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An anniversary to remember

Yesterday was SWWBO and I's 12th anniversary.  I've now gone double my previous record of six years.  And, oddly enough, I've been married to SWWBO for as many years as I was married to both other place-holders (apparently intended to keep me off the board until SWWBO was ready).  That also means there's some mileage on this chassis.  And there have been mods to it, that like any army vehicle, means this chassis has gained weight over it's service life. Snerk.  At least that's *my* story.  So, the point being that I'm not... young any more.

I may be old, but, by golly, I'm still young enough to do Stupid  Man Things.

We're living in a winter wonderland.  In fact, we're having snow they neglected to mention in the weather forecast right now. We've still got the snow that fell Christmas Eve.  It's been a very dry snow, the kind of powder skiers lust for and road crews hate, because it blows and drifts so easily.  But, in that there is opportunity.  I unleashed my inner man-child  yesterday morning, slapped the F150 into four-wheel and, at 25-30mph bored my way through the 2-3 foot drifts to get down the one mile of gravel road to get to the paved road. I was  the first guy into work yesterday morning, and many didn't show up. Round 1, the Armorer.

It being our anniversary, I pick up SWWBO's present at lunch, and after work, hit the commissary and grab a standing rib roast, some steaks, 'rita makings, and ice cream drumsticks and head home.

These are important things.

I motor on home, covering the first eleven miles of the twelve mile commute with no issues. Then  I get to Meagher, the beginning of the gravel road at the dead end of which sits the Demesne of Argghhh!  Meagher begins with a 30 foot high hillock that crests about 1/16th of mile in.  The entrance (and the first eighth of a mile or so) is drifted over at about the three-foot level. I slapped the truck into four-low and gave it a shot.  The F150 makes it 50 feet before it starts to just dig in. I back it out and consider my options. Round Two - the Snow.

What are the options?  Well, try again and get truly stuck, which will complicate things for everybody who lives along the road when I plug it so the county road grader can't get in.  Not that he's been there yet, clearly.  Or I could run on into Leavenworth, get a hotel room, call SWWBO and tell her we'll spend our anniversary in separate beds within 20 miles of each other.   Hmmmm.  Or, go to the nearest neighbor (about a half mile) ask 'em if I can park the truck there, grab the meat and 'rita makings and drumsticks and do a little forced march.

You know what I chose to do.

This is where I mention I've broken the cardinal rule of foul-weather driving: Dress as if you would have to walk home.  Seems there's a reason for that.  I've got on a sufficient jacket, except it's windbreaker-style with not much of a collar and no hood.  I'm in office clothes and walking shoes.  I do have gloves, but no head covering.  If I were in command, I'd relieve myself for failure to take care of the troops.

But I'm retired, so I just grab the standing rib roast, ribeyes, 'rita makings and drumsticks, and my neighbor motors me back to where Meagher starts.  Grabbing the bags, I start off, beginning Round 3.

I start walking into the drifting snow, slogging my way up through the thigh-high drifts, clear the first hilltop, and the way clears a bit - only a foot deep now.  My lungs are burning like the first day of football practice after conditioning drills and I'm blowing steam like an old locomotive at full throttle.  You can probably mark my passage from afar (the road is sunken, which is why all the drifts) by the plume I'm putting up. Except the 15 knot wind is snatching it away. On the plus side, I'm generating so much heat my feet don't care about the snow in the shoes and my ears don't care - hell, they welcome - the minus-5 windchill.  There's no turning back now.  Pride is at stake.  Lots of men have died for pride, it's a mark of manliness.  I was trudging along keeping an eye on the banked snow noting the places where I could build the snow-cave when the heart attack hit - assuming it left me able to move...

C'mon, it's our anniversary - 'rita makings are mandatory! I've missed enough anniversaries over my three marriages - I don't intend to miss this one. Freezing to death is a small price to pay for Pride and SWWBO!  Hey, that would be a good Castle motto!  "For Pride and SWWBO!"   Catchy. 

Slogging into a deepening darkness, thoughts of Chosin-minus-the-Chinese dancing in my head, I slog into the drifting snow. The drumsticks must be delivered.  'Ritas must be made.  Neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night... waitaminnit.  The only tracks on the road in the places that aren't drifted over are mine - the mailman didn't even try today. 

I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, trying to stick to the packed ruts where I can, shifting the bags from hand to hand so that I don't cut off circulation to the fingers.  I find myself mumbling, "This is just good Army training.  This is just good Army training. This is just good Army training..."  Trudging up the last hill of the first half-mile, where Meagher turns south and becomes 211th and enters the demesne, I find a flippin' four foot high drift.  I batter on through.  Being hefty has some advantages - and it is powder snow, so it's not as hard to bull through as it seems, though the high-stepping slog is beginning to really tell in my thighs.  Break through that wall of snow and there is the neighbor's house, and beyond, the demesne.

