KENNARD: Ideas for staying warm when the ice comes

David Kennard

Chief Editor

We should probably talk about the weather, considering things are going to get pretty awful pretty quickly here.

Freezing rain is expected to fall in the area Saturday evening, which could prompt more than a few short prayers as people make their way to church on Sunday.

Here’s my advice: take it easy, wear polarized sunglasses, and run your car’s windshield defroster before you go.

As a newcomer to the area, I still haven’t understood North Carolina weather, but I’m no stranger to extreme weather.

During my formative years, my mother dragged us to Kansas every summer to visit my grandparents, Bert and Dorothy. Yes, my grandmother’s name was Dorothy – from Kansas, and she survived a number of tornadoes in her 92 years, although none of them took her to Oz.

We learned early on that when Grandma told us to head downstairs, she meant it.

However, most of my “extreme weather” experience comes from growing up in Denver, where cold meant snow and snow meant skiing. From my early teens until I left for college, my brother and I escaped to the highlands as often as possible, usually doing our first runs on Halloween each year.

The winter after graduating from high school, I started working as a ski instructor in Winter Park, which sits at the back of Berthoud Pass in the Colorado Rockies. The once-a-week job paid next to nothing, but I was able to ski for free all winter.

My winter driving skills got pretty good after a while, and although my 1973 Chevy Nova handled slippery mountain roads horribly, I learned to drift around those hairy turns with ease. And I could put on or take off a set of tire chains with the speed of a pit crew.

During some of those early jaunts into the Colorado highlands, friends and I had discovered cross-country skiing, which led to winter camping in some pretty remote areas.

On one such trip, a good friend and I skied at a site I had scouted several weeks before.

During this early winter scouting mission, I had walked over and buried a huge pot of peppers and a Coleman stove in a small snowdrift which, by October, had already piled up against the trunk of a large Douglas fir.

I reached as high up the tree as I could and tied fluorescent ribbon – knowing that when we were skiing weeks later the snow would make my hidden treasure hard to find.

I was right. When we arrived to find the forest floor now hidden under deep snow, we searched for over an hour for the tape marking the location of our dinner. We eventually found the ribbon just below the surface of the snow, which by my calculations was easily over 8 feet deep.

We found chili dinner, dug a snow cave, and hunkered down for the night. After a not too miserable night in the snow, we skied and went to a roadside restaurant in Fraser, Colorado, where we had the best pancake breakfast I’ve ever had.

So when ice and snow arrive this weekend, take it from a seasoned cold weather survivor; throw a blanket in your trunk, and maybe a granola bar or two – and don’t forget the chili.

David Kennard is the editor of The Robesonian. Contact him at [email protected]

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