The news stories began two days before the first snowflakes started to fall. Network television with outposts in frontier Philadelphia interrupted their regularly scheduled newscasts (the daily murder, the high speed car chase, and the pit bulls that were shot by police after mauling the little old lady who baked cookies for them) to commence coverage of the fall of western civilization, prompted by the worst blizzard-like conditions to blow though this area since the Quakers began screwing Indians out of real estate 300 years ago.
The pending storm was being described as “crippling” and “paralyzing,” with snow accumulations to rival the penis-length of the average BMW rider (approximately eight to ten inches). The immediate result of these apocalyptic predictions was to drive crowds of people into supermarkets to decimate the shelves of milk, bread, cigarettes, and hard liquor. For a brief period of brisk public trading, rock salt eclipsed gold on the commodities exchange and bidding wars were declared over snow blowers that couldn’t be given away at any price last week.
I must confess to raiding the local Chinese restaurant at 9pm on Friday, December 18th, and fleeing with containers of chow mein, Singapore noodles (loaded with chicken and shrimp tinted with curry), fried dim sum, and egg rolls (which I suspected would be the new currency of survival in the wake of the storm). I slammed down a bowl of hot and sour soup while waiting for my order, and was amazed at the sense of calm displayed by my inscrutable Asian hosts. The very fact that they seemed unconcerned with what was about to happen began to piss me off.
“How can you be so nonchalant when the world is going to end tomorrow in frozen desolation,” I asked the manager, Fong. (His real name is Philip, but that would not do for the mood I want to set for this story.)
“Jack, the world not end tomorrow,” said Fong. Only snow.”
I persuaded them to turn on the news from Philly, and it was from the flickering screen of a little television in the kitchen that they learned the truth... That eight to ten inches of snowfall would halt all molecular activity in the Philadelphia area, that law and order would collapse, and that people would turn on each other like savages, slaughtering the weak for the last vestiges of warmth and shelter.
When I left the restaurant, they were screaming at each other in Mandarin, heaping tablecloths and plates in a pile, and nailing the long wooden tables over the plate glass windows. “That’s more like it,” I thought.
Vapory reports of folks in Virginia and Tennessee, who were trapped with nothing but each other in darkened houses (dimly lit by holiday candles and heated by wood stoves and fireplaces) for periods of up to 24-hours festered widespread panic. Long-time lovers normally buffered by eBay, Facebook, e-mail and reality shows took long, slow looks at each other and began to sweat. In the absence of texting, some couples resorted to handing each other “Post-its” that said, “U suk” on them.
And all of this was before the first snow flake fell here in East Goshen, Pa.
I had a few egg nogs (of the adult variety) and climbed into the sack around 1am. Glancing out the window, an erie brightness hung over the yard, but it was one that came from the sky and was absorbed by the ground -- which was choked by a snow-free shadow. And that was exactly the same way I’d found it again at 6:10am (Saturday), when I got up to drain the alligator.
But there was an inch of snow on the ground when I checked again an hour later. Generally the rate of snow varies during a storm. You start out with big flakes that become little flakes. Wind-driven blasts yield to gentle snow globe-type fall rates and you even get periods when the precipitation seems to hesitate. Not on Saturday, however. Thunder snow was reported in some areas. The snow fell steadily all day — like the chances of getting a meaningful healthcare reform bill from Senators with their hands up the asses of the American public.
I measure the density of snowfall in two ways: by my ability to see the light post on the front lawn; and by the depth of the plateau that piles up on the glass table out on the patio. I couldn’t see the light post at all during much of the day and the table on the patio was beginning to resemble a sheet cake for a convention. Endless weather reports from Philly indicated the extent of the chaos that existed there. Public service announcements in this city are issued in code. For example, a police advisory that says, “Stay indoors tonight and do not drive your car,” really means, “Jump in the nearest fucking vehicle and head straight to City Line Avenue, so you can sit for hours in stalled traffic unable to crawl over the slightest hill.”
I am proud to tell you that citizens of Philly followed these instructions to the letter.
