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May 20, 2017

The date was May 20, 2017. The day started with “The Beast” getting new brakes at what was then my, favorite auto mechanic’s shop. “The Beast” is my diesel-powered, four-wheel-drive one-ton pickup truck that refuses to get stuck in the snow.

The internet weatherman had issued a severe weather alert. Or maybe it was an internet weatherwoman, or maybe it doesn’t matter to this story who issued the weather alert. The important part was the severe weather alert.

The weather alert aside, the day was pretty much like any other day. The twins were in school. Ivy was selling yarn at Your Daily Fiber. I was building houses and Elaine was working in town drawing power poles.

The day was overcast, with every indication that precipitation was not far away. By mid-morning, it was raining in town.

The weather in town can be quite different than it is at our home. There is a two-thousand-foot difference in elevation from town to our house. While it is raining in town, it could be snowing at home, or vice versa.

Leaving the house that morning it was neither raining nor snowing. Cloudy, but no precipitation. As you might guess, that was about to change.

It was raining in town and conditions were getting worse. I needed to pick up the “Beast”. A couple of times that morning, I called the auto mechanic for an update on the “Beast’s” brakes. No luck, they were still working on them.

Shortly before noon, my employer suggested I go home.

Don: You need to get out of here. Me: I’m waiting for the mechanics to finish the brakes on my truck. Don: Take mine. Me: Seriously? Don: Take mine.

That might have been the last civil thing the man did for me. This is not important to the story, I just felt I needed to say that.

I took Don’s truck and called Elaine.

Me: I’ve got Don’s truck. I’m going to the store to pick up some groceries and then get a couple of bales of hay for the animals. I will pick you up after that. We need to see what’s happening at home. Elaine: I’ll be ready.

Elaine and I were headed home by 1:00 PM. Ten miles from home (one thousand feet lower than home) the rain turned to snow. It wasn’t long and the road was white. The snow was literally getting deeper with every one hundred yards of travel. About two miles from home, I was pushing snow with the front bumper of Don’s truck. We were still moving, but I was missing “The Beast.”

Snowflakes the size of quarters were falling. The clouds were sitting on the road making visibility nearly impossible. Ironically, this was the exact day the twins were to graduate from middle school. It was becoming obvious Elaine and I were going to miss the ceremony. Can we talk about that for a minute?

When I was growing up, a kid/person had two graduations, high school and then college. I didn't graduate from Jr. High, I just went to high school. No party, no cap, and gown, no new clothes. None of that (construction language). We had field days or movie days. My parents didn’t come to school to congratulate me. They wanted me to come home and mow the lawn. If my parents came to school, it wasn’t going to be good. I knew if I didn’t finish Jr. High and go to high school next year, the summer was going to be miserable. We can argue but I think I turned out all right, and our lawn always looked nice.

Where was I? Oh yeah, driving home in the snow.

Elaine and I found places the twins could hunker down with friends in town until the storm passed. Ivy ended up sleeping in the store. (WE had a make-shift bedroom in the mezzanine of the store, where I did most of my best work.)

A mile from home, Elaine yelled,” you are driving off the road!” Too late.

In a situation like this, you would think it would be good to hit the brakes. That is not what I did. I hit the gas hard and drove Don’s truck into a ravine that had snowdrifts over the hood of the truck. The truck slowed and became stuck in the deep snow. I wished for “The Beast”, and ironically one other thing.

I wished that “Run-Around” by Blues Traveler would have been playing on the radio. I have good luck when that song is playing. The song has nothing to do with driving fast, but man, what a tempo. I can't keep my foot off the gas.

I’m going to step away from the snow story and tell a short “Run-Around” story.

I was building a convenience store in Pueblo, Colorado. I would drive to Pueblo on Sunday night, spend the week and come home on Friday.

One Sunday night, with Blues Traveler blaring on the CD player I noticed the red and blue lights of an emergency vehicle behind me. I mean, not right behind me, back there. “Beast” and I were enjoying “Run-Around” (maybe enjoying it too much). At the end of the song, I noticed the red and blue lights were RIGHT behind me. It was the state patrol and they/he wanted me to pull over.

The patrolman jumped out of his car with his hand on his firearm. He slowly walked up to "The Beast".

