Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Getting Home

Living in hill country has both advantages and disadvantages, like living anywhere I guess. One nice thing, in the summer-time, is the cool forest canopy above your head in many places as you traverse the winding roads that lead toward home. Those same trees that make up the welcome summer canopy have blooms or buds in spring that let you know winter is finally over. In fall, they turn colors from light yellow to burgundy, telling you that the heat of summer is past, but warning you of the winter to come. The trees are a large part of why I like life in the country.

Through no fault of their own, though, the trees that I love so dearly can also become obstacles to my getting to town or returning home. A bad wind-storm (Remember when they called them that?), lightning or a heavy snow can lay those trees across the roadways, blocking them to safe passage. I HAVE run over a small tree or two in my time, but I don’t normally advise it. The situation worsens if I’m at work and my wife and dog are home with no electric. My wife’s body doesn’t regulate its temperature properly, so the times when she needs air-conditioning or a working furnace are particularly worrisome. At those times, I’ll do whatever it takes to get home as soon as possible after work (not a problem at the moment, since I’m still unemployed).

As a result, I used to always keep an axe, a chainsaw (with gas, oil and wrench), and a small pruning saw in the truck year ‘round. A 20 foot length of log-chain rounded out my equipment. The pruning saw was for small limbs that were unavoidable and would scratch the paint. The axe was for slightly larger work. The chainsaw, obviously, was for trees that were beyond my enthusiasm with an axe. I’ve chopped through some big stuff in my time, but usually only to get a chainsaw unstuck. (I used to work in timber, after all!) I had places to hook a chain on either end of my truck, so the log chain came in handy a few times when I had to pull the logs I’d bucked out of the road. I often carried a cant-hook, too, so that was another option. Wedges and a heavy hammer helped to reduce the likelihood of a stuck saw scenario.

Trees aren’t the only thing that can keep you from getting home, though. I’ve driven through 12 inches of snow on more than one occasion to get home to my wife and dog. That was without tire-chains. After floundering through 20 inches of snow to get TO town one time when our juice was off in freezing weather, I invested in a set. Even four-wheel drive will only get you so far without decent traction. When I got this truck, I got two sets of chains for it, so I can have them on every tire if I ever need them. I haven’t yet used them in the seven years I’ve had them, but they stay in the truck year ‘round. You never know when you could get forced off the road into the mud, either.

Along with chains, I carry my spare tire under the hard, lockable tonneau, rather than under the truck. Have you ever tried to get a spare from under a truck when it’s a rear tire that’s flat and the road berm has a hump in it? I also carry a round-point shovel and a garden rake year ‘round and an aluminum grain scoop in winter for snow. I’ve used them all at one time or another. And also, be sure you know how to change a flat ON THE CAR YOU’RE DRIVING; they vary some in jack placement.

I also carry a small toolbox full of tools, a large flashlight with rechargeable battery, an extra truck battery, a jump-starter box (basically another battery) and a set of jumper cables. Since the truck is fairly new still, I don’t carry anti-freeze mix and oil, but I should. The extra battery and such is mostly for other folks, but they’re there if I need them. Incidentally, I also keep a Woodsman’s Pal and a billhook or fascine knife in the truck also. As you can see, I plan on getting home, one way or another! © 2013


Chickenmom said...

Seems as if you are well prepared for storms and that you have extras to help another traveler! New cars don't even have a spare tire anymore - I bet a lot of people don't even realize that until it's too late.

21shergar said...

There aren't as many trees in County Durham as you have around your way, Gorges, but every autumn I look forward to the changing hue of the leaves - wonderful. As for your diligence in being prepared, it's admirable.

Gorges Smythe said...

When I was going to school, shergar, West Virginia was said to be 75% forested. These days, it's up to 80%. I miss the little family farms, but I love the forest, too. Thanks for the compliment. I hope all is well with you, I haven't heard from you for a while.

Keith H. Burgess said...

Same here Gorges, all a part of living in the country. But recently our local council in all it's wisdom(NOT), decided to grade the dirt roads in the pouring rain!!!! The roads to our property became impassible for anything but a 4WD, & even then it was dodgy going! They blocked of access to the road from the sealed road, but there is no alternative route to take!!!
So my wife had to get out of her 4WD in the pouring rain to move the councils barricades!!!!!
They just do not understand country ways or country people. The mind boggles.

Gorges Smythe said...

Keith, that's the problem when the people who make the decisions have their feet under a desk, rather than on the ground.