Slaloming Out of Control

When I chanced to read Ginnie’s blog about her accident and subsequent new vehicle, I didn’t think it would get to this. In the Rearview Mirror, I have already posted about three of my own incidents although one was a miss. You’d think that should just about be enough accidents for one lifetime, but I already have two more posts about my driving mishaps or near-mishaps in the can, as they are wont to say, with one more in mind.

Last night, however, I serendipitously stumbled upon some old blogs and then some winter photos, which brought another adventure to mind. Unlike other incidents, no other vehicles were involved this accident, which occurred on an isolated, snowy, sloping rural road on a bitterly cold day. Following is an excerpt of what I more or less posted about six years ago when I was still pretty young to the world of blogging. The photos weren’t included in the blog although I did post them later.

The road bent downward to the right, but Harriet skidded on a course to the left, directly toward the snow-banked side. I remembered: “Turn in the direction of the skid.” I did and promptly found myself careening right toward the opposite snowbank. Once more I turned the wheel in the direction of the skid; once again Harriet responded by swooping — now toward the left bank: the problem being that each swoop (or slalom) became wider and wilder than the previous.

Winter Photos

A day or three later, I returned to the scene to take this picture of the approximate spot where it all started to happen. You may be able to see that there is a fair drop off from the left side of the road. I'm glad I ended up in the right bank.

I was in a quandary. Although my foot was already off the gas pedal, Harriet’s speed seemed to be increasing exponentially (although I’m sure that was an illusion perpetrated by the wild, out-of-control careening). Harriet has ABS brakes, but I knew that they wouldn’t deploy in time to keep me on the narrow road when I was perpetually pointed toward one looming embankment or another.

The fourth swoop did Harriet and me in. We did a complete one-eighty, and plunged deeply into what had previously been the right bank but was now the left. By this time, I was no longer trying to compensate by steering; I had surrendered to the fates. Although I never had cause to really fear for my own safety, I knew that Harriet and I would end up in a predicament, and we did.

Winter Photos

Later: there was still an indentation where I went into the snow bank.

Being a typical Canadian, I was totally unprepared: no shovel, no rope, no blanket! But I knew that I could walk home in less than a half hour. The significant cold didn’t concern me because, at the very least, I had the wisdom to dress appropriately.

I began to try to free the wheels with the only instrument at my disposal — a windshield scraper. Useless! Soon, three snowmobilers passed by and stopped to help. They couldn’t budge the car, but I begged a lift home, and they were glad to oblige.

It was my maiden voyage on a snowmobile. I hunkered behind the driver who, I must say, was doing his best to take it easy on the old , nervous gaffer scrunched up behind him. Therefore, he was quite concerned when I fell off. I dusted off both myself and the small shred of dignity that I was able to muster and proclaimed myself fit and ready to proceed. He offered one bit of advice: “Lean opposite the tilt.” So, if we were banking left, I should lean left so that I wouldn’t fall off the right … as I had just done in such splendid form.

Permit me to do some snipping and to bring this to a conclusion.

My car was in an embankment, and I had fallen off a snowmobile, but I was still in one piece and not much the worse for wear. After obtaining a shovel and working doggedly for an hour, I was able to free the front wheels: a fruitless effort because, once dug out, the wheels were off the ground. Spinning them until doomsday wouldn’t get me out. We eventually arranged to be towed out of the embankment, and Harriet and I got ourselves home under our own steam. Harriet is fine apart from a few broken pieces of plastic fender, which will, doubtlessly, cost sixty thousand dollars (give or take) to replace.

As it turned out the damage was minimal and probably could probably have been left unrepaired. My dim memory informs me that it cost less than two hundred dollars to fix Harriet up, so that’s what we did.

My original post was entitled Slaloming with Harriet, which is what we named our car — Harriet the Chariot. If one must take up a winter sport, and if it must be the slalom, I do suggest that it be done on skis and not in a vehicle.

I have since driven the same road in winter, but v.e.r.y. c.a.r.e.f.u.l.l.y.