By 6pm it was apparent that this was no ordinary snowfall, and much of Chester Country (where we live) was now either on the 16 to 20-inch line of accumulation, or on the wrong side of it. Our local network affiliate (WSFB -- Shit For Brains) interviewed motorists who were at great risk for traveling in the storm. The interview was conducted live in the falling snow, in the parking lot of “Total Wine,” the tri-state area’s largest discount retailer of hard liquor and wine. It is in the neighboring state of Delaware, where so much snow fell that polar bears and seals were rampaging in the streets. We listened to a guy who claimed there were some accidents on I-95 ("involving mostly Cadilacs"), but it wasn’t too bad and they basically had the liquor store to themselves. The reporter then announced that many malls would be closing at 7pm, but that Macy’s would be open to 11pm — "at least."
Thank God television is able to provide this kind of quality information in the face of real disaster.
It was then we learned that three airlines had cancelled a total of 1700 flights on the east coast. Leslie measured the snow in a number of places and concluded we had received 15 inches by midnight on Saturday. Her final instructions for me regarding blizzard preparedness were without condition.
“The snowplow people will be here about dawn,” said Leslie.
“Maybe even earlier,” I said. “Maybe they’re like the fire department and will pull up with the sirens roaring and crews of guys running up the driveway with shovels.”
“And maybe you’re a shit head,” said Leslie. “In any case, your Suburban is blocking the access to the upper driveway and you’re going to have to move it. Why not do it now, before they show up and plow around it? Otherwise, your fat, crippled ass will be shoveling out the garage doors.”
I thought of handing her a Post-it with a clever phrase written on it, but thought the better of it.
“My Mac Pac monthly motorcycle breakfast is in the morning. I’ll be out of here around 7am. My guess is I’ll beat the plow guys.”
“Do you honestly think anyone is going to show up for the monthly motorcycle breakfast tomorrow... On the worst weather day of the year... An hour after the snow has stopped?” As with most questions that Leslie asks in this tone, the unspoken word “asshole” is strongly emphasized following the punctuation.
“If I were in your shoes, and didn’t want to be running around in the frigid, snow-covered driveway, clad only in baggy underwear, while the plow guys are blowing the horn at dawn tomorrow, I’d move that piece of shit Suburban right now,” Leslie warmly counseled.
I replied with a nod, and my special smile which has an unspoken emphasis all its own.
I found consciousness without the benefit of the clock at 6:15am (Sunday), and lay in bed reflecting on the fact that the whole world was under the silent white mute button of fallen snow. The only sound I could hear was... A plow scrapping through a driveway.
“Mutherfucka... Those assholes are really here,” I thought to myself, pulling up jeans over my baggy shorts.
I shoved a fat-assed, dozing dog away from the window and saw one of the town’s behemoth plows slamming through our cul de sac. False alarm. Nevertheless, it was time to get started. I couldn’t help but notice that the huge city plow wasn’t revealing the blacktop in its wake. A cup of magma-like expresso, with enough caffeine to reanimate a dead body, got me moving. The garage door went up like the curtain on outdoor inuit theatre. The same 15-inches of snow that covered the glass table out back also covered the Suburban. I used an old sponge mop to clear the hood, the windshield, the windows, and a lot off the roof.
Looking down to the street, the snow created an unbroken profile burying gardens, paths, steps, and the driveway, under a layer of white that suggested all imperfection can be covered by something, if you slather it on deeply enough. But I had now reached the moment of truth. Would this ancient rusting hulk handle 15 inches of unplowed snow on a curving driveway, with a slope?
What do you think?
This veteran vehicle of countless Adirondack snowstorms (that all made this one seem like a joke) fired right up and drove through the snow without hesitation. I picked up my riding partner Dick Bregstein, and we headed off to the Pottstown Family Diner, 10 miles away.
Present for the December Mac Pac December Monthly Breakfast were Roddy Irwin, Tom Byrum, Todd Byrum, Joe Dille, Chris Jaccario, his girlfriend Melinda, David Denesowicz, Dick Bregstein, and myself. By a quorum vote among those present, it was agreed that we had real balls, and were entitled to wear a special tee-shirt commissioned at club expense. There is something unique about getting together for breakfast with friends in a diner, when everyone else is watching cataclysmic news reports about how the world is ending under the worst snow storm of the year.
This little gathering was my first Christmas gift of the year.
I would like to say that each of the municipalities I drove through, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (Penn DOT) did a great job of managing the snowfall. Every main road was open to blacktop by the time breakfast concluded, and the side roads did not warrant 4-wheel drive.
