Around and around and around the car spun on black ice!

Barry shared a crazy story while we sipped coffee at 6:30 a.m.

I sipped mine with hazelnut creamer and he sipped  his black.

We burrowed under a large pink and brown comforter.

We told Early Morning Stories.

You know, the stories where you catch up with your Significant Other after a long hectic work week.  (OK, some of us have long hectic work weeks.  Others of us experience moments of calm in between busyness.)

I shared about–well, heck, I didn’t have much to share.

My Significant Other did have work-related stories.

This one was so interesting I am coming out of blogging seclusion (it’s been a long time since yesterday morning) to share with you.

A woman Barry interviews in a sports-related context was driving up to da Copper Country on Thursday.  As some of you long-time readers know, da Copper Country is da familiar name for da Keweenaw Peninsula.  The many old-time Finns who live here refer to it as “da Copper Country.”  After thirty-some years, so do we.

Da Copper Country. North of us. See Houghton and Hancock? That's where we eat out way too often.

She was driving on Highway M-26 between Hancock and Dollar Bay when suddenly her vehicle hit a patch of “black ice”.  (We all know the perils of black ice, right?  It’s a patch of dark ice the color of the pavement.  Thus you do not know you’re perhaps about to spin and circles and land in a ditch.)

Her car careened into a spin.  Around it spun!  Around it spun again!  Around it spun a third time!

If you’ve ever lost control of a vehicle and spun around in circles, it’s quite interesting how the mind works.  My mind, at least, becomes crystal clear.  Everything grows silent.  You spin in slow motion, aware of every circling nuance, even though you are moving faster than the speed of light.

Simultaneously, you are assessing your chances of dying.  You are silently praying–wordless, even–that no cars are approaching from Behind or In Front.  If they are approaching, you are hoping they will be able to slow their speed and stop without smashing into your crazily-circling-spinning-vehicle.

She spun around three times before the car momentarily righted itself and aimed for a snowy ditch.

That’s how most of these stories end.  The spinning car lands in the ditch and must now be towed.  One must dial a wrecker–if there is cell phone coverage form your particular snowy ditch–and wait, shivering, in shock, sweating, for the tow truck driver to arrive.

Yes, some of you have witnessed this ditch photo before. From a death-defying episode in the 1980's.

This woman’s car actually seemed to assess its situation and think.  It leaped completely over the ditch to land–yes, land–squarely in the middle of a 14-foot wide daily groomed hard-packed snowmobile trail running between Hancock and Dollar Bay.

She sat in the car, smack-dab in the middle of snowmobile trail, shaking.

She pondered the situation.

Fortunately, at that moment, she glanced in the rear-view mirror to discover four snowmobiles approaching.

What luck!  She would be saved and get to her meeting on time!

Here’s what happened.

Every snowmobiler simply drove past her, as if it was a commonplace occurence to discover a vehicle sitting in the middle of the snowmobile trail.  One, two, three, four snowmobiles zipped by, leaving her in their exhaust. (Perhaps they were visitors and too polite to ask why a car was on the snowmobile trail. . .)

She sighed heavily and opened the car door.

Try to keep on the pavement whenever possible...

Fortunately, another snowmobile soon approached.  This driver kindly turned off his machine and asked–“My goodness, woman, what ARE you doing in the middle of da snowmobile trail?”

(I made up his question, mind you, because the original storyteller, my coffee-drinking partner, is no longer here to supply the exact words.  Doesn’t it sound you like the question he might ask?  And isn’t it logical he might have a Finnish accent?)

“What am I to do?” our heroine asked.

The snowmobiler thought.

“I think it’s packed  hard enough to drive on,” he surmised.  “Why don’t you drive up there about a hundred yards and you’ll discover a driveway.  As soon as you reach da driveway, head back out to da road.”

Which our heroine did.  She reached her meeting in time.

She did call my husband later in the day with meeting results.

“How are you doing?” he asked politely, to start the conversation.

“I almost died!” she responded dramatically.

(I like her.  She sounds like me.  Yep, I would have said the same thing.  I mean, she could have died.  It probably felt like that.)

All’s well that ends well.  She survived.  She now has an exciting story to share about those darn snowmobilers who didn’t even stop to rescue her from the middle of a snowmobile trail.   Barry has a story to tell while sipping his black coffee.  And now Kathy has a blog to write, coming out of her seclusion after almost twenty-four hours away from the blog!  And you readers can tell YOUR significant others–or friends–as you’re sipping coffee tomorrow morning.

