Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cruisin' whith Pablo

"The days keep on gettin' longer, the desire to leave keeps on gettin' stronger." "Worlds Away" by Pablo Cruise, one of the best forgotten bands of the 70's.

It's January and the days are getting longer. Thank heaven. But with every snowfall my desire to leave Flagstaff keeps on getting stronger. Have I ever mentioned that I hate snow? Well, I hate snow! My brother Jeff says snow is white fungus. I think its God's punishment for all those people who rode their dirt bikes on Sundays in the summer. Well I didn't ride my dirt bike on Sunday, how come I have to be punished?

Part of what I do for a living is push the fungus off the interstate. Some of what happens out there is just weird. Remember the joke about the not so bright girl who follows the snow plow and follows the snow plow? After a bit the plow driver stops and goes back to ask the young lady what she is doing. She tells him that her dad had told her to follow the snow plow and she would be safe. The driver says "Ok, but I'm through with the Wal-Mart lot and now I'm going to do K-Mart." It's true; people follow the snow plow.

I plow I17 between Flagstaff and just south of Kachina Village. We've had some pretty significant snow storms this winter and during the worst of the storm people will line up behind me. I look in the mirror and see a line behind me for what seems like miles. And in reality it could be miles, I can't see the end of the line. Well, I plow the left lane for quite a while but eventually I need to turn around and go back the other way. I slowly move over to the right lane in order to take the exit and of course the entire line of cars moves over to the right lane with me. That part's ok, but when I take the exit and the first 17 cars follow me up the exit ramp I think that's pretty funny. When I turn left and go over the bridge across the interstate and 6 of them follow me, that's hilarious. But then when I get across the bridge and stop on the on ramp to clear my windows and they wait behind me, that's just stupid.

I'll let you in on a little secret: Plow drivers can't see any better in the snow than you can. In fact you can see better! Consider these parameters: A civilian's headlights are down below his line of sight. The lights illuminate the road in front of the vehicle less than the snow. A plow driver's lights are up high, above the plow when the plow is raised. That means that the lights are shining on the snow more than they are the road and the driver is looking down through the lit snow trying to see the road. I get white out conditions long before you do.

One more little fact: These days we are putting out SALT behind us. Not cinders like the old days. Salt is not a good traction device. In fact, I'm plowing off the snow, leaving a thin layer of ICE behind me. Until the salt has a chance to work, sometimes as long as 15 minutes, right behind me is the worst place to be. Move over into the other lane. Even if it's slushy. Slush will give you more traction than ice. Slow down! Everybody just slow down! I see way too many accidents out there. Cars and trucks upside down with families standing out in the snow wishing they had slowed down. That is those who CAN stand out in the snow. Some folk aren't so lucky. They are trapped in the ride or worse. Plow drivers hate to see accidents. Please slow down in the storms. Your safety and that of others with you and in the cars around you, is more important than getting to your destination sooner.

One other fact: snow isn't good for riding motorcycles in. I've had a ride planed with members of the Flagstaff 6 for several weekends. We've not been able to go for various reasons, not the least of which is the danged SNOW! I hate snow. And then on one the nicest weekends of late, I am on call so I can't leave town. The whole idea is to get out of here; go south where it's warm and there is no snow. Dang fungus. I'll have to content myself with making a modification to The Beast. I'm playing with some extra lights in the rear. I'll post pictures when I'm finished.

Off to sleep now. I don't get much of that lately. I've got a supraspinatus problem in my shoulder which makes it difficult to sleep due to pain. I can't take heavy duty pain killers because I might get called out at any time and I have to be able to function. Whine, whine, whine. I'll go get some cheese to go with that.