441 Days in Mountains: The (Long and Winding) Road

No, this post has nothing to do with Cormac McCarthy or the Beatles. It has to do with the impending winter and the requirements of living on a private, barely legal road. If you, like most of the sane and rational population of the United States, live on a paved road that is cleaned, plowed, and maintained by your town or county, you probably only consider the effort that goes into keeping your road pleasantly usable when it becomes unpleasantly usable, such as when a large pothole appears in the middle of it. My road, however, is a constant occupier of thoughts. Here’s what it means to live where I do:

  • Discovering your snow tires are useless and spending the whole winter creeping down the hill at two miles per hour, which was still too fast, terrified of plummeting over the edge and ending up like these guys

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  • Towing out neighbors that did go over the edge…and having them tow you out of a ditch the next week
  • Owning and maintaining an ancient snow plow. Well, it doesn’t have to be ancient, but ours is

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  • Walking with a shovel behind the snow plow to dig it out of the cemented snow every 20 feet to keep it moving down the whole 1.25 mile long road because no one wanted to plow when the snow first fell and was light and fluffy
  • Filling in potholes at the end of the winter only to have them come back with the first heavy rain of the season and then deciding to just live with them all summer because having the road professionally graded is too expensive to do more than once a year
  • Getting your daily core and arm exercise by digging out the gutters after the previously mentioned heavy rains fill them with mud
  • Getting more exercise raking away the large rocks the accumulate in the road, especially on the switchbacks
  • And working out your lungs, glutes, and hamstrings by walking back home up your driveway that sits at 7,000 feet elevation and inclines 35 degrees at some points
  • Trimming overhanging tree branches that are left to grow all summer so that they slap your windshield as you drive by
  • Scraping the bottom of your bumper attempting to drive over the canyons that yet more heavy rain carved into your driveway
  • Being unable to leave your road because your neighbor’s stupid AirBnB guests think the warning signs about the conditions of the road and recommendation to have a four-wheel drive vehicle don’t apply to them and get into stupid, avoidable accidents, thereby completely blocking everyone’s only way into town
  • Battling a crusty old man who doesn’t want you to repair a section of road that was washed out by a flood three years prior, even though the road doesn’t belong to him and the repairs will be fully funded by FEMA
  • Attempting to find a professional snow plow service for the coming winter so you don’t have to deal with the winter nonsense all over again but only getting laughed at by every service you call

What makes it all worthwhile? The overwhelming majority of our amazing neighbors who appreciate and respect the environment we inhabit and the need to help each other out, the privacy we get from living somewhere inaccessible, the views (and sometimes lack of) of the town and surrounding hillsides, beautifully blossoming apple trees and other flora along the road in the spring, and abundant wildlife.

 

 

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