Yesterday, we had the first serious lay on snow event of the season. Around 5 o’clock it was looking pretty ugly out and I asked the wife if she brought boots or sturdy shoes to work with her to brave the walk out to the car when wrapped up at 10. She just had some dress shoes, so I said I’d stop by and drop off her boots.
Got the kids all suited it up and headed over to the mall. It was wintry out, but not snowing at that moment and the highways were pretty clear. We dropped off our load, and grabbed a few cookies for enjoying back at the house. As we pulled out of the mall parking garage, Jilly asked if we could drive through downtown to see where I work. I said sure, we’ve got some time to kill. So I head through the inner harbor area to cut through to downtown.
I was taking it pretty easy, because the temperature was dropping pretty quick. As we approached the corner of Solar and Kirkpatrick streets, I could see a shiny spot in the road. I geared down and began to hit the brakes. Buzz and clickity clack went the anti-lock brakes. I kept my foot on the break and we continued to slide for about 30 feet. We still stopped way ahead of the intersection, but I don’t ever remember sliding like that on flat ground before. After that, the road was pretty crunchy again, so we continued on through downtown.
After looking at the skating rink and the unlit City of Syracuse Christmas tree, we took Genesee Street to get back to the house. We saw little mayhem at a stuck traffic light. After waiting 3 minutes with no changes, we cautiously went through the red light.
I could see the road was starting to get bad at Columbus Ave. There were some highly polished streaks in the snow. That usually happens when fresh snow falls on top of black ice. Yikes.
Just as we cruised under the light at the corner, I saw a city bus coming down the hill that we were just about to start up. Hmm, he’s sure taking it real slow down the hill I thought. Right as I passed him on the way up, I noticed he wasn’t driving down the hill, he was sliding. All wheels were stopped! Oh, crap, this can’t be good. I scooted over a little more the other side of the road.
When we got to the next street, the light had just changed, so I kept on my ascent. Another bus was beginning the descent down the hill. It looked like everything was going according to plan until the bus started going diagonal. Gulp. I pushed over into the bike lane was out of the way before he crossed into the oncoming lane. Good thing there was nobody behind me at the time. I took a quick sigh of relief.
Everything was looking up until our speed started to slow while the engine began to race. 3/4 of the way to the top, our trusty Jetta lost traction. I stopped, backed up a little, and tried to point the car into some crunchier looking snow that looked like better traction. I put it back in drive. Damn, nothing. We weren’t sliding back, but not making any advances.
With no other options, I resorted to backing my way down to Wescott Street. With hazard lights a blazing, I crept back down the hill. A few folks were coming up in SUVs or otherwise all wheel drive vehicles and were able to pass me successfully on the left; although the second one spooked someone coming down the hill on the other side and sent them bouncing off the curb.
After an eternity, I was able to back onto Wescott Street and then head down it and eventually to Erie Blvd. The first few blocks of Erie were super slippery and we saw someone who couldn’t stop slide entirely through a red light and nearly get t-boned. Eventually, we got to where the road was freshly salted and made it the rest of the way home without further incident.
All that was left to do was a wait a few hours for the Mrs. to wrap up her shift and repeat the same trip back home. In those few hours, it seems DPW was able to get the roads in a lot better shape and she made it home without incident or nearly as much nailbiting as the rest of us.
Hmm, gotta research if the snow tires from Sandy’s old car fit on the Jetta. With 30k miles on the current all seasons, its probably gonna be a little dicey this winter on them.
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