By the time you get to read this column, the weather should have given us another roller coaster ride and we will be basking in the lovely autumn sunshine which has almost always followed a short but early warning of the shape of winter to come. It is almost predictable if you have lived in the Peace Country for a number of years, but, by now you will realize that even the Farmers Almanac make errors in its annual forecasts, so keep your winter gear handy, and leave some tools for survival in your car just in case you, or some of your fellow travellers, will need when the ditch arrives just a few miles from your destination.
I used to tell you about candles, flashlights, shovels, matches, and the other survival weapons you might need at a moments notice, but, as I am notoriously negligent about checking my own car?s interior spaces, maybe you should make your own list, and be ready when disaster strikes.
A few years back, when we were heading for home from Dawson Creek after midnight with the thermometer about -30degrees Celsius, just as we headed up the big hill after passing Muskeg Lake our car decided to quit! By that I mean, STOPPED! Instead of trying to comfort me in my misery, my companion, began by berating me for not having candles, matches, etc. Fortunately, as I backed down the hill to be in a safer position on the side of the road, the heat from the engine melted the snow and ice which had piled up on the carburettor, and the car, miraculously, started again!
About half an hour later, when we were going by the first panoramic view of the mountains, we met a hitchhiker! We calculated that this was not one of those people who really wanted to mug us and steal our car, so we offered him a ride back to town. As it was now almost two in the morning and he had seen no other vehicles on the road, he was grateful for the chance to warm a bit before finding shelter in town without having to walk further. We had not seen any tracks off the road, but indeed his truck had gone off the road and must have gone down a gully a few miles back.
We have now spent almost twenty two years in this community and have been witness, and participant in winter driving conditions, I think we can speak with some authority on the funny, or tragic difficulties people have had driving these roads in winter. About the only suggestions we might offer are, use common sense, think before you drive, and do make a list, even if you don?t think you will need one!
Perhaps you will never ever have a problem on our roads, and with our phones now almost always ready to use for help on those lonely miles between towns, things will be improved over the often dangerous trips we used to have. However, I am sure the police, fire department, and ambulance crews, would just as soon not have to go out on emergency trips to pick you up when you get into a bind! In case you haven?t noticed, they are a great group to have in case they are needed, and for us let us be thankful they are ready, willing and able to volunteer their time for our safety! At the very least, smile when you see them and let them know you appreciate the work they do for us.