After we'd taken care of a little shopping for dinner supplies, she said, "I want to go sledding!" We discussed the issue a bit, then finally decided we'd go, so I hauled out my old Flexible Flyer and we went to Ace to get a plastic toboggan.
Goodenow Grove, which was our destination because it has hill specifically made for sledding, was closed. No explanation, just a gate barring access to the stupid place. WTF.
So we turned around and headed back to the Fungal Vale, where we spent a pleasant while in Crete Park, using the smaller and less-steep hills there.
"I want a taller hill!"
...so I thought it over, and concluded we might as well take a trip to Monee Reservoir, which has a sledding hill, and which isn't (usually, anyway) run by morons.
Now, it was after 4 PM, and the roads were the worst they'd been all day. I was driving west on Exchange through University Park when the Jeep's right wheels dropped off the pavement. The road had not been plowed for a few hours and the limits of the pavement were obscured in snow, and I wasn't going faster than 30 in a 40 zone because it was slippery; so I wasn't really shocked or scared when that happened--and WTF, it's a reasonably well-maintained road with a good gravel shoulder, so there wasn't really any worry about it.
So I did what you do when half your wheels go off the pavement: I took my foot off the gas and let the Jeep slow down naturally, and then tried working the wheels back up onto the road once my speed had bled off.
Well, the right front tire went up fine, but the right rear tire did not; and because apparently the University Park public works department couldn't be arsed to spread some f-ing salt, I drove a short distance down the road at an angle with my RR tire hung up on the edge of the pavement. It finally popped over the lip, and because it did so suddenly, the Jeep swung sideways the other way. I was going perhaps 20 MPH at this point, and acted to control the skid just as one is supposed to...but the road was so slippery that the rear end of the Jeep just kept swinging around.
In slow motion, then, the Jeep swung sideways into the path of an oncoming car as I spun the wheel to the left and tried to correct for the skid. We missed the car, and the pirouette continued in slow motion until the Jeep finally came to a stop facing against the flow of traffic, with the left-side wheels off the pavement and on the shoulder.
"Okay," I said to myself, "the Jeep has stopped moving and we didn't hit anything. Everything's fine. All I have to do is turn around."
So I straightened the front wheels and stepped on the gas...and instead of going forward the Jeep went sideways.
I stopped, double-checked the steering position, tried again, and got exactly the same results. The Jeep was now very close to the guardrail.
"What the fuck?" I asked. I tried backing up, and the Jeep went backwards a little bit...and then went sideways, creeping closer to the guard rail. Back into drive, go forward, then grind to a halt and--you guessed it--sideways, the rest of the way into the guard rail.
I was stuck.
...a Jeep, with fully functional 4WD, on a slope that's less than a 20°, and I was stuck.
So I had Mrs. Fungus get out of the truck so I could climb over the center console and get out myself, to assess the situation. (I had to yell at her: "Don't go behind the truck! And get on the other side of the guardrail!") Looking things over I could see that the truck wasn't hung up on anything; the problem was, I simply could not get any damned traction. I could go forward and I could go backward (grinding the driver's side against the guardrail) but I couldn't turn. The front tires simply would not pull the front of the truck up against the slope of the shoulder, shallow as it was.
Before I could start working the problem--I mean, I had literally just gotten out of the truck and around the guardrail myself--a good samaritan pulled off the road. He pulled onto the shoulder...and promptly got stuck himself, despite also having 4WD and much newer tires than the Jeep has. I watched the whole thing; he pulled off the pavement halfway to let cars go around, got hung up on the lip of the pavement, and then ended up corkscrewing himself sideways right into the f-ing guardrail.
It took a third person to pull him out; then he pulled me out. He got three of my four tires onto the pavement; this time my left front tire was off the pavement, and when I tried to get it on the road, I couldn't get enough traction to do it and the guy had to pull me the rest of the way up.
So here's the thing: I was doomed the instant the wheels left the pavement. Even if I'd just let the Jeep come to a stop (to avoid the skid) I could not have gotten it back on the pavement without help. The only thing I could have done was to continue following the road and trying to get back up on the pavement, but as the road had not been salted I probably would have ended up in the very same predicament no matter what I did. And since I didn't have a chance to test my "drive straight and get out that way" idea, I guess I'll never really know if that would have worked, anyway.