Dilemma.  I'm cold, but not chilled to danger.  I've got a half-mile to go.  Do I drop in on Cheryl and Allan and ask if Allan could drive me home?  I take a look at the road in the evening nautical twilight.  Allan's big diesel isn't going to make it down the hill. Carp.  So, do I go and warm up and call SWWBO and report in? 

Nope.  She'd just worry, and the Ranger isn't going to make it through those drifts.  If I go in to Allan and Cheryl's, I will take abuse for being the 'tupid boy that, well, let's face it, that I am, so, I just keep on trudging.  Good army training.  Good army training.  This would be great gunnery weather - if your shite works in this, you've got your stuff nailed, I think to myself, because losing myself in reverie makes the time pass.  I can hear Buffy and Gunner out chasing something in the woods.  Figures.  I crap out and they won't even come over to huddle up against me to keep my company as I succumb to hypothermia...

Down 211th to where it turns back west and becomes Dakota.  Last eighth of mile, all uphill, but no drifts, as it's shielded by trees.  The beard is fully iced now.  I look like what I am - idiot middle-aged man staggering through the darkness of a howling winter's night, lugging a standing rib roast, two ribeyes, 'rita makings, and a box of ice cream drumsticks.  If I die doing this the Auld Soldier is going to give me a severe ration of grief...  Just another reason not to die then, eh?  Besides, I do *so* not want to make the Darwin Awards nominating process.  I don't mind being #1 in Google for bayoneting myself.  Being listed in the 2010 Darwin Award nominations however....

 I stagger into the kitchen and start horking up my lungs. Testosterone has triumphed once again over normal brain chemistry. 

Round 3, and match - Armorer.

Epilogue:  Apparently my neighbor where I parked the truck works for the county.  The county road crew showed up this morning and asked if I had made it home alright, and apologized for not getting to the road yesterday.   Only way he could have known that I hoofed it in is if my neighbor told him.  We got a bonus - since we are where he turns his grader around, he went all the way up the drive and plowed it for us.  He said the drifts at the end of the road were five feet deep and there was no sign I had walked down the road... I think he was worried I might be face down in the ditch covered with snow...


There's a fine line between bravery and stupidity...

Glad you're ok. Happy anniversary!!!
Amazed you could type all that with frozen fingers and frostbit beard.

You are olde enough to  quit doing stoopid stuff now.  Old guys don't have to prove anything every time.  You could have cheated the Obamacare people out of years of future grief dealing with you.

Still, a fun read...
John, you have a rough few days!  I think I would have made the same choice, though, were it myself and MrsJamesLee's anniversary.  Luckily, ours is in May.

Heh, I carry tent/sleeping bag/cook stuff, winter boots and other stuff in the trunk, and I only live in Mee-She-Gan.

Once it gets cold (temps regularly below 30 degrees) I wear my winter coat with pockets holding my balaclava for skiing, turtle fur neck cover (in place of scarf), good gloves, navy watch cap (heh, I'm balding), and flashlight  (whether I use all of them that day, or not).

So, where is your winter bug-out bag?
Well congrats to you both. I hope you got the beating you deserved.
Soo glad that you finally completed the trudge to the Castle... Enjoy those frozen 'rita's.   

Happy Anniversary to you both! 



Came across this blog a few days ago and I admit that I have recieved some great points already.

I was just wonderin if you could post some more info about the right way to exercise.

That is so stubborn and stupid that you could mistaken for a Marine doing stuff like that.


Add me to the list wondering why your vehicle was insufficiently equipped.  True, I don't have snowshoes in mine but I live in town so I'm highly unlikely to face snow deep enough to really need them. 

Besides, I don't technically have any.  We've got some for the ever-indulgent wife though - should see if I can get her to finally try them out in the back yard.  I do have that new camera she keep wanting me to use...  Very hard to find any snowshoes (let alone in my size) around here.

In a case like yours I would probably have taken my small snowshovel out of my car and used it as sled for the supplies.  Or used the tarp or one of the bags, depending on weight.  Just need something I can use some of the cordage to get to slide along behind me. 

Still, you demonstrated the core of the guy ideal - true goals will be reached, circumstances be darned!  Although the journey there may be filled with (semi) private considerations of the wisdom of our approach.  But as you said, it helps pass the time.

Oh - one minor issue though: you've now set the bar for what should not stop you from a proper Anniversary Celebration.

Snerk!  I'm going to leave that spam (after neutering the link)... 