The motorcycling season for myself and many others may have come to an end with this storm, however. Looking out at the street from my office window, I can clearly see little piles of salt, cinders, and sand in the road. The salt will melt. But the tons of other crap will pile up in curves and intersections, offering the highest entertainment value for riders leaning into a turn, and stay there until it is swept up sometime in April. This is especially sad news for me, as I believe I saw a box from Gerbings Heated Riding Gear arrive here yesterday.
Santa is as perceptive as she is beautiful.
Merry Christmas And Happy New Year...
©Copyright Jack Riepe 2009
AKA The LIndbergh Baby (Mac Pac)
AKA Vindak8r Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)
I have got to quit reading your crap, er, offerings, whilst snacking! Luckily it was only water and a ham sandwich. The dog appreciated it, tho. Sigh.
Be careful out there!! Sounds like Leslie knows you well, indeed! Glad your group was able to congregate.
We out here on the PNW are getting the rain equivelant of your snow....not as much fun.
I also have great affection for your Santa too. Too bad about the snow storm, but at least you have your trusty, rusted out Suburban.
bobskoot: wet coast scootin
We here in Northern Joyzee got about a foot of the stuff. Fly shit compared to where I come from. Having lived in Lake Placid yourself for a bit, I am sure you know what I mean. You have not lived until you attempt to negotiate a five foot snowbank compacted ice solid by the local snow removal people. On foot. In rush hour traffic.
Have you ever been to Montreal in winter? The snow removal vehicles are the size of Sherman tanks. And believe me. The size warrants it.
As for Leslie's suggestion about what to do with the Suburban, please please PLEASE tell her that it served as an ambulance last April.
I hereby knight thee, Jack Riep, Honorary EMT.
Once again, an incredibly hilarious post.
It may have served as an ambulance but . . . I can't get that image of the open backed hospital gown out of my mind. And Jack has his window open on purpose to the wind . . .
bobskoot: wet coast scootin
If I had a dime for every nice lady who showed me her ass in that truck I could afford a new one. The joke among my hunting buddies was the truck's name, "The Waldorf Astoria."
Thaks for reading and writing in -- Twice!!!
Jack • reep • Toad
I realize that both of us being Canuckistanis we are, all things considered, boring to our Yankee brethren.
But really, bro, you really have to get a life.
No one wants to see this old broad's bod. Even if 58 is the new 40.
Wow! Some of this is actually true! That guy in Total Wine's parking lot did say that most of the accidents he witnessed on I-95 involved Cadillacs.
The elements in the North Country are the spice of mountain life. Big snow was part of the thrill of living there. Hunting on cross-country skis or snow shoes was not uncommon.
There is no rush hour traffic in the Adirondacks. If you're in that much of a hurry, you leave the day before. The largest snow removal equipment I ever saw was in New York. There is a special plow configuration for the units in the Upstate region. (And by Upstate, I mean north of the Erie Canal, not 179th Street.) These trucks can plow three lanes of traffic at one time. I had heard they were called "Rome" plows, as they were alleged to be developed in Rome, NY.
I invited 70 people to the last New Year's Eve party I ever threw in the Adirondacks. Less than half showed. There were three feet of snow on the ground (from that week alone) and the temperature was 38º below zero. (We are talking about real temperatures, not that silly-assed metric shit.)
Weather stories are big in Philly. They write about the rain in summer.
They are so desperate for news stories in Philly... Especially the ones that don't begin with something like, "A hail of gunfire erupted at the Betsey Trotwood Elementry School today, when a teacher mistakenly tried to stop a 17-year-old third grader from taking a piss in the hallway.
"Azuba Stackpole, 64 and two weeks away from retirement, was hit six times in the chest with slugs fired by a student from a .45 automatic, for allegedly shouting 'Don''t piss in here.' She was suspended on the spot."
Leslie is aware of the truck's ability to multi-task. It is used as "the cigar smoking room," the manly mobile storage unit, and my private thinking room when I just want to see what the worls is doing, when lesser vehicles are confined to the driveway.
How is the Petrified Man doing? I haven't heard from Mack for awhile.
Thank you for reading my blog, and for writing in.