You gotta love the way stories travel.  Almost as exciting and nerve-wracking as the way vehicles sometimes spin out…

P.S.  So VERY glad she ended up safe!  That’s the best kind of story to share.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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63 Responses to Around and around and around the car spun on black ice!

  1. Celeste says:

    Stories like this make me miss the North, but then again not! It is easy to miss the quietness of that area, but I don’t miss spinning on black ice. 🙂

  2. Elisa's Spot says:

    Now, had YOU had something to say, there would be no black ice story–perhaps.
    There would be NOOOOOOOOOOO sparking of sharing and creativity.

    This is still very hard but I want you to know that I am following along, realizing my knowings and my not-knowings as I go along. I DO equate it with that awful spinning on black ice and I probably panic and at least have flashbacks. It can be hard to know when it is a good thing, that the car is somehow deciding for itself and doing for me, what I could not…only allowing me to see it or to notice it, in hindsight. Sometimes I blow right past like those snowmobilers. I guess I’m not so different after all. sigh

    • Kathy says:

      Elisa, now that’s the good part of the Blogging Conduit, the way it allows that sparking and sharing of creativity. Thinking that you’re learning to spin without crashing it the ditch? Or at least you’re landing safely on snowmobile trails?

  3. Sybil says:

    Heard a story on the CBC yesterday about a woman (in Ontario I think) who followed her GPS onto a road that only existed in summer. Unfortunately, it was winter so she soon got stuck. Along came four firefighters on snowmobiles who just happened to be in the area on a training exercise. They helped her out and she was soon on her way. She wrote a “Thank you” letter to the mayor of the town. Guess what ? The firefighters got censured for putting themselves at risk during an exercise !!!

    Glad the woman survived her nasty encounter with black ice.

    • Kathy says:

      Yikes! Bad censurers! Why did they do that? May the world never cease to listen to its heart, even if that means being censured by people who don’t understand.

  4. lisaspiral says:

    It’s the Finns riding the snowmobiles, nothing fazes them.

  5. Colleen says:

    Kathy, I can feel my heart jump and my throat clench as you share this story. The memory of this never seems to leave a person. There is something so utterly other- worldly about spinning out of control on black ice. Can still feel the sensations 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      I was going to say–oh good, look at how the words affected Colleen! But then…in the reality of it…it is so heart-jumping scary when we start to spin out of control… Yep, I’m feeling it now.

  6. Irene Lefort says:

    Very captivating narration. I have never experienced Black Ice in Germany and I hope I never do in my life. I had quite an adrenalin shock simply reading about it. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this story.

    • Kathy says:

      Good morning, Irene. They don’t have black ice in Germany? That is so interesting. I am glad you liked the narration. 🙂 It was fun writing it.

      • Irene Lefort says:

        There are some icy patches in winter. But I think that winter is generally not that cold where I live for black ice to form. I am just lucky that I have not driven on an icy road before. Just the thought of it is very scary.

  7. Great story with a happy ending. I like happy endings. I could write my story about spinning out of control, but not today. This is your day and my story has no black ice! Only speeding and over correcting.

    • Kathy says:

      Linda, Linda! It’s never just “my” day here. You can ALWAYS tell your stories. I love that one of us starts a story and the others just chime in with theirs. Unless your was not a happy ending. 😦 Then we might be more sad…

  8. lynnekovan says:

    Good Morning-in-Bed Story. Living in England, we don’t get too much snow, although, having said that, last year it snowed a lot over a short time. I set out on my way home from work earlier than usual (in those days I still worked!) and a journey that normally took 30 minutes ended up taking 81/2 hours!! No reason, apart from a bit of snow on the road. So now when I wake up to a winter wonderland, I just turn over and go back to sleep….purring!

    • Kathy says:

      Lynne, I can hardly imagine it taking 8 1/2 hours to get home from work! What a ride that must have been. I can imagine how good it feels to purr when you don’t have to go out in a snowstorm.

  9. sonali says:

    Aww.. my God! I could really imagine the car spinning and spinning.. oof! Scary. Its great to know she was saved from any accidental trauma that I can imagine. Btw, whats snowmobile? Neither do we have snow nor snowmobiles 😐

  10. Fountainpen says:

    I am reminded of ALL of those feelings again…because it happened to me this way…I was on I-75 North in Cincinnati, having just entered it from an entrance which had many
    orange things which indicate a lane is blocked off…..I am in the center lane when suddenly I am SPUN only 180 degrees, now heading SOUTH in the birm……because a careless VERY UNCONCERNED LITTLE BOY-DRIVER was in the blocked off lane and decided he would cut into my land, thus HITTING MY RIGHT BACK FENDER, sending
    me into a spin…..ON A BUSY HIGHWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Ah, yes, I know I could have been killed …..but somehow I was not…..and suddenly there was a “saviour” asking me to open the window of my car….I could not get my
    hands off the steering wheel….I did open the window, he put his hand on my shoulder and waited with me for the police to arrive…..

