the title has the odd sound, for me, of the name of an indie band, like the NYC electro-noise band, black dice, minus the letter d. rather black ice is a real phenomena. when water freezes on roadways it produces ice the color of asphalt. all you who live in colder climes now about this phenomena, and you are more adept in driving on it. not us. today black ice scared the hell out of us.
because we headed up the mountain to apple hill to a christmas tree farm for our christmas tree. the farm is a wonderful family run enterprise that we have frequented for two years. the elevation of apple hill is about 3000 ft. i wrote about the cold snap last night. we forgot that it snows in higher elevations. okay, we know it snows but we didn't think it would be so white and thick with snow starting around 1000 ft. we drove thru placerville, a burg famous for hits hanging tree, back in the gold rush era miscreants were hanged from a tree long cut down but memorialized by a hanging effigy attached to a local watering hole.
oh how lovely, we said. the white snow, the crisp air, the lovely christmas ambiance. some miles up we turned off the freeway and pointed the pilot up to apple hill. snowmen sitting in front of an apartment building. snow piled by snowplows on both sides of the road. nick was greatly excited by the prospect of playing in the snow. we were awestruck by the surrounding beauty. the roads connecting orchards on apple hill are narrow and two-lane with steep drop-offs on one side. we noticed the vehicles coming down the hill driving about two to five miles per hour. anna was driving. i said, black ice. she slowed down. we got to the first farm. the road was blocked by a policeman. just beyond the officer we saw an ambulance and a car that drove off the side of the road and into a snow bank.
we got nervous. holy shit. the black ice was bad enough to cause this accident. we debated to use the back roads to go higher up the christmas tree farm. a quick scan outside, all the snow and slick roads, we decided to head back down the hill into lower elevations and away from the black ice.
on the way down anna slowed the pilot to about two miles per hour. it was treacherous. because we hit, twice, patches of black ice and our vehicle slid. nothing scarier can be experienced by mortal human kind. we are so used to being in control of our vehicles, when we step on the gas the car will go, when we steer we know the car will go in the direction we commanded of it, when we step on the brakes we know it will stop. not with black ice. none of that happens. steer, hit the gas, or apply the brakes to your rapidly beating heart's content and the car will slide by its own volition.
still, one can be cautious. we slid twice. that raised the blood pressure and puckered our sphincters. anna was extraordinary. she kept the vehicle true and we made it down without much of a hitch for the remainder of our journey.
the view, meanwhile, with black ice was gorgeous.
we did find our christmas tree at another farm in the valley. it was cold, of course, but no snow. if there is a lesson i learned today it is that snow is gorgeous to see and play in, but it is horrible to drive in. later anna asked me if i would've felt safer if i was driving. hell no. i don't like to drive, anyway. i wouldn't have been a better driver if i were infused with the dna of mario andretti. we were ecstatic from the adventure to make it down the mountain, happy, in a single piece, and alive to later find and cut down a couple of christmas trees.