That's what goes through your mind as you're flying off the road into a snow bank. It happens to everyone at least once at some point or another... some people are lucky enough not to have it happen often or in any dangerous spots.
Me? Well, I'm lucky -- both in a bad way and a good way.
On my way into Fairbanks at dawn yesterday, the roads were a bit slick because it has been a little warm and we had thaw/freeze ice in some parts. I was already driving slowly when I came around a blind curve and almost ran smack into a grizzly bear in the middle of the road. Luckily for both of us, there was a patch of ice right there and I skidded off into a ditch on the shoulder instead of plowing into Mr. Bear. He took off into the woods and I managed to muscle my way out of the ditch with judicious use of 4WD and forward-reverse rocking.
The Weather Liars, well LIED, again, as usual. Those light intermittent snow flurries were neither light or intermittent; but I was already half-way to Fairbanks and we really needed to pick up G's asthma meds (I am really getting PO'd at the pharmacy right now!) so I continued onward. Ok, so the snow lightened up closer to town and it was pretty warm when I got there... so maybe there was hope.
Haha - NOPE. About an hour through my combat shopping it started to snow in Fairbanks... hard. So I powered through the rest of the mandatory shopping and beat it out of town. The plows were running on the main part of Elliott Hwy, so that looked promising. Unfortunately, the truckers going to and from the oil fields don't care about the plows, and one nearly creamed me since he'd swung out into the oncoming lane to plass the plow at a not-so-ideal stretch of the road. OK - no worries, crisis averted there.
But, the plows hadn't made it to the unpaved portion of the Elliott and it had evidentally been snowing all day... and it was starting to snow even harder. Great... this was going to be a long, slow trip. So, I'm tooling along at maybe 30 (tops), taking it nice and easy on the curves and hills, when all sudden, for no obvious reason whatsoever, Sonja decides that she just really wants to go left right now. So, wham, there we go right off the road, into the ditch with snow up past the runner boards. To make matters worse, there was a ledge about 3 feet away with a medium drop-off. I probably wouldn't die if I went off that ledge, but I definitely would roll the truck and then slide down the rest of the hill. So, I tried a little 4WD rocking... no dice, she was totally dug in and my efforts were making her creep slowly toward the ledge. All the trees that were strong enough for me to winch myself out with were down hill. Great, time to start shoveling and hope someone came by soon.
And, of course, guess what I'd taken out of the truck and forgotten to put back in... you guessed it, the shovel. Not to be paralyzed by such a monumental screw up, I started digging by hand with a tupperware bowl. About 30 minutes later some folks from Minto came past and we started digging her out properly with their shovels. About 10 minutes later, my neighbor's uncle and cousin came past and they decided to try and tug me out with our tug straps. So, we tried tugging me backward downhill. Ewwww... no dice! That just put me even closer to the ledge since the tires were dug in so deep I couldn't turn the wheel, and there was enough resistance that he was starting to skid all over the road behind me. So, back to digging.
And they wouldn't let me help :( I don't know if it was because I was a girl, or that I appear so small and frail, or because I'm a Cheechako, or just because I was the one in trouble. Watching other people work on my behalf while refusing to let me help really makes me feel bad. But we did eventually get her dug out and back on the road. Since I'd just come from shopping, I offered them whatever groceries they might want from the bounty in thanks for their help... but only a couple accepted a drink. Gosh, now I really felt bad.
I made it home, driving even slower since it was snowing even harder. And that's when I fell apart for a few seconds... because even where I was, I could really have died going off the road like that. If I'd gone off just another half-mile up the road, I would have been where there was almost no shoulder and gone off down a very steep drop-off that would really have punched my ticket. Sometimes being able to remain totally calm and methodically detached during an emergency situation has it's drawbacks... total emotional and adrenal meltdown once you're safe and the crisis is over.
Needless to say, I'm not driving into Fairbanks again until after Breakup. I'll break the law and illegally mail order G's meds if I have to... I'm NOT going through that drive again! And, next year, I'm just going to seriously stock up on everything, get his meds sorted out, and plan not to go into town at all between October and April (which was the original plan before getting the dog and having issues with the pharmacy).