More info about the right way to exercise?


I just tested my cardiologists finding that my heart was fine.  If I was going to blow out a gasket, yesterday would have done it.
Thomas and Steve - I did say I would have relieved myself (in the military sense) did I not?
Congrats!  I echo USMC Steve's comment about there being a bit of Marine in you... ;)

And KCSteve's last line is sadly (for you) true.

But I have no doubt you were suitably rewarded for your heroic efforts.  :D

Having driven that road (on clear, warm days), I could picture every bit of your progress. I'm glad you made it. 
For the record, you do not get to borrow lives from the Interior Guard, so my advice is not to try that stunt again!
But Baaaaaaarb, I just proved I could *do* it....
1.  Next time, call me.  I can at least borrow you a sled.
2.  Even if I can't help, I can laugh at you.

I am glad you made it through that "little" forced march.  I would add only one thing to what others has already written:  SWWBO is a VERY lucky woman to have you.
Congratulations, John & Beth.  Best wishes for many more!
I guess, my double tap means the interweb tubes gremlins want to emphasize HOW very luck SWWBO is :o)
I barely made it up that road on horseback or with the ATV. You have my undying repsect John for trudging your way home to the most wonderful woman in the world!
Turns out my neighbor did it too - at midnight.  He only had half as far to go, however, and is a younger fella.

Holy cow, sir - If I was your wife, you'd get more than a talking to!

Beef up your emergency bag!  

Trust me on this one SWWBO does NOT want to be a widow - frankly, it bites. 


Congrats on the anniversary.

Have you sent a letter to GM to do Silverado commercials? Not getting an F-150 through the snow is a sure fire bet to get you a spot.

What happened to all that Army training? I thought we learned stuff in Korea and the Bulge. And...where was Buffy with the life saving booze? She's smarter then she looks.
All the best to you and yours this anniversery.  Real glad you made it!!
To soothe the savage ego, consider the well-stocked emergency bag could also be used to render aid to lesser mortals stuck in ditches and freezing to death.  The purely minor coincidence that you could also make use of such a thing can be loftily ignored.

And speaking of loft, a number of desperate retailers are offering down jackets that can be compressed into a small pocket, for less than $100 if I recall.  If Gerbil Worming continues on its endothermic trend, people in glacier country might want to have one in the car for emergencies.

And Happy Mutual Capture Day!
John, for some reason I expected you to bellow "WOLVERINES!" once you got home. {/whimsy}

Come to think of it, this would be good fodder for a GWOT psyops campaign: 

"This former Army officer is retired and legally disabled, but he laughs at blizzards.

Just think of what the young bucks will do to you..."

FEAR the Army soldier.

Alternatively (with returning whimsy): John Donovan; army of one and a half!

Soo glad that you finally completed the trudge to the Castle... Enjoy those frozen 'rita's.

I would've opted for Irish coffee -- then crawled into the cup to thaw out.

"This former Army officer is retired and legally disabled, but he laughs at blizzards."

Had the perfect snark for that, but since you had the uncommonly good sense to marry Beth, I'll forego it. Happy Anniversary, both of yez!

Well, I object to "former Army officer."  My commission is still in effect, and I'm still subject to the UCMJ...  but thankfully not AR600-9.
I'm just gonna sit here and LOOK at you with arched eyebrows and an expectant look on my face...

Then again, for the right woman...

Glad that you are all right, Boss...  Happy Anniversary to you and SWWBO!
 Best wishes, and may you always survive your moments of stubborn, sir!
Bill's angel must of called in reinforcements for you.

Happy Anniversary.
Saker - could be, as long as that means no one in the boxes were uncovered...
So, when you finally got there, did she yell at you, or kiss you, or both?  Yah, I know the answer is obvious.
... but thankfully not AR600-9.

You're just too short for your weight -- isn't there a paragraph covering sudden loss of three feet of height?

Hey, Bill, quit pickin on us 29" inseam guys! We make better rasslers, cause we're close to the ground like Antaeus! And we have much more room behind the seat in the F-150 in which to store winter emergency equipment! Uh, whoops.
Aren't you wonderful!

Happy Anniversary to a great couple!
Well, happy anniversary, and hope you "larned y' lesson"!  Don't try that agin!
Aww...that's romantic and definitely a good story.  Memo to yourself; keep a scarf, boots and wool socks in your truck, along with a hat and a decent coat JIC.

The Engineer keeps a couple of blankets in each car, along with emergency food rations and water, a first aid kit and jump cables.  The emergency food rations are not MREs but things like granola bars, dry soup mix and dried fruit and a couple of gallons of water. 

Now, was SWWBO glad to see you or what!