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Anderson: You did what!
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Anderson: You did what!

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Susan Anderson

Susan Anderson

In a drastic example of not listening to advice, I took a rear-wheel drive truck I’d never driven up Casper Mountain on a particularly icy, snowy, dangerous day. It didn’t go well.

You see, I never drove a rear-wheel truck in snow before, but I figured, what could go wrong? I’m an experienced snow driver. Ever since I moved to Wyoming four decades ago, I have driven either front-wheel or all-wheel drive cars. Plus, I generally have studded snow tires, since the main way I entertain myself for eight months of the year is to drive up Casper Mountain to ski.

On the day of the truck escapade, it was snowy enough that I insisted that my husband take the sturdy all-wheel drive car we share on a road trip to Gillette, instead of his old truck. He looked at me as he left and said, “Well, it’s too bad you can’t take that truck up the mountain. It’s just not as good on snow as the cars you have been driving.” I shrugged and waved goodbye.

Then big, fluffy flakes kept falling. It was Saturday and it seemed criminal not to take advantage of a lovely snowfall, since, who knows, spring may come some day and end the ski season. The road was reasonably clear from our house up to the top of the mountain, where about two inches of new snow covered the icy road. No big deal. But as I approached the Casper Mountain Trails Center, I was shocked when the truck began slipping around on a very gentle slope. I touched the brakes and the car paid absolutely no attention, sliding sideways.

I was shocked. And a little scared when it happened again in a few minutes. Then came a reasonably steep hill and brakes again had little impact. I thought I was very smart to pull over at the Skunk Hollow parking lot to simply turn around and go home. Wow, my husband will be impressed with my good judgment, I thought.

But on my virtuous climb back up the hill I had just slid down; trouble escalated. Soon I was wedged sideways across the road just like the huge container ship that shut down the Suez Canal last month. After a car full of teenaged girls swung dangerously around me (and showed their impatience by gestures), I gave up and carefully slid backwards to the parking lot at the bottom and called AAA. At that point, believe it or not, things got worse.

“You want a tow truck to take you about two miles down the mountain?” asked the person I called. “How far off the road are you stuck?” When I explained that I wasn’t stuck, just stupid, she informed me that AAA wouldn’t cover it. I wondered, am I supposed to risk my life driving down the mountain and when I careen off the road and hit a tree, then you’ll tow me? Luckily, a private tow truck company was willing to rescue me for a fee and the driver turned out to be a guy who had moved to Casper from Las Vegas in a rear-drive truck, which he soon sold after having to be towed one too many times.

No harm, no foul, I concluded, after paying $125 for a two-mile tow. The real winner in the episode was my husband, who has vivid proof, if any was needed, of my stubbornness when I want to do something. It’s so nice in a marriage when one person is so clearly wrong that it costs a $125 tow and rude gestures from a car full of teens.

I’m pretty sure he’s tucking this away for the next time he offers automotive advice. And I even think there’s a good chance I’ll listen. Unless I really, really want to go skiing.

Susan Anderson is a long-time television and print journalist living in Wyoming.

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