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Thank you John (and Fedex)

Joined: 10/4/2009
Posts: 6

My wife and I had to drive into Reno (about 60 miles NW of our home) for an appointment in mid-morning this last Friday. It was lightly snowing and it looked fairly safe but we decided to drive our pickup because it is big and ugly and safe looking…bad decision. I didn’t really consider how light a pickup truck is in the rear section and how slick the roads were going to be.

The Truckee River runs through a canyon just East of Reno and Interstate 80 is routed through the canyon as well. It can be a hazardous place as it seems to be one of the primary places in North America for the Pacific winds to leak into the Western desert. By the way, what was that Spanish explorer thinking when he named the “Pacific” (peaceful) Ocean while observing it from the coastal hills? When he got down closer to the shore he should have said to his scribe; “Hey wait… delete that”.

It was still snowing but the road looked to be in pretty good shape. The sane drivers were moving along at about 40-45 Mph and, of course, the ever present highway idiots were zipping by at 70-75. As we entered the most treacherous area of the canyon the road began to change… apparently conditions were just right to turn Interstate 80 westbound into a skating rink. In a ten mile stretch we counted 23 vehicles that had been involved in accidents; spin outs, jack-knifed big rigs, 3 roll-over accidents (one that had apparently rolled multiple times and had come to rest wheels up).

Traffic slowed to a crawl but I was still moving along driving 30-35 Mph in the right lane. I eased off the accelerator to slow down, being careful not to touch the brakes when, suddenly, the back end of my truck decided that it wanted to trade places with the front. Being an experienced winter dirver I steered into the skid which, of course, caused a smaller counter skid etc. While I was working on that, I was aware that a Fedex big rig was bearing down on me from behind in the left lane. To the truck driver’s credit, he realized that I was in trouble and didn’t panic, He backed of his accelerator and gave me the time and space I needed to recover from the skid.

Once, many years ago, just home from Vietnam, I was a driver for Yellow Cab Company of Denver, Colorado, I went through their driving course and I drove through the bad winter of 1971 in my “Checker” cab with studded snow tires on all four wheels. I also spent time that winter hanging out with my friend John, playing and skidding in any number of open fields and parking lots around Denver and Littleton in his VW dune buggy. By default this "California boy" became a good winter driver.

So I would like to express my thanks. Without my friends at Yellow Cab of Denver safety department, without a great piece of driving by the anonymous Fedex big rig driver there would have been a 24th accident on I80 Friday morning. Special thanks to my buddy John and his “bune duggy”. People thought we were just crazy kids playing in the snow… ummmmmmm, maybe not.

Oh, John, by the way...that time we moved a mattress across Denver with your dune buggy; me in the passenger seat holding the mattress on the roll bars above our heads with my right hand and shifting with my left hand and you, holding onto the mattress with your left hand and steering with your right... I haven't found a use for that skill set yet.
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