Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Gaming on the bahn

Disclaimer: Until we moved to Germany I had never lived any place it snowed, so this driving in cold icy weather is a new and sometimes exciting adventure.

I have discovered driving in the snow is a lot like playing a video game. The goal of this game is not to get where you are going the fastest, nor is it to see how many people you can run off the road. The only goal of this game is to get where you are going, and get there alive.

Like any video game there are lots of challenges along the way. The roads can be so slippery that one wrong move will send you spinning off the road, never mind that stepping on the brakes to slow down doesn't exactly have the desired effect. Sometimes it works, sometimes it sends you sliding and not always in the right direction. So far I have avoided this particular pitfall, but judging from the number of banged up guard rails not everyone has been so lucky.

When there is a lot of snow on the ground it can be hard to tell where the lanes are or even sometimes exactly where the road is. In this case you follow the tracks of the car in front of you and hope for the best. If it is snowing hard while you are driving, well that makes finding the road even more challenging.

By far the most startling challenge is the road bombs. No, not IEDs like the troops have to face, these are less explosive and more icy. They come in two varieties: one white and fluffy, the other black and yucky. The white fluffy one happens when the guy in front of you on the aoutobahn couldn't be bothered to get all the snow off his car before driving. At some point all or part of that blanket of snow peels off, becomes airborne, and generally lands square in the middle of your windshield. It can just about make you about pee your pants. The trick is not to jerk the steering wheel or stomp on the brakes when this happens. Just keep going straight and use you wipers.

The other type of road bomb is black and gross. It forms from the salty nasty slush from the road splashing up on to the underside of the car and freezing. At some point gravity takes over and a huge hunk of hard black ice breaks loose and comes bouncing down the road at you. Most of the time this type breaks up and scatters smaller ice chunks all around. Once in a while one will bounce up and hit your bumper or door panel making a loud thump and if you are very unlucky it drops from a big truck and so bounces higher and lands on your hood. Yikes!

The last challenge is only for those playing the advanced version of driving in snow. This challenge come from within the car, it is the kids in the back seat screaming and fighting while you are trying to remember to downshift not brake, keep a good following distance in spite of the Porsche-driving genius who just squeezed his over priced sports car/coffin two feet in front of your bumper, and watch out for road bombs. All this while preventing he fight from escalating to actual blood shed in the back seat.

Good Luck with the winter road games where ever you are, they sure are exciting.


David said...

I am so lucky. I don't get to play any good games like that here.

Monica said...

very funny, girl. i am SOOOO not jealous of that. the funniest challenge is the last. ;o)

Danny said...

And that is why I live where it doesn't snow, usually.