    All this happened about 25 years ago and I still feel the feelings as I think about it
    again now……And I will always be grateful the tall African American man who stopped
    to help me……

    Needless to say, it was terrifying…..


    • Kathy says:

      Fountainpen, I am so very glad you are still alive to tell this story. Glad an angel stopped to help you. My family almost got killed in an accident on I-75 in that area once, too. (My mother would say in a calm voice–Yes, we avoided a little accident.) Thank you for sharing. I have quit shaking in fear over your near-fatality now.

  11. Oh, yes, the stories we tell over morning coffee–or tea. I know what you mean–though I can’t say our lives demand that much these days. And isn’t it weird how things slow down in the midst of an accident? Wonder why that is.

    Sorry to have been away all week, but our friend from Vietnam left last night, so I think I’m back in business–making the blogging big bucks! LOL


    • Kathy says:

      Making the blogging big bucks! **grin** Share your blogging secrets, Kathy! I haven’t made a cent. Although my heart has made millions. Knowing you and Sara share lots of stories over morning coffee.

  12. Dana says:

    So happy to hear that the woman is safe. And what can be said about those snowmobilers? At least one of them stopped eventually…

    PS: I can also relate to that woman’s “I almost died!” sentiment. I love a good dramatic flair. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Dana, we’re dramatic soul sistas! Have people accused you of exaggerating, too? If they have, shame on them! (The worst part is that I have an equal tendency to minimalize about certain other things. Therefore no one ever knows!)

  13. ....RaeDi says:

    Slow motion is true! I know, nothing like ballet! So glad it all turned out……….

  14. jeff v says:

    Reminds me of that old Bill Cosby routine about learning to drive ” turn in the direction of the skid” while the whole world goes by the windshield! But in defense of da Finns , it was probably so obvious to them that all the poor lady had to do was drive up to the crossover and continue on her way, they just assumed she could figure it out . Or they were sloshed. I’ve heard that happens from time to time too.

    • Kathy says:

      Barry says he remembers that routine well! I am sure your theory about the snowmobilers who didn’t stop could be true. Whether they were Finns or not!

  15. Munira says:

    Yes, very plausible that he might very well have a Finnish accent! 😀

  16. Barb says:

    I pretended I was under the big pink and brown comforter with you and Barry sipping my black coffee. I was chagrined that those first four dastardly snowmobilers passed the lady and was about to say something critical about snowmobilers in general when finally one did rescue her. There’s a good one in every bunch, I guess. I heard a little of that UP accent when my friends visited last week. Mary’s Bob really has a Finnish accent. (When I visited, I didn’t have cell coverage in Eagle Harbor but did in Copper Harbor.)

    • Kathy says:

      Ahhh, so you know about da Finn accent! Gosh, when we first moved here, we were so impressed. We had grown up in Lower Michigan where very few talked like dat. Interesting about the Eagle Harbor vs. Copper Harbor cell phone challenges. I want to drive up there again next summer. When are you coming?

      • Barb says:

        I thought perhaps I’d never come again because it was such a long journey from CO to MN by plane and then from MN to UP by car (another 8 hours). However, my UP friends who recently visited me in CO said I can now get much closer – flying into a UP airport. I DID love it up there….

  17. mainbean says:

    yes! Been there done that! It was in my husbands brand new (5 day old) BMW. Its all his fault though, he decieded to teach me to drive in the snow and ice, with a stick, fisrt winter… need I say more? Slow motion, ditch, tow truck, check. Good thing he loved me more than the car!

  18. susan says:

    Hi Kathy! Oh I see Eagle River on that map! I’ll be up there a lot this summer – how far is it from where you live? It’d be such fun to have coffee-tea-whatever!

    Black ice – yes, awful stuff! My daughter got into a wreck on black ice and seriously nearly was killed. Scar—eeeey! They used the jaws of life to get her out of the car. Fortunately she remembers nothing about it. For me, it was the call every parent hopes they never get and boy I sure remember everything!

    • Kathy says:

      Now that we’ve established where Eagle River is–tee hee–I’ll be seeing you this summer! How utterly scary for you and your daughter. I am frightened just reading your words. Glad it turned out OK. So very glad.

  19. Heather says:

    So glad she made it out safely! Also, I’m glad she shared her story so we can have a game of story “telephone.” Black ice is a scary thing, and certainly helps keep the winter driving ego in check.

