Monday, January 25, 2010

The Power of Four

We have two vehicles. One is a VW Jetta with an amazing five and one half inches of road clearance. Leaving our house we must watch for holes and high spots or it will drag. The previous owner let a wheel drop into a pot hole near his home and had to have the oil pan replaced. Just before Christmas we made a U-turn in a parking lot and accidentally let the right front wheel cross a ridge of hard packed snow that had been left by a snow plow. We had to walk to a local business to purchase a shovel to remove the snow from under the engine so the wheels could get enough traction to move the car.

Our second vehicle is a Ford Explorer. It has high clearance, four wheel drive, a small crack in the windshield, a non-functioning external door latch on the passenger side, a rear window that refuses to open, a warped front bumper, a few scratches, lots of squeaks and rattles and a few other non-critical problems.

Last Saturday I hooked to a tandem axle trailer with a wider wheel base than the Explorer and started toward the highway. Between our house and the dirt road was about one-third mile of deep unbroken snow. Both the car and the trailer were plowing the top of the snow. A few times it was necessary to back up a few feet and try again. After few minutes bucking and bouncing we made the dirt road.

The county does not maintain our dirt road. A few times a year, generally after a rain when the ground is soft and dust is minimized, some resident drags the road to reduce wash boarding. On Saturday we found a plowed road. One lane has been roughly cleaned. Large clods of snow has been pushed to each side of the lane so we were driving through a few inches of snow, slush and water. At one point the water had collected about a foot deep and covered the entire road. We pushed through water, slush and ice.

I don't know who plowed the road but Julie plans on saying "thank you". She's going to print a thank you sign and post it by the mail boxes near the black top road which is a commonly used message area.

Snow, water, slush and ice on road.
Snow, water, slush and ice on road. The big holes of water are a foot deep. (Larger version)

Later in the day when we turned I wanted to pull behind the house so we wouldn't have to carry three furniture too far down a walk that hadn't been shoveled. It was a slight uphill grade with a ninety degree turn. Without chains it couldn't be done and it was easier and faster to carry the extra distance rather than install the chains.

I'm always amazed by the power of four wheel drive. We can get by without the Jetta. We can't get by without the Explorer.


Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

I know how you feel. I once owned a Jeep Cherokee, the small, efficient ones they made before all this American excess made them into behemoths. It got me from point A to point B, from Texas to Alaska and all the way back to Florida. I miss it.

1/25/2010 08:13:00 PM  

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