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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Hill, Elucidated


I was laughing so long at Emily’s hill yesterday, I did not explain it well.

There are a great many hills like that hill in northeastern Ohio. You drive down one side and up the other. Except when it’s snowing heavily and you’re in front of the plow truck, not behind. In that case vehicles can lose traction and wander the road, including slipping back down the hill. Cars descending can be in as much trouble; it all is a big mess with fender bender accidents and more. If it happens, expect to be out in the snow for a long time waiting for the traffic to clear or for a tow truck.



The easiest way to avoid dealing with this hill in a storm, until the road is cleared, is to stay home. In a storm, the only way to be in trouble going up that hill is to have come down the other side first. Roads were clear yesterday, no snow, and the drive up as easy as down. Oh, well. Emily is 17 and does not drive. She thinks a lot, though.



When I worked in an office, long ago, it was not unusual to be caught in bad winter weather during the day and obliged to get home. I worked in University Circle in Cleveland and lived in Lake County. It was a half hour drive on the freeway; much longer straight out Euclid Avenue, the alternative in bad weather.

One day we had inches and inches of snow. The radio said the freeway was at a standstill and drivers could no longer get on. Euclid Avenue was at a crawl. I did pick up a woman shivering at a bus stop, waiting for a bus that might never come. I drove her a mile down Euclid, to her street. It took a couple of hours. I decided to cut off to another route that went down into the Chagrin River Valley and back up. There was one bad hill, but I knew my VW was up to it.



When I looked down the hill folks seemed to be doing OK, so I committed. The one hitch in the plan was the cross road at the bottom and drivers attempting to turn from it to go up the hill. They did not have the momentum of the cars coming downhill. Sure enough, as I approached the uphill side, trouble began and cars were forming a jam at the bottom.

I took a good look, revved that little beetle, let out the clutch, jumped the curb of the center median and started up the hill. The median was grass in those days, covered in several inches of new snow, and clear of traffic. At the top of the hill I bumped down to the road and headed home. I remember picking up my girls from daycare at about eight; the staff was not happy and I did not care. It was a long day. That was 1969.

30 comments:

  1. Now I understand the hill comment, somewhat. I live in a place flatter than a frying pan and it's desert.

    My husband swears by VW bugs. He says it's all in the gearing and they can do ANYTHING.

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  2. I got what you meant about the hill yesterday because when we lived in Pennsylvania when I was growing up, the town was literally built downtown and to get anywhere else you had hills. My mom hated to drive on snow and ice and she knew the hills that were better than others, but she was always glad to get to the top of where she needed to go and not slip or slide or get stuck :)

    betty

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  3. Hari OM
    Heheheheheh.... My dad pulled a maneuver not dissimilar once, with the three wee girlies in the back seat and pitch black night. Mother nearly popped the fourth child. And she wasn't preggers yet!!! YAM xx

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  4. When it snows here it just amazes me how many people are out there that just should have stayed home. Good job getting around the problem drivers.

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  5. There are definitely some people who can handle bad weather driving and some who should stay home until spring. You seem to manage just fine! -Jenn

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  6. Beetles were good in the snow, it was the rear engine drive. Mine kept me going when we lived in snow country.

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  7. I swear, there's something magical about a bug that makes you believe it can do anything.

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  8. Your story brings back snow and ice memories. Good job, and kind. That poor woman at the bus stop will always remember you in her thoughts and prayers.

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  9. Where I lived in SE Ohio, when we got snow and ice, I'd rather have to go up the hill then drive down it... and we lived at the top of a mile long, curvy, very steep hill. I had to laugh at your VW story... that must have turned some heads!

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  10. Great winter driving story! I've driven in so many blizzards.

    Love,
    Janie

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  11. I loved my bug, with the engine in the rear as weight, and tires that were over-sized for the weight of the car, they went through snow as good as a four wheel drive car.

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  12. I can see how hard it would be to keep to any kind of schedule with weather like that, especially with hills involved. How on earth do businesses manage when people come in to work at all hours because of the roads being so bad?

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  13. Oh, now I do understand! I admire your driving skills - when winter comes (and yesterday we had minus 12°C in Berlin .. and son told me: in Bavaria minus 18°C) I get a bit frightened. DiL did the right thing: she absolved a course for winter-driving these days (she has hills with snow too) - I was informed that with 'ABS'breaks, (which of course my little red Fiat, Knut, has too), I must react quite differently from what I learned when I did my driving test.

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  14. I didn't have a bug, I had a 5 cylinder VW Quantum and it could get through anything; it's the only car I actually mourned when it died.

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  15. drive in many a location with steep hills and snow, going up keep up the momentum, going down, go slow and don't break. we're expecting a light dusting of snow and our driveway is like a ski hill, we don't be leaving till the temperatures rise, luckily our driveway faces south and the trees overhead are deciduous.

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  16. Nothing changes does it? In bad weather I stay in unless my friend with a 4 track calls and then we sail along - the trouble is we usually come up behind other drivers who have fallen foul of conditions and got stuck.

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  17. Great story of a certain young mother and her trusty VW bug.

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  18. I'm still confused how you go down the hill before going up it. don't you go up a hill and then down? anyway, my few times trying to drive in snow and ice in Chicago and Colorado were too scary. glad I don't have to deal with it.

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  19. The best way to handle winter driving is to call a cab lol.

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  20. Well I got it, and explained it for you. We have hills like that here, long climbs really, and one night P was coming by in the snow on his tractor, and everybody was spinning and with a chain he stopped and towed every vehicle to the top of the hill. He was late home that night.

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  21. Yes, you have those kinds of hills; the beginnings of the mountains. Where you downshift a little four cylinder car half way up.

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  22. We see that you have always been an independent, fierce lady.

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  23. So many memories like yours., Had the VW and one hill between Lake County and Cleveland State Hospital which involved a bad hill on Richmond. Would wait at the bottom until all spinners and think I cans were done,put it in low and go up the hill. Also remember using Euclid from downtown Cleveland to Lake County. Didn't know you then or we could have shared rides.

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  24. So glad we don't have to deal with snow here, it's all too cold.
    Merle...................

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  25. Yes excellent driving. Since we left Scotland I have definitely not missed the snow and horrible winter driving. Now I can walk to the town my only concern is keeping my feet when it's icy, which so far hasn't been very often.

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  26. Yes excellent driving. Since we left Scotland I have definitely not missed the snow and horrible winter driving. Now I can walk to the town my only concern is keeping my feet when it's icy, which so far hasn't been very often.

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  27. One good thing about living in London is that there are very rarely winter driving problems. Having said that we did have heavy snow and ice 5 years ago and our area seemed to come to a halt for days and days! people were just not used to it....

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  28. One good thing about living in London is that there are very rarely winter driving problems. Having said that we did have heavy snow and ice 5 years ago and our area seemed to come to a halt for days and days! people were just not used to it....

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