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Katherine
01-24-2014, 05:30 PM
The Hell of a Frozen Hell Part 1:
1-6-14
Dad on the phone to me last week, “Be sure to put that Diesel 911 in the tank of the tractor. Make sure you get the stuff in the red bottle.”
Me to Dad,” Ok, sure dad, I’ll get some.”
We hang up and I promptly get busy with something else and completely forget Dad’s advice. For those of you who don’t know my background, Dad has been driving 18 wheelers for over 45 years and has a little experience dealing with diesel engines in cold weather.

The snow starts moving in last Sunday.
Paul on the phone to me, “Maybe you should move your car to the bottom of the driveway.”
Me to Paul,” Why, we’re not supposed to get that much snow.”
We hang up and the Volvo stays in its parking spot in front of the house.

Monday morning 5:30 A.M.
Nico is the first to go out for his run. As I look over the vast sea of whiteness I decide it may be time plow. I suit up for the endeavor and fire up the tractor. It starts up with no hesitation. I did at least remember to plug in the block heater. I drove the tractor out of its parking spot and pulled it off to the side of the driveway, then climb off to make an adjustment to back blade. Just as I’m climbing back up to the driver’s seat, the engine dies and will not restart. It did not even produce a cranking sound.
About this time I get a text from boss saying that the office is closed for the day. I decide to wait for the sun to come up to deal with the tractor. In the meantime, I fire up my work laptop to at least try and stay on top of stuff. My work laptop promptly decides that my email profile does not exist so I get to spend an hour on the phone with the company tech support listening to an Indian accent so thick I could hardly understand the lady and she was apparently new to the job as well. My nerves are starting to stretch by now, but at least my computer is working and the sun is up.


I redress in my typical snowplowing outfit and head back out. I quickly realize that my typical snow plowing outfit will not be suitable for this plowing. By now I was on the phone with Paul and consulting him about the tractor’s predicament. The lack of cranking sounds but the presence of lights has us suspicious of the starter solenoid. Using a jumper wire to get around the solenoid produces a nice engine cranking sound. However, there is still no cheerful chugging of a diesel engine, the fuel has gelled. I suddenly remember Dad’s advice.



I look over to where the Volvo sits thinking that just maybe my all-wheel drive darling can make it through. It should be noted that I haven’t made a serious survey of the snow depth at this point. As I’m driving the Volvo off its parking pad it suddenly occurs to me that the unknown depth may be an issue. Unfortunately the Volvo is already sunk in to snow deeper than its bumper with no hope of escape without the intervention of AAA. Paul’s advice is replaying through my head and I start calling around to the local plowing companies.


Deciding to follow one bit of Paul’s advice, I drag extension cords out to the tractor to plug in the block heater and hook up the battery charger so at least the tractor has that much going for it. This is where I discover that the latches to the tractor’s hood a covered in ice and frozen. Even judicious application of a mallet is not making them budge. I was almost ready to cry in frustration at this point. Out of desperation, I call down to our next door neighbor’s (Jim & Mary) house to plead for help. They very kindly come to my rescue. After much pounding, Jim manages to get the hood open on the tractor open and I get the charger hooked up.
Since their house is close to the road (short driveway) and they’ve already dug out their vehicles, Mary offers to give me a ride to town to get the Diesel 911. She also points out that before I start the trek down to their place, I should probably put more layers on. I follow her advice. So three would be Eskimos set out to make the trek down the driveway. It was at this time I realized just how deep the powder was, over our knees the entire way. Every 20 feet or so we’d stop to catch our breath, it was a long cold walk. We eventually arrive at the back deck of the neighbor’s house. At least I assume it was the back deck. The drifts were over 4ft tall in that part of their yard and the deck is only about 2.5 feet above the ground. Mary and I decide then and there that we have accomplished our exercise goal for the year. I also take a moment to call the plowing company again and am reassured that they will get to me that day. My sincere hope is that they get to me before I have to make the trek back up the driveway.
Mary and I borrow Jim’s truck and head on in to town. We found that while the roads were cleared of most of the snowpack, what was left had been beaten into a nice ice skating rink. Hell itself was pretty quiet that afternoon. All the residents were too busy trying to stay warm and help each other get dug out. Even the bar was devoid of life signs. Mary and I saw many signs that the elusive plow trucks were periodically making sweeps through Hell, but we never spotted the trucks themselves. I gazed with great envy at those with snow blowers and a mere 50 feet to clear. We managed to reach the auto parts store without hitting anything or being hit by anything. When I inquired at the counter if they had any of Diesel 911, I was promptly told yes, but only in the 80 oz. size. The 80 oz. size treats 250 gallons of diesel; the tractor has a 6 gallon tank. A bit of an over kill, but at this point, I don’t care. I plunk down my money and run out there with my prize in hand.


