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Friday, December 15, 2006

Black ice

One of the things you learn about during your first winter in Oregon is black ice. This is a thin layer of ice on the pavement. The surface just looks wet, but it's frozen. Slicker than all get-out.

Tonight looks like a black ice night in the making. We had hail this afternoon, and a cold front passed through today. It's fairly calm out there now, and there's ice on our front and back porch steps already. (Those back steps iced up and took me down a couple of years ago -- since then, I check them carefully if there's any question about frost.) The official airport thermometer says 35, but in sheltered places, it's already freezing.

Black ice is seriously dangerous. I remember when it took the career, quality of life, and almost the entire life, of Ramon Ramos, a young Trail Blazer, years ago. Ramos was flying down I-5 on a night like tonight. Very bad move.

Black ice isn't that big a concern to me at the moment. Once you find your life partner and bring little kids into the world, you can hunker down. You're not out there at 2:30 Saturday morning, looking through whatever haze you're working on, at that wet road, and wondering if it's frozen. But those of you who are going to be out there, take good care.

Comments (8)

Great minds must run in similar channels... I just finished a 6+ mile run, along the Springwater Corridor Trail, and for most of the run I was thinking (worrying) about black ice. I didn't see any, thankfully.

It was fun running along the trail, while the Christmas Train was loading up passengers at Oaks Park, and then having the passengers wave at me from the train as it was rolling along the track!

But now that I'm home, I'm gonna curl up and watch movies and drink my recovery eggnog.

Not to mention Steve Prefontaine?

Black ice is the one and only condition where studded tires can really help. For everything else, they're worse than the alternative.


He died in the summer: May 30, 1975 to be exact....

"Not to mention Steve Prefontaine?"

I must be wrong about this; so "not to mention" is in fact right, if that's thet case.

Athletes and cars is a theme, though. Drazen Petrovic...

Ramos' accident sounds awfully similar to that of Derrick Thomas. Die-hard Chiefs fans still mourn the loss.

Prefontaine, Ramos, all remind us of how fragile life is and how easily the best laid plans and brightest future can go tragicly wrong in an instant. This happens countless times in our circle of life, from cancer striking down a person in the prime of life to the weather moving in on Mt. Hood, to a backroad taken in error. A spot of ice, a driver not paying attention on a country road, and a life, family, and direction can be so radically and tragicly altered. So we all should remember the joy of the season, appreciate and relish the moments, people, and simple blessings we have.

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