Friday, February 17, 2006

Drive Time Forecast

I think sometimes about the things I take for granted living here in the Bay Area, but I haven't forgotten to be grateful for the freedom from the chore of warming up the car.
People here in California are funny. This morning there was frost on the ground for the first time this winter. That meant there was a certain amount of frost on car windshields as well. This meant I was witness to an extended version of the sunrise car ritual. On any given day there are those who are out in front of their houses, pouring buckets of warm water on the front of their cars, trying to get the temperature inside to match the outside.
I'm lucky, since I'm riding my bike, I get to experience all of this completely vicariously. Every so often, my glasses fog up a little bit, but then I just peer over the top of them, and continue on my way. There are others who are giving a full-on hose job to all the windows of their cars, gallons of water rolling into the gutters before eight AM.
My mind drifts back to a time when I drove a Chevrolet Vega. One of the idiosyncrasies of this vehicle was that it had an aluminum engine block, which made it completely susceptible to extreme cold. On very frigid Colorado nights, I had a special oil heater running inserted next to the dipstick to keep the oil from turning to the viscosity of caramel. Once I got the motor running, there was often another five to ten minutes of scraping to be done on the windshield before it was free of ice. I was glad to have a working rear defroster, because I couldn't always bear to be out in the subzero air long enough to clear off a spot on the back to see out.
I'm headed up into the mountains near Tahoe this weekend. I hope I can remember the tricks of the trade - or at least where I can get a few buckets of hot water.


michelle said...

I have to get used to leaving a water faucet open just a trickle in my bathroom, so my pipes won't freeze.

Anonymous said...

Minus 18 here at the olde homestead last night. A record.