Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Road Toad Hits The Ice Capades!

Or, a funny thing happened on my way home from work last night.

Allow me to set the scene. We got snow. Lots of it. Tons, even, this being Michigan and all. Which was all good and well, until the rain came. And landed on the frozen snowy back roads. And then the "brutal arctic air came down from Canada causing unseasonable cold, and bringing with it plummeting wind chills". Meteorologists can be so graphic, I personally think that's one of the things wrong with today's kids. But we'll touch on that a bit later. Now, there is so much wrong with that statement that I don't even know where to start. I'm quite upset about it actually, may need to hit the wine to settle down.

First of all, the snow, yeah, it's snow. Yeah we get it. By the tons, until the big lakes freeze over, or mostly freeze over, it's called lake effect snow. More meteorologist speak for lots and lots of fluffy snow caused by cold air sailing over warmer water and producing moisture.
That part I'm ok with, but the rain? In December? In Michigan? WT...?
Sleet or freezing rain, yeah, but downright, if you stand out in it you're gonna get wet, rain?
That's just wrong. On so many levels.
And then the brutal temps. Come on, Mr. Meteorologist, that's January stuff, not December. Update your map! (and calendar).

Let me recap. Tons of snow, followed by rain, then "brutally cold air". That's the recipe for ice. And ice there was (and still is). Black ice. And lots of it. Lots!

Now, let's bring the Road Toad into this equation. I'm used to playing in my big truck in the winter, drift busting, ice sliding (didn't really matter if you hit the ditch, it was big enough to climb out - mostly, there was that one time when we had to call Mr Wrecker Driver but never mind). And, while the Road Toad is awesome, it doesn't weigh too much more than a few sacks of corn. It's cute little shape and 4x4 to boot makes wintertime driving fun again. Until we hit the black ice and realized that a cute little Road Toad doesn't weigh nearly as much as the big truck, thereby we have sliding all over the place, the back end trying to pass the front end, spins and jumps that would rival the best Olympic skaters, stuff like that. Still fun, until the ditch loomed. Still doable, it's not like the ditches are 169 foot drop offs, they're ditches. And they're on back roads, where there are not a lot of people, other vehicles or other stuff to hit, so it's still fun.

Then we remember the problem. Lock Out Hubs. These were awesome on my first jeep, back when I was younger. Much younger. They were fun. A status symbol even. Gotta get out and lock in the hubs so we can get through this mud puddle the size of a small lake. No problem, it was fun, and mostly there was alcohol involved.
Now, not so much. You gotta get out and lock in the hubs of all things. Which means slogging through the snow in the ditch (usually a good amount more than in the fields or yard), which is ok in itself, but dressed for work and not for the farm or not for 4 wheeling is not so good. Plus there are seat belts to fight with, and usually not alcohol to dull the pain. And with the big truck I merely jumped out, with the little Road Toad I have to climb out and up. And I'm older.
The big truck didn't have lock out/in hubs, all I had to do to continue my fun was play with the shifters.

So, moral is, the Road Toad has been initiated to my way of winter driving (when there aren't people around, or cows, folks, I don't drive that way in the city, just where if someone was to get hurt, which is unlikely, it would be myself).

But I still love the Road Toad, it's too much fun, and it still pretty much goes anywhere, even if it requires a bit more effort from me to get there. Gotta make the best of it, eh?

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