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15 Responses to Slaloming Out of Control

  1. Mara says:

    So far I’ve always avoided skidding on any road. Although, come to think of it, I did skid once and made a 90 degree turn ending up between hedge and poles. My friends and I thought it was hilarious and even my parents (who were in the house) could hear us laugh. Nothing was damaged fortunately and once we had pushed the car the right way round again, we were on our way again.
    But as my colleague always says: keep the tin on top and the rubber below and you’ll be laughing!

  2. KGMom says:

    Whew–much relieved to learn that Harriet was a car. 😉
    I suspect many of us have had such slipping accidents (at least those of us a) admit it and b) live where weather throws ice at us).
    I was giving our daughter a kind of driving lesson one snowy evening, cautioning her that when descending a hill to tap the brakes. I tapped–and the car began sliding. Would not stop. We slid down a hill on a road that ended in a T at the bottom. I looked and saw another car coming along that road, and calmly informed our daughter–we are going to have an accident.
    So much for wise lessons.

  3. Paul says:

    I always enjoy your sense of humor.

  4. Ahhhhh….but the question Remains…Do you Still have Harriet???
    Thank God for Snowmobilers!!!

  5. Thanks for a great laugh today. Not laughing at you, of course, with you. I had a bad skid a few years ago when working the Home Health back roads. I had a trainee with me and she got so frightened she opened her door and tried to jump out, which added to a big, bad situation. She landed in the snow and the car slid right up against her. Worse, for her than if she had stayed in. The worst scare, due to her action I have ever had. Yes, do you still have Harriet?

  6. ~sWaMpY~ says:

    So, where’s Harriet now ?
    BTW, I finally found the photo I was looking for when I wrote my Alexandria post . . . it’s now a little more personal.

  7. Mary G says:

    Yeah. Been there. Done that. I now have four wheel drive, snow tires and a lot more caution.
    A skiff of fresh snow on packed stuff seems to have the same effect as wax on a dance floor.
    I once dumped my mother-in-law off a snowmobile for much the same reason. She was not amused.
    Glad you are a cheerful soul who can laugh with and at himself – one of the reasons I read you, of course.

  8. Ginnie says:

    Ha…I wonder what it would cost today to have it towed and fixed. It was a different world back then but the road can be just as treacherous today.

  9. Diana says:

    Harriet? Well it was or is your car!! I love your sense of humor AC, Being a typical Canadian! That was funny, glad you were unscathed!
    Love Di ♥

  10. D. Hough says:

    What a series of unfortunate events. I had a bit of a scare coming back from a house that’s at the end of a narrow track during the cold weather before Christmas. It was downhill the last 20 or so yards to the main road, and when I hit the brakes I just kept on sliding. Luckily I remembered that there was a cattle grid at the end of the track, and I waited till I reached it before hitting the brakes again, and they held. Phew!

  11. Lorna says:

    We have an official Canadian Tire winter kit, another one that my brother made for us, a shawl tied around the passenger seat, ablanket that makes into a pillow, a blanket handmade by a 4 year old tying knots into holes cut by her mother, deer squealers, GPS and a host of other safety items. I could drive in my bathing suit and bare feet. Too bad we’ve put the car away.

  12. Mary says:

    AC, I’ve also been there, done that. Never drove into too many snowbanks but remember one incident where the road was pure ice. I couldn’t drive, but had to go where the car took me. Luckily the car finally came to a stop on an upgrade about 200 feet from home. I was about 22 years old and living with my parents at the time. Dad took out the tractor and pulled the car home.

  13. Ruth says:

    I did a 360 spin on the highway two weeks ago. Fortunately I avoided other cars and the ditch. It happens very quickly but I was able to just keep going and my husband who was in the passenger seat was most gracious.

  14. Bernie says:

    My gosh AC I really needed the laugh you just provided, I’m sorry but I can’t help it. I have never known anyone who has fallen off the back of a snowmobile ever……but have know many who ended up in snowbanks. And about the typical Canadian remark, I have to tell you I have a survivor box in my trunk…..blanket, candles, matches, flashlight, even packaged food, etc. It is part of living in the West I think. Take care my friend, after a rough few days I so enjoyed your post……:-)Hugs

  15. Pearl says:

    you fell off the skidoo?! woo, that’s quite a first ride.

    at least snow banks cushion the fishtailing cars.

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