Getting Ready for Winter

Today I’m getting ready for  trip to Pierre that will take all day tomorrow and some of Tuesday as well.  I won’t be taking my truck the whole distance, but the cold weather and travel plans did get me thinking about stowing my winter emergency gear, which has been sitting in my living room since this past summer.

My basic kit includes several things, and I’ll be adding to what’s currently in the bag as well.  I’ve got a couple extra pairs of mittens and a big wooly sweater to go along with the blanket that’s always in the truck, plus some hats, extra bunjee cords, a tarp, cell phone charger, and a few extra plastic bags.

I’ll add a little non-perishable food (well-wrapped against varmints) and a flashlight if there’s not one already in the glove compartment.  The whole deal goes in a contractor bag behind the seats.  I’ve also got a short-handled shovel. I should get some flares and throw in a roll of duct tape for good measure.

The shovel is probably the most important piece of gear in my mind, and it stays in the truck year ’round.  In mud season, it’s useful for getting some tractionable material under the wheels; in winter it’s useful for digging out, and the rest of the time, it’s my in-case-someone-offers-a-perennial-division plant digger.

I’m also going to have to get the sandbags back in the pickup bed soon.  I hate to do that earlier than I need them because they cut down on gas mileage, but my little truck is awful on snow and ice, so it’s an extra measure of safety I won’t do without.

It helps that I grew up driving on snow and ice and that all three states I’ve lived in have more than their share of spooky winter weather, so the winter driving, while occasionally hair-raising, isn’t all that bad.

The worst thing about the truck is the anti-lock brakes, which have brought me a lot closer to having accidents than their absence would.

I guess they’re good for people who aren’t used to driving in bad weather, but they interfere with the ability to control a skid or slide–and in my mind that’s one of the most important driving skills a person can have.  Unfortunately, my mechanics tell me there isn’t really a way to disable them.

We’ve been lucky so far this season–after all, it’s December, and we haven’t see much in the way of snow and ice yet (though there has been more further north, which tends to be the direction I drive the most).

But, it’s coming, just like it always does, so I suppose it’s time to stow the gear and grit the teeth and stoically look ahead to the coming months of uncertain and possibly dangerous weather.

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