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THE LAST WORD

Four-wheel drives can turn a snowdrift into a piece of cake

Saturday, March 9, 2013 - 12:01 am

I have vowed never again to be without a four-wheel-drive vehicle with large tires and great clearance under the chassis.

Where I live out in the country, the road is narrow and not high on the list for the county trucks to clear when it snows. My driveway is long and steep and makes a 90-degree curve at the top of the hill toward my house.

For years I suffered through heavy snows that made it impossible to get up my driveway. Too poor (or too cheap) to hire somebody to plow the driveway every time there was significant accumulation, I had to leave a car parked down by the road on many occasions and slog through deep drifted snow up and down the hill from the house to make it to and from work.

So it was great on Wednesday to open my garage door, fire up the old GMC Jimmy, put it into four-wheel drive and plow through snow that would be impassable to my little Volkswagen Jetta. My daughter stayed the night, so in order for her to get to work I had to drive the Jimmy up and down the driveway several times to make a path I hoped would get her car onto the road.

We uncovered 6 or 7 inches of snow from her car and had to dig away the deep snow all around it and far enough behind so she could back up into my newly flattened snowpath. After getting hung up a few times and digging out the snow, we finally got her car pointed down the hill and I took over the wheel to see whether I could get it out on the road, leaving her behind.

I swung out of my driveway onto a treacherous country road that had not been plowed and tried to keep her car going up a steep hill through one car’s-width of tire tracks. I soon realizied there was no place to turn around. And I dared not try to back up.

I finally pulled into a cleared driveway almost two miles down the road. My daughter called me on my cell, and I explained where I was. We decided she should catch up to me in the Jimmy and we’d find a place to park her car, go back home in the Jimmy to get what we both needed to go to work and then drive back to her car.

It was another two miles before we found a church parking lot that had been cleared. We pulled off there, left her car, drove back to the house in the four-wheel drive, finished getting ready for work and made the four-mile drive back to her car.

We got back on the road in separate cars and headed to Fort Wayne, snaking slowly and not so surely down the slippery, snow-covered roads, passing a few cars that had slid into ditches and cautiously following behind others, some going no more than 20 miles per hour.

It was a long morning. But we both made it safely. And at work, of course, everyone was telling their own stories of how they couldn’t get their cars out of their parking places or driveways and how they coped with the deepest snow of the year.

Four-wheel drives are great!

Kerry Hubartt is editor of The News-Sentinel.