The trip back to the frozen homesteads was far from uneventful. The road to Hell was indeed a slippery slope. At the Darwin Rd. turn (Yes Darwin does lead to hell), Mary and I both became passengers as the truck felt the need to disregard her intentions to brake and turn. A local church provided a scenic turnaround spot from which to reattempt the maneuver. The second time it was completed successfully and we safely arrive back at our little pieces of hell.


With a knot growing in the pit of my stomach, I survey the perspective climb back up my driveway. I decide it is time to have a nice visit with Jim & Mary (I really don’t see them enough anyway). They, like Paul and me, use wood to heat their house. Their front room is a toasty 70 °F. While waiting for the plow truck we settle in with some snacks and watch a movie. Still no plow truck and it is getting dark. Mary graciously invites me to stay for dinner. I gladly accept.



While dinner is in the oven the plow truck arrives and begins the back and forth maneuvers to remove snow from the lower portion of our driveway. Just as we are digging in to dinner, Mary looks out the window and sees that the plow truck is no longer moving. We watch for a few moments, but figure that the driver may have stopped to check the driveway ahead of the truck. We continue to eat dinner. About a half hour later we all look out the back windows and notice that the truck has not moved and start to become concerned. I try calling the driver from cell phone, but get no answer. I call the number for his dispatcher, his wife, and find out that he had called her about 30 minutes earlier saying that he was stuck and waiting for a friend to come pull him out. Since that call he has not been answering his phone or texts. His wife is starting to worry. Mary and I decide to trek out there to see if everything is all right. We suit back up. This time I don a pair of Jim’s old hunting overalls as an added layer of protection. Mary and I waddle our camouflage snow suited selves out to the plow truck.


The plow truck has managed to plow a path just wide enough for itself. When we actually get up to the truck, there is maybe 6 inches of clearance on each side. We spot the driver slumped down in his seat. Mary taps on the driver side window, but gets no response. I tap on the passenger side window and also get no response. We start knocking harder and are soon beating in the roof and sides of the truck, no response from the driver and the doors are locked. Mary and I look at each other over the truck, having mutual looks of horror. I decide to call 911.

Katherine
01-24-2014, 05:31 PM
Part 1 continued:

I give the 911 operator all the information I can. The 911 operator asks us if we can get the driver out of the truck and laid out on the ground. The driver weighs about 300 lbs., the doors cannot open more than a few inches, and they’re locked. A smart ass comment runs through my mind at the repeated attempts of the 911 operator to have us remove the driver from the vehicle, but I decide there is a time and a place for such things and then wasn’t it. Mary heads back down the driveway to wait for the EMTs and fire department, while I keep pounding on the truck and trying to find a way into it.


The 911 operator finally understands that the truck is locked and asks me to find the keys for it. Another crass comment runs through my head, but I let that one pass too and call the driver’s wife. I calmly inform her of the circumstances and she proceeds to go in to full “Oh, my God!” screaming panic, and she doesn’t have a set of keys. Fortunately by this time, the fire department and EMT’s are pulling up to the end of our driveway. There trucks are too big to make it up the driveway between the drifts so Mary is leading them on foot back to the plow truck. I am continuing to beat on the truck.



Just as Mary and the fire Marshall get up beside the driver’s window of the truck, the plow truck driver jerks into motion. With a look of wide eyed surprise and perhaps a little terror he lowers the driver side window of the truck, leans his head out, and asks,”Who are you people and is something wrong?”