Cop: I was just calling for backup. Me: Why? What’s up? Cop: I have been chasing you for seven miles. Do you know how fast you were going? Me: Not really, maybe 70-75? Cop: First, the speed limit through here is 55, I clocked you at 95. Me: Oh (construction language)! Cop: Where are you going? I need to see your paperwork. Me: I was going to work. I work in Pueblo. Cop: Please show me your paperwork.

Me: My paperwork is in the console between my seats, next to something I have a license to have.

Cop: You don’t show me yours; I won’t show you mine.

He asked, so I explained why I was working in Pueblo and commuting. We talked about the job for a short time, when he said.

Cop: I should arrest you for about eight different charges. I need to do something because I have already contacted headquarters. They know I stopped you. Are you really working in Pueblo? Me: Yes, I have a week's worth of clothes in the seat next to me. I have tools in the pickup bed. Check it out. Cop: I’m going to give you a written warning.

Me: Thank you.

Cop: I felt sorry when you said you were working in Pueblo

Back to the snow story!

I believe with “The Beast” and “Run-Around” working in unison I could have driven right out of that ravine. Unfortunately, I didn’t have either one.

A mile from the house, Elaine and I came to a quick realization we needed to walk the rest of the way home, carrying groceries and wondering how we were getting the hay to the livestock. The snow was so deep in the ravine that the driver’s side door would not open. I rolled the window down to crawl out the window. (More about that later) The snowdrift was not as deep on the passenger side and Elaine had her door open. She didn’t say anything, I think she wanted to see me crawl through the window.

When I say we were a mile from our house, that is a mile on the road. By the way, the crow flies it was only maybe one-hundred-fifty yards. Of course, going that way would be crossing a twenty-foot-deep ravine with vertical sides and a creek at the bottom. Not to mention waist-deep drifts in the pasture. We took the path of least resistance and stayed on the road.

I really don’t remember what Elaine was wearing, but neither one of us was prepared to walk in thigh-high snow. It took about an hour to get to the house. Elaine started a fire and I devised a plan to get the hay from the truck and to the livestock. Elaine started a fire because we didn't have electricity, water, or heat. No electricity means no water-well pump, no water-well pump means no toilets. This bothers Elaine and the neighbors (Within visual range) more than it does me. (Just a tidbit of information to add spice to the story.)

Elaine and I put on snow gear complete with snow-shoes and started walking back to the truck pulling an empty sled with the intent of putting hay bales on the sled and bringing the hay to the livestock. Off in the distance, we could hear a motor, some kind of vehicle. Before we could get back to the road a truck appeared with a one-thousand-pound bale of hay on the back. It was Barry and Barry Jr., big-time cattle ranchers from up the road.

To keep me from returning to Don’s truck, I asked the Barrys if they would sell me some of the one-thousand-pound bale. They declined. They told me they would rather give me hay. You can’t beat that. They unloaded enough hay for our livestock to last three days. I didn’t need to get hay from Don’s truck.

That worked out pretty well. Elaine and I returned to the house. I took off my snow gear. I felt compelled to get the binoculars and check Don’s truck. I had left the (construction language) driver’s side window open. Snow was filling the truck. I put the snow gear back on and started the walk to the truck. Another 45 min trip.

At the truck, I was met by a neighbor driving up the road. I waved him on, thinking if he stopped, he would get stuck. He stopped. He got stuck. I spent the next forty-five minutes shoveling snow and pushing his car, helping him and everyone that was now stuck behind him.

We ended up putting the neighbor in the bucket of a tractor and hauling him to his house. We left his car stuck in the middle of the road.

Don’s truck was stuck in the ravine, buried in the snow for three days. I didn’t tell him where or why. I just avoided him. He never let me drive his truck again. Do you blame him? I didn’t want to drive it, anyway.

Guess how I got Don’s truck out of the snow. You’re right; “the Beast”! Pulled it right out. Without Blues Traveler! Of course, I did let the snow melt and settle for those three days.

What is the significance of this story? As I write this the date is May 20th again. The weatherman (or weatherwoman, stop it Monner) has issued a strong storm alert. OK, really, what is the significance? I wanted to explain high I live here. Adventure!

We didn’t get more than one inch of snow. The warm ground melted the snow as fast as it came down. I guess that’s OK with me. I don’t know why, but currently, Elaine won’t let me shovel snow or push cars, and I don’t know if she will let me even walk in deep snow. She is always taking away my adventure and for no reason. I love you, Elaine

Our crazy lives!



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