Thursday nightâ€™s ice storm left a thin layer of ice on our driveway, a 450-foot long stretch of gravel road that climbs a 35-degree grade. With care I made it down the driveway Friday morning without going into a skid.
Friday night the Jeep slipped a few times on the trip back up the driveway but still made the climb without much trouble.
But Fridayâ€™s melting froze into a solid sheet of ice from a low of 11 degrees overnight and the driveway that greeted us on Saturday morning was twice as treacherous as the day before. Salt or other de-icers wouldnâ€™t work in such cold temperatures and a pick axe wouldnâ€™t even break through the frozen tundra that was now our driveway.
But what the hell. I’m a macho country boy, unafraid of ice. I put the Jeep in four-wheel-drive low and started down a driveway that could easily double as a ski ramp. It started to slide almost immediately. I resisted the urge to use brakes that wouldnâ€™t work anyway and concentrated on keeping the car headed straight as we picked up speed and plunged headlong towards the bottom of the driveway where a creek threatened on both sides. Amy watched from the comfort and warmth of the house, phone in hand, fingers ready to punch in “911” when needed.
The Jeep tried to veer to the left. I corrected with a slight turn on the wheel and a gentle touch to the accelerator. Too much Then it veered right and into a sideways slide. I held on, knowing all I could do was ride it out, until it bounced to a halt sideways on the road, the rear wheels resting in what would need to be a rebuilt flower bed come spring. The ice had melted enough in the lower part of the driveway to let me straighten out the Jeep and drive on.
By late afternoon the ice melted on the lower part of the driveway but not on the upper, steep part where trees blocked the sun. I tried heading up the hill but hit solid ice about half way up. Momentum carried me another 75 feet before the Jeep shuddered to a stop and then started sliding back down hill, picking up speed as I lunged downhill backwards towards certain disaster. Nothing to do but hold the wheel straight and hope I didn’t hit any of the trees that line the driveway. Somehow, I managed to keep it straight before hitting gravel and stopping.
Stubborness overrode sanity as I made two more attempts to scale this ice Everest with the Jeep. Failure. Abject failure and a stupid exerecise that wiped out two driveway perimeter lights when the Jeep veered onto the side of the road on one downward slide and came to a stop with the back end hanging periously over the ravine that plunges into the woods below.
At that point, self-preservation overrode stubborness. I chopped out enough ice to get needed traction to carefully drive the Jeep off the edge and back onto the road. Defeated, I drove to the bottom of the driveway, shut the Jeep down, and managed to climb to the top without falling.