Feb, and I encountered blowing snow exactly like you described on each of the days I was there.

I'm sure it must have been harrowing to you, but situations like you described are exactly why state DoT's recommend a winter emergency kit and appropriate car preparation for cars traveling in such areas. If you are prepared, you just slow down, put on the chains when it gets bad enough and motor on. If you aren't prepared, your heart is in your throat the whole way.

Should the worst happen, and you wind up in a ditch, depending on your level of preparation, you can either:

1) Use your cell phone and wait out the tow truck in complete comfort (ie, use the parkas, insulated overpants, blankets and thermos that you brought);

2) Walk to the nearest farm for help (you are not exactly in the arctic, you know);

3) Flag down someone and see if they are willing to let you attach the tow strap that you presumably brought for this purpose; or even

4) Winch yourself out if you are a real do-it-yourselfer.

Once you have spent a winter or two in real snow country, this sort of stuff just doesn't phase you anymore.

If you want to see some *REAL* life style adaptations required for snow country living, you should hear what the people that live in and around Little Cottonwood Canyon in SLC have been doing recently. They have had over 12 FEET of blowing, avalanching snow since Thanksgiving and have been forced to XC / snowshoe in to their homes, no electricity, wait for the avalanch control guys to blast the slopes above the road, etc.

Now, if we could just have them send some of that stuff this way...

Tom / PM

kennedy
December 10, 2001
Member since 12/8/2001
792 posts
Are snow chains legal in all States? Personally I haven't a clue whether or not they are. I think I may have seen some info somewhere suggesting that some states do not allow them.

Als, how much do they cost, how do you put them on and where do you get them?

PhysicsMan
December 11, 2001
Member since 11/20/2001
218 posts
> Are snow chains legal in all States? ...
> I think I may have seen some info
> somewhere suggesting that some states do
> not allow them.

You are almost certainly thinking of studded snow tires, not chains. Studs are most valuable on ice, but since they are permanently installed (at least for the entire winter), they tend to wear the road surface much faster than normal tires. I haven't looked recently, but I would doubt if studs are legal in any but the most northern states.

OTOH, chains are only put on when needed, and only for relatively short trips on roads that are completely snow covered. As far as I know, chains are legal everywhere as long as the road is completely snow covered. In fact, in many snowy areas out west, the local police often make the use of chains (or 4wd) mandatory for use of particular roads.

The most (in)famous example of this is when out-of-towners drive from LA to Mammoth on 395 in a rental car. In bad weather, as you approach Mammoth, chains will often be required, but, of course, there will be none in the rental car. So, free enterprise comes to the rescue and guys in trucks are standing by to sell you them for outlandish prices. They will even mount them for you for even more outlandish prices.

Chains are astonishingly effective, especially when put on all 4 wheels of a 4wd vehicle with lockable hubs and center differential.

> Also, how much do they cost, how do you
> put them on and where do you get them?

I haven't bought any in ages, so I don't know their current price, but I would guess they would run $40 - $100 these days, depending on quality and if there happens to be a major snow storm in progress (grin).

The usual way to put them on is to drape them over the top of a wheel. You then connect the two ends temporarily by two springs (one on the inboard and one on the outboard side of the wheel). You then move the car forward a couple of feet, and now you can connect the two ends securely with what amounts to another link of chain.

As you can guess, doing by crawling around under your car on the snow gets kinda old, especially since the only time you ever need to do it is when the weather is wretched. When I lived up north, what I used to do was keep a big pro-model hydraulic jack in the car (the type with the long handle that you pump up and down to raise the car). With this, I could jack up one entire side of the car in 30 seconds, and put chains on the front and rear on that side in another couple of minutes. Since the tires were completely off the ground, you can immediately go to full tension on the chains - no necessity to inch the car forward.

Since the above technique is excessive for someone not in real snow country, what I do now that I live down in the DC area is simply keep the chains in my car for my trips up north. If I get stuck, the first thing I do is lay the chains in front or in back of the wheels and attempt to drive or at least rock the car onto them. If I don't want to put them on, I'll just use them as traction mats to get un-stuck (ie, like sprinkling sand or gravel under the wheels). OTOH, if I do want to install them, I'll drive or rock onto them and pull them up from the bottom over the wheel, and do a re-tension, if necessary.

Hope this description helped.

Tom / PM

[This message has been edited by PhysicsMan (edited 12-11-2001).]

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
December 11, 2001
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
I bought two chains for my front tires and a tow rope over the weekend at Trak. The whole package cost me 30 bucks. I think the chains were ten dollars. I'm not sure I need the tow rope, but then again, in WV, towing services get kind of busy during snow storms so it will be nice to have this capability just in case.
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