I mean, the very fact that the other guy also ended up stuck proves that much. The pavement was icy, the shoulders of the road were more so, and the snow on the shoulder was deep and wet.
I probably could have gotten out by myself: simply drive straight ahead (riding the guardrail and against traffic) until I got to a place where I could drive back onto the pavement. Since the good samaritan showed up so quickly, though, I didn't have a chance, and after he got stuck in front of my truck I didn't have room.
In the end, the damage to the Jeep was slight; the left rear fender flare got a couple gouges in it but it looks as if the sheetmetal was undamaged. The damage to my pride was a bit worse.
But going over the whole incident again, I'm forced to conclude that there was little I could do to avoid it. I was already driving well below the speed limit; I did everything right when the wheels dropped off the pavement and I did everything right when the truck began to skid. If the right rear wheel had not hung up on the lip of the pavement, if it had run up onto the asphalt instead of skidding along the edge of it, everything would have been fine and no skid would have occurred. Until that moment, I had complete control of the vehicle.
If f-ing University Park had just salted the f-ing road....
* * *
After that, Mrs. Fungus and I were so tired we just went home. Dinner was ribeyes, taken from the downstairs freezer and allowed to defrost on the stove; and it was delicious.
She insisted that we start watching Game of
I said "Game of
...so naturally I began making fun of it. The ultimate expression of this came in ep 3 or 4 when a crow was cawing, and I translated, "Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!" (And Mrs. Fungus laughed and told me I'm horrible. Heh.)
Mrs. Fungus and I watched the first eight episodes of the thing last night. Overall the story is pretty worthwhile and I'm finding it entertaining. If the writers could get away from their juvenile "ha ha she said 'fuck'" mindset I think it'd be outstanding. I did enjoy watching the show, and I know I'll enjoy seeing more of it.
But I'm not going to buy the box sets, nor will I bother with the books.
* * *
So apparently Hugo Chavez has bitten the big one. It's not my policy to celebrate anyone's death, but I'm not going to mourn the passing of a communist dictator.
* * *
Potemkin Shopping Mall. Biggest shopping mall in the world, in China, and no one shops there. It's devoid of customers.
* * *
I kind of expected this. There's been a big brouhaha about a nursing home which refused to perform CPR on a dying woman, despite the pleas of a 911 operator. Well, turns out the old woman had a DNR and didn't want any measures taken to extend her life, and the nursing home employee was doing exactly as she should have done. It was the 911 operator who was out of line, not the nursing home or her employee.
Okay? Been there, done that. Mom left explicit instructions as to what she wanted, and I followed them to the letter, and if things had gone a bit differently it just as easily could have been my Mom in this story. Mom didn't want CPR and she didn't want to be intubated, and by jingo that's what she got when she had her stroke. They tried the clot-busting drugs and they didn't help, and she just declined, and we let her go because that's what she wanted.
So if this poor woman wanted to be left alone, the nursing home did exactly the right thing. And like Denninger I think the people who were outraged over this should at least own up to being wrong.
* * *
Guess the carnival sideshow business isn't what it used to be. Guy is covered with tattoos and is shocked and dismayed that he can't find a job.
"He has also changed his name to King Body Art The Extreme Ink-ite or, alternatively, King of Inkland."
WTF, give this guy control of an international corporation immediately! Can't you see how well-qualified he is?
* * *
Anyway, Mrs. Fungus and I went sledding, and the old Flexible Flyer performed flawlessly.
I got that sled for Christmas in 1976 (hence its red, white, and blue motif) and it endured through the following seven winters. After my 16th birthday I stopped sledding much at all (having taken up skiing) and so the sled has spent many a winter since then racked in the garage. But I waxed the runners every time I used it, so it hasn't gotten rusty even after literal decades of disuse.
These days a full-length steel runner sled runs about $120.
Here's hoping that--someday--I can hand this thing down to my son. That would be something else.
* * *
So, this morning I got up and blew down the driveway. It's above freezing today--and supposed to hit the 50s by this weekend--so I don't expect I'll need to salt the driveway.
Have to wonder how much more snow we'll get this year. Well, whatever happens, I'm sure it'll all be due to global warming.