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the back end of the car wanted to take the lead

December 17, 2008
2008 Winter West Coast Road Trip-4th in a series

dscn5716I slept in a little here at the Olympic Hostel and so did Joy.  We finally awoke and looked outside and discovered another two or three inches of snow and it was still coming down.  This ought to be interesting.  After breakfast, Joy and I swapped contact info and I was on my way.

Once I had reached Port Angeles, I called Lloyd, my dear friend from Intermec and Ryzex who now lives a right and proper retired life on the Washington coast, to let him know where I was.  He had invited me to stop by.  The snow was still coming down, pretty hard in some places and the road was completely covered and fairly well packed with snow.  dscn5722What wasn’t white was green.  That’s something I’ve always loved about the Pacific Northwest, the winters are not as barren and brown as they are back east.

Some of this day’s drive took me through the Olympic Mountains and national forest and some rain forest on the coast, so it was quite lush.  Driving in a snow shower can be quite hypnotizing as the snow comes right at the windshield making you feel like you’re in a vortex of some sort.  I was in a groove though and hugging the road pretty well, my max speed being about 45mph.  On one particular straight away though, the back end of the car decided it wanted to take the lead.  dscn5731No big deal I thought as I kept steering to where I wanted to go hoping to come out of the fishtailing, but the back end was pretty insistent and made its intentions clear.  So, I steered more into the turn and finally the car started to straighten out, but then the back went the other way, so I steered the other way, recovered, and started the whole thing over again the other way.  Each time it got worse of course due to my over compensating until on the fourth or fifth iteration, I was going down the road sideways, but at least I was still moving in the right direction.

OK, so I realized that when the back end swings back the other way, it will win out this time, so I figured, let it.  Sure enough, the back end swung around more than the 90 degrees this time and so I let it and I then steered the wrong way or the new right way.  Whichever way it was, it went against every instinct in my body and I had to keep telling my self it was right.  As the back end went forward, I had a spectacular view of where I had just been and the crazy interleaved S shaped tire tracks in the snow that I had just left behind me.  My view changed to the snow covered trees on the side of the road and  a big ditch that I was really hoping to avoid.  About that time I then brought the wheel all the way the other way to get the wheels pointed the same way as the road in front of me and then brought it back to center ahead of time so as not to overcompensate, and the timing was perfect.  As the steering wheel came to center, the back end learned its place in the world and all was well.  Not another car on the road, fortunately.   I said whew and wiped my brow and muttered a couple of expletives and then about 30 seconds down the road, from around a bend, here comes a semi pulling a tanker.  Oh man, someone was looking down on me today.

dscn5729Well, the rest of the drive was relatively uneventful.  I stopped at Ruby Beach on my friend Raelene’s recommendation.  I drove as far as could and then there was a trail that went down to the beach.  It was pouring rain and the wind was awfully strong, and of course it was freezing, literally.  So, I decided not to make the trek.  In this era of my physical awakening of hiking and exercise, I felt like such a wuss.  I also opted out of the Neah Bay hike to Cape Flattery since it was so far out of the way, I got such a late start and the weather was so awful.  Wuss, wuss, wuss.

I arrived at Westport about 4:00 and met Lloyd at his house.  I hadn’t seen him for almost a year, he looked great.  The retired life must agree with him.  We had a good time catching up and we went to the local casino for dinner and a little bit of play.  I lost.  Oh well.  I think that’s the first time I lost this year.  That just urks me.

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