The thing about tequila is… just kidding. Unlike this story, today’s tale of misadventure has nothing to do with tequila. It has to do with lots and lots of vodka and one damning, ill-conceived shot of some horrendous cinnamon liqueur. (It was free.) And also, some unfortunate weather.
I woke up on Saturday morning and asked myself, “Where am I?” And then I looked down at my watch, which read 10:30, and asked, “Is that a.m. or p.m.?” Friday night was a doozy. I think…
Here’s the back story: Red Bull’s Frozen Rush, a truck race that took place on ski slopes, has been the center of our universe for a while. It didn’t just go off without a hitch on Friday. It was a great success. So, we celebrated.
Saturday morning didn’t go quite as smoothly. As laid on the floor, gingerly sipping ginger beer and forcing down some DiGiorno, I heard from various sources how terrible the roads were. Sheets of ice = general consensus. It was 12:45 before I deigned to attempt a homeward journey. I successfully (if slowly) navigated 90% of the trip, which was great, because I didn’t have my license on me. But then, I got less than halfway up my mountain-climbing road before my car, Ethel, would go no further. The road hadn’t been sanded at all and the car just couldn’t gain any traction. I bumped the first of many snow banks and somehow turned my car halfway around before it began sliding, sideways, down the hill. I’m not sure if it was the powerful over hang or extraordinary mental fortitude, but I remained calm. I was able to get the car facing the right direction, which gave me false hope. From that point on, I had absolutely zero control over the vehicle. I slid into a snow bank, crawled out of the rut, slid straight into another one, five feet down the road. Rinse and repeat.
As much as it pained me, I decided I had to leave Ethel. The question at this point was whether to hike up to my house or down to someone else’s and call for a ride. Down was a lot shorter. But my phone was dead, so I’d have to knock on a stranger danger’s door and request to use his or her phone, reeking of poor decisions. I opted for the climb.
I had very little water with me and no crampons to speak of, but luckily, I was wearing sturdy boots. I was also still wearing last night’s clothes. And it was raining. I went into survival mode. I put my hood up, hoisted my bags, and began to walk. Well, sort of. The road was far too slippery to walk on, so I had to walk on the side of it. In the aforementioned snow banks, which happened to be covered in a lovely, delicate layer of ice. So each step had to be a deliberate stomp to pierce that and get a foothold in the snow below it. Sometimes, said stomp went down three feet or so, and I emerged looking like I’d peed in my already filthy jeans.
Driveways were the bain of my existence. Each time one approached, I had to analyze the grade and the quality of the ice on its surface. Invariably, they were steep and Zamboni-approved. I crawled across them. Literally, on my hands and knees, and even then, my limbs slid apart like a cat in a tub (come on, you know you’ve done that).
I have this problem. Even though I drive this road every single day, I can never remember how many bends are in it. So I can never place myself, exactly, and this is sort of an issue when you’re ice-climbing your way home with a wicked hangover. I rounded one corner, winded, and realized that I wasn’t even close to the top yet. Yes, I live at the top of this mountain. Anyway, I decided to cut straight through some poor gentleman’s yard. It didn’t look like anyone was home, which was oddly disheartening. I was beginning to fear that I’d slip and break my arm or, worse, my noggin, and have no phone to call for help and no passing motorists in the foreseeable future. All of those freaky Mount Washington stories where the person is discovered like 10 feet from safety played in my head . Don’t think about that.
I finally reached my driveway an hour later. I had fallen, my legs were burning (though possibly from that mechanical bull ride), and I’d spent that hour alternately laughing and crying at the absurdity of the situation. If you happen to be familiar with my driveway, you’ll understand that this was, by no means, the end of my trek. I was about three quarters of the way up it, still stomping, soaking wet from the rain, and sweating. I was. So. Thirsty. Ice-covered boughs of pine and spruce hung before me. One of them was just at mouth level and I thought, I want to lick that. It looked so refreshing. Like a ginsicle. And then I told myself, “Pull it together, woman! You’re 25 feet from your house. You can go inside and drink water!” It was a weird moment.
I hobbled inside, pulled off my wet jacket, downed a gallon of water, and collapsed on the couch. I discovered that Maine (at least our region) was in some kind of state of emergency and that most of the highways were actually closed. The sanding truck had broken down, slid off the road.
This morning, I rappelled down to Ethel. Okay, I hiked down with crampons and every intention of getting to work. I started the car. Okay, it’s moving, that’s a good sign. Oh wait, it’s not stopping. No, no no, it’s not stopping. Snow bank. I called my boss and she said, “I hear the lower road’s flooded anyway. I hate to tell you to hike all the way back up, but…” So I hiked all the way back up and here I sit before you. Carless. If only I had some hand-studded BF Goodrich tires, this story would be entirely different…