What else could I do? You could try again. – John Steinbeck, East of Eden
It is embarrassing to admit it, but for the first time in about fifty years of driving, I got stuck in snow. I’d love to say it wasn’t my fault (or better yet, blame it on my saintly wife), but no, it was my fault, my fault, my most grievous fault.
My wife (Barb) and I had gone up to Sedro Wooley to visit our daughter and family, and despite her warning we should bring the pickup (due to the heavy snow on the ground) I decided to bring the car instead as it has all wheel drive, handles well in all weather conditions, and I wanted to gas it up for the weekend.
The roads were in excellent condition, thanks to the hard working men and women of the various state, county, and municipal road crews, so we made the ten-mile trip in our usual fifteen minutes. When we arrived, the roads in “Wooley” (the locals call it that) weren’t in very good shape, but still quite passable. We arrived at our daughter’s house and pulled into our usual parking spot which was, as expected, unplowed. The car came to a stop before I had applied the brake, so I knew I had miscalculated the depth of the heavy snow.
Unlike our Montana snow, which has a water ratio of about twelve inches of snow equivalent to about an inch of rain, our west coast Puget Sound snow was a much heavier three-to-one ratio. Oops.
I tried rocking the car, but the all-weather tires and all-wheel drive simply spun in place. I had miraculously converted our Suzuki into a Zamboni! The car was high centered on compact snow and I was, ironically, in hot water. Fortunately, we had brought a snow shovel with us, so I got out and began to remove snow from all around the car and as far under as I could get. My daughter came out to help and between the two of us we made a lot of space in which to maneuver the car, but we couldn’t get it off Mound Everest; we should have brought a flag to stick atop what was turning out to be the car’s new home (at least until the spring thaw).
Fortunately, a kind soul had parked nearby to pick up his child from the school around the corner, saw our predicament, and offered his help. He was about the size and shape of an NFL lineman and, after a few moments of applying his strength (and traction boots) to the situation, I was able to gain enough momentum to come off the mound and back onto the hard-packed (but smooth) road. We shoveled the rest of the parking spot (Mound Everest became a much flatter Madison Valley bench), and I parked the car as initially I had intended, and the crisis was finished off with hearty thanks, high fives, back slaps, and slowly subsiding heavy breathing (me).
Sometimes we get in over our heads without realizing that’s what we’re doing. We can see clearly what’s on the surface, but we’re often unaware of just what lies beneath. While the snow in the parking spot was only a few inches higher than the surrounding ice-packed road surface, that area is actually about six inches or so lower than the road that runs alongside it. Consequently, the moment I decided to park there, it was “Sayonara, baby.”
We all have days like that. We do the best we can, we miscalculate or make a mistake, get stuck, and then have to find a way out. I was fortunate that I had a decent tool on hand (and no, I usually don’t travel with a shovel in my car – that was serendipity). I was fortunate to have my own family at hand to help. I was blessed that a stranger had had mercy and lent us his strength. Despite several failed attempts to escape, we persevered; we did not give up; we prevailed and we overcame adversity. Thank God!
The moral is as old as life on earth: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. After all, there’s no business like snow business. And that’s how icy [sic] it here in this, our valley.