    • Kathy says:

      Isn’t it fun how everyone is sharing their stories? Makes you kind of wonder how true all our stories are after a game of telephone. OK, I don’t wonder. I know mine are not 100% true. Except in my mind. 🙂

  20. Dawn K says:

    Well here’s my story.

    In the early 80’s we had a blizzard of sorts in Hancock…and I took my new to me used car out on Hancock Canal Rd looking for photographs. Because I was stupid. Somewhere about halfway between Hancock and the State Park on the snow covered road next to the canal I touched my brakes and the car went into a spin. I just knew I was going to end up in the canal and I was trying to figure out how much time I’d have to get a window open to escape the sinking car. I was hoping I’d hit the one tree between me and the water, hoping that would keep me out of the canal, which had just a thin layer of ice on it.

    Instead I spun around twice, hit nothing, and ended up facing the other way in the other lane. I casually (and slowly) drove back to Hancock. No one even saw it. Found out later than several other cars, same make, same year, had been reported as spinning like that when their owners touched the brakes.

    Heart stopping.

    • Kathy says:

      That is QUITE the story! I read it out loud to Barry. Wow, Dawn. Wow. I am so glad you didn’t end up in the Portage Canal. I am so glad you’re alive to tell the story. Heart stopping, indeed.

  21. rehill56 says:

    Barry helped Bob out of a predicament after losing the road with his little light Suzuki last year going up the Skanee hill! It had been 28 years of not being on slippery roads and it wasn’t the black ice, suprise you, kind of ice but rather the oh oh here comes the ice I see but still can’t stop. Its nice to know that there are Barrys amongst the clueless!
    Thanks. 😉

    • Kathy says:

      Barry said he really didn’t do anything except stop to make sure Bob was OK. (Apparently someone else–you?–wrecker?) was already coming to pick him up. I know those moments. Here comes the ice I see but still can’t stop. Sigh. Happy winter driving to all of us!

  22. rehill56 says:

    see how hero stories get started? some wife gets it wrong…and there you go…I’ll have to ask him how that went again. lol….

  23. bearyweather says:

    I know that spinning feeling well … time stops as you watch things fly by. The spinning is not the worst part … it is the wait to see which horrible way you are going to stop spinning. My worst was a backward trip down a very, very steep and deep ditch. I felt fortunate because so often the car hits something that flips it upside down (or worse). I have not thought about that for a long while … thanks for making me remember so that I will be extra careful .. looks like my trip to school is going to be very interesting in the morning (the weather is very wintery today).

    • Kathy says:

      Yes, you are so right, bearyweather. Not knowing how and where we’re going to stop spinning. I am sorry to hear about that backward trip down the steep ditch. We had a little challenging weather this morning, too, about six inches of it. I hope you had a safe trip into school and home again.

  24. Carol says:

    A perfect, scary, example of why I do not like driving when the road shines up at me. I am basic wimp, and can think of few places I need to be on shiny roads – including roads that shine only in small areas. Like black ice areas.

    • Kathy says:

      I feel like a wimpy winter driver, too, Carol. My husband says he would much rather drive when it’s bad weather because my arms are gripped way too tensely on the wheel. We’re in total agreement.

  25. Pingback: How would you explain “snowmobile” to someone who has never seen snow? « Lake Superior Spirit

  26. Brenda Hardie says:

    I am also a wimp, through and through. If the roads are bad, I simply stay home. Had my share of working years when I had to drive to work no matter what the weather (because of course I HAD to be at work…HA…like the place wouldn’t function just fine without me! My boss seemed to think my presence was that necessary…crazy!) Anyway…now-days I just stay put. It can snow and ice over all it wants and I’ll stay home praying for the people who are braving the roads. Praying for their safe travels and for angels along the way to assist when needed.

    • Kathy says:

      Brenda, we should start a Society of Winter Driving Wimps. (SWDW) But just think of the ways we AREN’T wimps! (I am thinking, I am thinking…) Glad you can stay put now and glad you pray for the safe travels of those who must be out & about.

      • Brenda Hardie says:

        Great idea Kathy! I’ll be your first member! lol (maybe I could be an honorary member because I just might be too wimpy to actually join! hahahaha)

  27. Robin says:

    Great story. I’m so glad it had a happy ending.

    You described those moments of spinning so well. That’s how it felt to me, too, the one time my car decided to go for a little spin and sit in a snowy ditch.

    • Kathy says:

      Thank goodness it had a happy ending, Robin. You make your story sound almost calm. When your car just decided to go for a simple lit spin and sit in a snowy ditch. I like the sound of your car.

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