Hello Everyone –
If you are like my son and I, the last thing we do before hitting the sack the night before a ski trip is to check the weather and plan accordingly. When I say check, I mean checking various locations along the route to the resort we are planning to visit and of course the locality where the resort is located.
We do this, especially if active weather is in the forecast, to understand how much time we need to allow for the trip. You see, if there is no active weather, the roads will be dry and fine. If there is active weather, well allowing a little extra travel time is something we have always done for safety reasons.
We are a Subaru family so it would take a lot to keep one of our Outbacks in the driveway, when we know there is fresh snow on the slopes. Giving a little extra time for travel purposes does not hurt either though.
That now gets me to the point of this week’s column and that is recognizing some of the ski industry’s important helpers, who don’t even get a paycheck from a resort. The folks that are behind the wheel of the snowplows that clear the roads, so that travel to the resorts is easier and safer.
Veteran readers of this column may remember what I am about to tell you. During one of Angie’s (my wife) first visits to see me when I was working for Snowshoe Mountain, some overnight snow was in the forecast. Well around 2 am, I heard a sound outside my house on Rt. 219 that was music to my ears. I leapt out of bed and started doing jumping jacks (not really, but I was very happy), because I heard the sound of a scraping plow on the road. No big deal right? Heck no, that sound meant the plow trucks were out and it was snowing. Remember I worked at a ski resort and you know it’s all about the snow. Despite my middle of the night craziness, we have been married for over 20 years and like any wife, she just ignores those types of emotional outbreaks these days.
Let’s get back to the unheralded snowplow drivers. It’s one of those jobs that goes unnoticed, until you see one clearing the way for you on a snowy road trip. When Christian and I make our ski travel plans, while we give ourselves some extra time if there is active weather, we are comfortable knowing that for the most part, the roads are going to be passable without much difficulty.
As most of you know, most of the resorts in the southeast region are located in rural areas of the various states. That means there is a darn good chance that a snowplow driver has a relative working at the resort they may be plowing in front of or near. So in the long run, not only are they making sure visitors are getting to the slopes safely, but a relative is also making it to work safely, too.
Over the last few years, I have noticed a number of Department of Highway trucks parked alongside the road, waiting for the weather to become active or for the temperature to drop. Here in West Virginia, the Secretary of Transportation is Byrd White and the cool thing is, he is also a Ski Patroller. He told me that he stays in close contact with the National Weather Service and makes plans accordingly, “We normally position ahead of time. We load the salt trucks, get them out and get ahead of Mother Nature as much as we can.” I am all about prior planning, which can most of the time prevent poor performances.
I want to add a common sense note on the subject. Why on earth does a driver want to tailgate a snowplow truck? Not only are they pushing snow, most of the time at a slower speed that what is posted, but may also be spreading salt or ciders at the same time. It amazes me when I see this occurring. Seriously, way too many bad things can possibly happen because of this misguided judgement. Just slow the heck down and give the driver space.
Then there are the Mario Andrettis out there that just because the posted speed limit is 70 mph, they think that’s the speed they have to hit. Have you ever thought that on snow covered roads, it might be a bit safer if you slow down a bit and get to your favorite resort just a little later, but safer. At this point, revert back to the point of leaving a little earlier if there is active weather.
Nonetheless, I for one appreciate the efforts of all of the highway departments in all of the states. They work around the clock when they have to, to make driving conditions safe for all drivers.
Let’s circle back to last week’s column for this week’s final thoughts. By a show of hands, how many of you said thank you to a resort worker or even just gave them a thumbs up for their efforts this season to make it safe for everyone during this pandemic. I surely hope that there are a lot of hands in the air right now.
If you haven’t taken a look at it yet here on skisoutheast.com, but there is a video that includes a number of skiers and snowboarders saying thank you to the employees of Snowshoe Mountain, Canaan Valley Resort and Winterplace. It’s pretty cool and worth two minutes of your time.
That’s it for this week, thanks for joining me. Just remember whether it be cold or whether it be warm, we will weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. The season has been challenging but fun so far and it is going to be a lot more fun the rest of the way. Remember, Mother Nature provides the best social distancing these days.