Both Mary and I nearly collapse into the snow bank. It seems the driver had been plowing for almost 30 straight hours. When his truck became stuck, he called a friend to come pull him out but was waiting while his friend was on another job. He’d fallen asleep while he was waiting. He was rather indignant when he learned that we thought he was dying and called 911. Once the fire Marshall was satisfied that there was no medical emergency he headed back to his rig parked on the roadside, although he refused to leave until the stuck plow truck was freed from our driveway.


I ask the driver about continuing to have our driveway plowed. He says that his friend’s truck is bigger and can complete the job when he gets there. I decide to wait with the plow truck driver and Mary head back to her house.


After an inordinately long time, the second plow truck arrives, frees the 1st truck and begins plowing the last 2/3 of our driveway. The strategic moves and planning carried out by the two trucks working in tandem to get that hell of a driveway plowed should be used by the military when planning troop maneuvers! It took another mere two hours, but, at long last I could get back to my home and dogs that needed to pee quite badly by then.


Cost of having the driveway plowed $250. Have terrific neighbors, PRICELESS


And so went day one of polar vortex one. Story to be continued.

Paul Pless
01-24-2014, 05:36 PM
I redress in my typical snowplowing outfit. . .how's come i've never seen this outfit?

seanz
01-24-2014, 05:38 PM
Good story, great neighbors.
:)

seanz
01-24-2014, 05:39 PM
how's come i've never seen this outfit?


It's warm, it's comfortable......Katherine hides it from you?

:)

CATALINA GUY
01-24-2014, 05:48 PM
Well good luck to you and Paul and your neighbors I hear the Ice cream truck, so I'll have to get up from the lawn chair. Can't wait for the rest of the story. My sister lives in Waterford.

Duncan Gibbs
01-24-2014, 06:50 PM
Great story well told... And father really does know!

When we get flooded in (at least once a year) we just stay put, and ensure we always have a bit of a bunker larder for such an eventuality. It would seem to me that big snow drifts are just the sub-zero equivalent of flood waters.

Canoeyawl
01-24-2014, 06:52 PM
So - the tractor, Did it survive?

Paul Pless
01-24-2014, 06:54 PM
So - the tractor, Did it survive?the local small diesel mechanic picked it up yesterday; haven't heard from him yet. . .

Ross M
01-24-2014, 06:59 PM
Hell of a story - thanks!

Chip-skiff
01-24-2014, 07:04 PM
Sounds like home.

Glad you survived.

LeeG
01-24-2014, 07:13 PM
Thank you Katherine, that was a gem.

S/V Laura Ellen
01-24-2014, 07:38 PM
There is a reason I call it the 'Driveway from Hell'.

Ian McColgin
01-24-2014, 07:47 PM
Well told. Thank you.

Domesticated_Mr. Know It All
01-24-2014, 07:56 PM
" I suddenly remember Dad’s advice. "


I hate when that happens.
Great story Kat.

Steve McMahon
01-24-2014, 08:11 PM
Looking forward to part 3.
I can sympathize with the plow driver. I was having a nap at a rest stop along the highway with my head resting against the door window and was awakened by cop who rapped on the glass with his mag-lite. It was a good thing I still had my seat belt on or I probably would have put a dent in the roof with my head. We had a good laugh about it after a few minutes.

Hwyl
01-24-2014, 08:33 PM
If the tractor would not crank, it might be because the computer was telling it not to, because of some fault (water in the fuel?) Call me Dr Doom, I hope I am wrong.

LeeG
01-24-2014, 08:35 PM
Looking forward to part 3.
I can sympathize with the plow driver. I was having a nap at a rest stop along the highway with my head resting against the door window and was awakened by cop who rapped on the glass with his mag-lite. It was a good thing I still had my seat belt on or I probably would have put a dent in the roof with my head. We had a good laugh about it after a few minutes.

I had my deflating moment when gf and I cycled on the path one summer and it's stinking hot. We're stopped as she's fiddling with something and I hang my head on my arm and a car comes to a stop at the cross walk and the window rolls down "is everything ok ?" with a concerned look in my direction. I realize I no longer look like a fit athlete but an overweight guy who might be having a heart attack. Jeez

Paul Pless
01-24-2014, 08:39 PM
Jeezlol

David G
01-24-2014, 08:41 PM
Yes... reminds me of living in New Hampshire. What would normally be a quick, casual, act can turn into an hours-long ordeal. Even the natives sometimes got caught unprepared... and paid the price. It does build good relationships with your neighbors, for sure!