As my oldest grand-daughter used to say, "Scary Winksters!"
Sure glad you made it ok. Good people in the hinterlands of Alaska - stuff like that always brings out the best in folks. I remember that same helpful attitude when I lived in North Dakota.
There must be something about living in the boonies that makes folks realize we've all got to stick together if we're going to make it out here!
Y'all take care out there now. :)
Gadzooks! Ever-so-glad to hear you're fine. Getting a curveball like that is part of life. Of course, when you're driving in Alaska in a snowstorm the potential outcomes are much hairier. And you're learning heaps, PCat. Like you said, you'll organize it all differently next year. VIVA! -- Sager
PC, so glad you are okay. Hope life is good.
I can't imagine doing what you are doing but glad it is working out..almsot made it through the first winter!
Glad your ok... Yes the roads are horrid. I missed a road sign by inches after I had slid into on comming traffic, back over to my lane then off into the ditch. I learned real quick siped, studded tires while your in 4wd. Get you into and out of almost everywhere in AK safely. Great investment...
I believe Wall Mart in Fairbanks will ship rx's via the mail plane; Some of their stores in Alaska do--ie Wasilla;
Harry in Reno
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This entry actually brought tears to my eyes as I sat at the breakfast bar in the kitchen... I've heard about the friendly people in AK and this just proves it.
The last time I had a flat tire, on a major 4 lane highway, in rural Southern Missouri, not a single person stopped to help a single white woman stranded on the side of the road. I have AAA and immediately called them but they have a history of not showing up. I had the tired nearly changed when a truck driver finally stopped but he seemed more interested in my 'rack' than my tire. He tried to talk me into his truck to 'wait while he fixed it'. Just then AAA tow truck showed up and the truck driver nearly ran over everyone to get away.
I am a bit fearful of moving to the boonies of AK alone for various reasons but if I have 'neighbors' like yours, I'll be better off up there than here!!!
Geneva - there are dangers everywhere, but here in the boonies of AK I've found that you're much more likely to have some of your stuff go missing while you're away than have anyone mess with your person. I'd personally take theft over assault any day.
People in the boonies do tend to stop and take care of each other, especially during the winter when their help really is a matter of life and death. We all stop to check things out if there is a truck parked on/by the side of the road... most times it's someone taking a leak, or a hunter/trapper checking his gear, or berry pickers... but you just don't assume it's nothing and drive right by, not when you might be the only person to come past them for over an hour.
I was a life long asthma suffer, and upon eliminating gluten from my diet (wheat, barley, rye, oats) it cleared up. the only time i have an attack now is when i accidentally ingest gluten. It is hard to adhere to a gluten free diet, especially in your situation. Perhaps it would eliminate his need for meds at all. I have started reading your blog from the beginning, and i am learning a lot. Thank you.
well I am new to this blog this truth be told this is the first blog i have even read, and your just cought my eye and I stayed up way to late reading them last night but they were so enjoyable to read. so forgive me if mine seems a little long. we also moved over to alaska from the WA state, and now live in fairbanks, I love living here. We came over in early march in 2011, drove through canada, what a drive is all I can say about that, but people are very caring when it is that cold out, and will stop no matter what, thak goodness. I just want to say that the people here are the nicest people on earth well atleast i think so. I also think that in winter they even get nicer. I think it is the only place that you can go to wally world in the winter and leave your car running and know it will not get stollen. well to sum everything up thanks for sharing yoru way of life with us, and i loved the styro-foam tent with us, in wa my dad who lived out in the sticks was going to do, use it to insolate his house, but after getting dinged for not having proper building permit ( wa is very strict on that stuff, they want there money) I did some reserch and didnt think it would hit there codes, but the stuff it actually pretty safe if you know what you are doing ( He also used wood heat). and the wonders of tinfoil (FYI, you can have a wood stove 6 inches from the styrofoam and never melt it as long as you have tinfoil over it and it was a barral stove at that, tinfoil wonderful stuff). I moved all my family here after moving here, so he now lives in salcha. so im going to tell him about your tent, he will think it is pretty cool.
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