Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Tom Ross' column appears Tuesdays and Saturdays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Tom here.
Steamboat Springs You know that Routt County is having a big snow winter when the drifts crest the fourth strand of a barbed wire fence. If you happen to be riding a tall horse, and the snow comes up to your stirrups, it could be a historic winter.
Should you find yourself at Missouri and Larimer streets in Old Town Steamboat Springs, and you barely pull the nose of your car out far enough to look both ways, but oncoming traffic honks at you anyway, you are definitely enduring a heap of deep.
Everybody from Steamboat to Hahn's Peak Village knows what I'm talking about. The snowdrifts have grown so high that you can't safely back out of your driveway. Downtown intersections that aren't controlled by four-way stop signs are perilous.
I narrowly avoided two collisions Monday morning, one that would not have been my fault, and one that would have earned me a ticket. So, I set out to find out how Routt County motorists are tricking out their driveways and vehicles to ensure other motorists can see them coming.
In the old days, when cars and trucks had radio antennae that stuck out of their hoods, all you had to do was jam an old tennis ball on the antenna. Remember when Union 76 gas stations handed out those flaming orange advertising balls?
Today, long-suffering Routt County residents are decidedly more high tech in their approach. Jim Ferrell, an employee at the NAPA Auto Parts store in Steamboat Springs, said his customers have been ordering flashing LED lights meant for bicyclists.
People in North Routt have learned to modify the battery-operated LEDs to mate with extension cords and are attaching them to their garage door openers. You can mount the bicycle light on a pole above the snow bank at the entrance to your driveway, Ferrell said. When the garage door opens, the warning light begins blinking. It shuts off when the garage door closes.
Others are attaching indoor lighting timers to their driveway warning lights.
Tom Taylor at Planet Powersports on the west side of Steamboat will order you an orange pennant flag on a telescoping rod that is designed for snowmobiles. It comes with a mounting bracket, and if you're handier than I am, it shouldn't be much trouble to mount it to your rooftop ski rack.
If you want to economize and you have a radio antenna on your old beater, head over to Ace at the Curve, where you can buy an entire roll of fluorescent surveyor's tape for $2.20. I recommend using a small piece of duct tape wound onto the antenna just below the spot where you intend to knot the tape. Otherwise, it will just slip to the bottom.
Hey, for 25 cents, the hardware store will sell you single pennant flags on stiff wires. They're just like the flags the gas company uses to mark gas lines in your backyard. Duct tape one of those little babies onto your roof, and your good to go for the rest of this unrelenting winter.
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