Breakaway
01-24-2014, 09:07 PM
Great story telling, Kat.

BTW--do tractors have "safety lanyards" like powerboats--you know, a kill switch or deadman of some sort? Crank and no start is often simply a problem with that circuit.

Kevin

jack grebe
01-24-2014, 09:27 PM
Yep......I can relate.....



It dropped down to the lower 40's last night...
I'm up at zero dark thirty, rummaging around the garage to find
my winter coat and gloves just so I can ride the motorcycle
to work......sheesh.....

StevenBauer
01-24-2014, 09:39 PM
Looking forward to part 3.

Me, too. And part 2.




Steven

Nanoose
01-24-2014, 09:43 PM
Sun came out today. Blue sky, so I had the top down on the Beamer to and from work.

You were saying? ;)

So sorry for your hellish day, Kat. :(

seanz
01-24-2014, 09:50 PM
Great story telling, Kat.

BTW--do tractors have "safety lanyards" like powerboats--you know, a kill switch or deadman of some sort? Crank and no start is often simply a problem with that circuit.

Kevin

Seat cut-out?

jack grebe
01-24-2014, 09:52 PM
Sun came out today. Blue sky, so I had the top down on the Beamer to and from work.


If you every decide to become a snowbird Nanner, you will always have a tour guide down here.........

Nanoose
01-24-2014, 10:45 PM
Thanks, Jack!
But the in-laws were in FL for 20 years, so we've had our fill. Sure is flat there! ;)

jack grebe
01-24-2014, 10:53 PM
Thanks, Jack! Sure is flat there!

yep.....and warm.....:cool:

Concordia...41
01-24-2014, 11:36 PM
All kidding aside, I can't imagine. :(

One of the news stations carried a story out of Minnesota on frostbite. Folks occasionally speed along my road, but I'm not likely to get frostbite getting the mail. Geeze :(

S/V Laura Ellen
01-24-2014, 11:41 PM
...but I'm not likely to get frostbite getting the mail. Geeze :(

Not according to Lefty!:d

Concordia...41
01-24-2014, 11:51 PM
Not according to Lefty!:d

ROTFLMAO! I can still see him sitting here at my computer in the multiple layers of clothes and the stocking hat and gloves he had Carter FedEx to him :D :D

Breakaway
01-25-2014, 01:35 AM
Seat cut-out?

Sure. generally these are just a ground wire. If the wire gets loose, corrodes, whatever....its like someone isn't in the seat even when someone is.

kevin

Syed
01-25-2014, 08:13 AM
Bravo Katherine, in general it is all hubby's fault. I hope you did not forget something. |:)

Syed
01-25-2014, 12:10 PM
Seat cut-out?
http://img2.wfrcdn.com/lf/79/hash/5589/6715913/1/Shower%2BChair%2Bwith%2BCut-Out%2BSeat,%2BBack,%2Band%2BArms.jpg

Mrleft8
01-25-2014, 01:59 PM
All kidding aside, I can't imagine. :(

One of the news stations carried a story out of Minnesota on frostbite. Folks occasionally speed along my road, but I'm not likely to get frostbite getting the mail. Geeze :(

Well thanks for finally telling me about the electric blanket, the day I have to drive 30 hours straight back to the balmy shores of New England after sleeping in my overcoat for 3 weeks in St Frozenstine!....... BOSS! ;)
:rolleyes:
:D

seanz
01-25-2014, 02:19 PM
http://img2.wfrcdn.com/lf/79/hash/5589/6715913/1/Shower%2BChair%2Bwith%2BCut-Out%2BSeat,%2BBack,%2Band%2BArms.jpg

Ok, seat ignition cut-out. I don't think they spend that long on the tractor.


Laughing.
:D:D:D

Spin_Drift
01-26-2014, 12:28 PM
Great and entertaining story, Kat. That's a LOT to go through. Glad it's over and hopefully it won't happen again. What's your Honey doing leaving you alone in Hell this time of the year? Can't take the weather....(wink)??

chas
01-26-2014, 05:39 PM
Sounds like good Ski-dooin' weather!! /Jim