Jack • reep • Toad
Dear Stiffie (Leslie):
I'm glad you decided not to categorically list all the other true statements in this blog episode. You'd be typing for hours and I'd like you to bake me a pie now.
With the kind of fiery passion that makes me a logical candidate for getting burned at the stake,
Your Man Of Steel
Dear Agsidekick (Tena):
Contrary to your opening commentary, my work does have medicinal properties. Just yesterday, Dick Bregstein told me something I wrote made him shit.
Stiffie not only claims to know me well, but says she can predict my future too. It is a toss up between getting ridiculed on the World's Biggest Loser, or getting voted off Wysteria Lane on Desperate Housewives.
Thank you for reading my blog, and for commenting. Go poke Bugser in the eye for me.
Jack • reep • Toad
A light sprinkle of white fluffy stuff and 170000 flights cancelled?
You should see the bedlam over here in good 'ole blighty...
Thanks for the entertaining read that has restored me somewhat after my 6 hour 400 mile round trip attempt to drive to London this evening.
Standing proud (very) to be a BMW rider, yours N.
I have a sister in law that lives just northwest of DC. She sent me 5 pictures by email of the carnage around her house from the recent storm. She at least has a 22 year old son who was immediately summoned (ordered) to clear the drive and the walks. Last I heard, he was still at it.
This post was full of great phrases like the curtain on an outdoor inuit theater, but I have to question the remark about the size of appendages on BMW riders. The comfortable riding position afforded by scooters keeps inadvertent shrinkage from happening to scooterists. This has been confirmed by many scientific studies such as the ones being used to predict the eventual costs of the new health care plans.
And finally, If I was the recipient of some new heated riding gear, you can be sure I would find a way to try them our over the holidays or as soon thereafter that the snow and ice disappears. Just might have to take some of those corners at 50mph rather than the usual 85mph. A short trip to Total Wine would be an excellent way to test the new gear.
Have a merry one!
And you should be proud to be a BMW rider... There are very few machines that allow a rider to be a rugged individualist these days. And only a handful that do not look like they were stamped out of a comic book. There may only be one that consistently introduces innovations that other marques copy.
I ride a BMW because of the way it runs, and because it gets me laid. Check back again in a hour or two for an addendum to this blog. I have an answer regarding that oil leak in your wife's bike.
Thank you for reading my tripe and for commenting so cheerfully.
Jack • reep • Toad
This arthritis of mine is damn near emasculating when it comes to doing some of the most ordinary things... Like shoveling snow. While we expect the plow guys to make the driveway and garage bays usable, it is getting harder and harder to find les specialzed laborers to handle the walkways.
Where I grew up in cash-strapped Jersey City, gangs of kids would fight to shovel walkways for three and four dollars. Here in East Goshen, kids look at you like you just suggested performing an unnatural sex act if you offer them $20 to shovel 60 feet of walkway. One pig-faced douche asked me about contributing to his 401k, while another wanted to know about the depth of our home owners insurance, in the event he fell while shoveling snow.
So for the first tme in three years, I limped out to the side door -- with a cane in one hand and a shovel in the other -- and cleared a walkway 20 feet long and three feet wide. It took me 40 minutes to do half... Forty additional minutes to recover... And 40 more minutes to complete it. I felt like Uma Thurman fighting her way out of the coffin in "Kill Bill: Volume 2."
Leslie asked me to dig a path out to the center of the yard, so the dogs could take a piss in some comfort. I offered to hold a funnel attached to a hose instead, allowing them to iniate the transaction from the warmth of her studio. Stiffie was not amused.
There is a tremendous volume of traffic in these parts and the local municipalities are eager to keep it moving. They dump tons of sand on the roads. On the way to breakfast the other day (in the Suburban), I said to Bregstein, "Is that a dead deer in the road?" It was a pile of sand three feet long, two feet wide, and ten inches high -- in the left lane. You find surprises like this all winter. This is a real bitch if you are the kind who shuns gravel roads.
The Gerbings vest will be a real delight. It will replace the lining in my Joe Rocket Meteor 5 jacket, and has heated sleeves and a collar, as well as the panels in the front and back. The outlet I have (Standard BMW equipment) on the left side cover may lead to a 5amp fuse. The jacket liner draws 7amps, so it may be wiser to install a direct hook up to the battery rather than use this power source. This part runs around $22. The heat controller device is not included with the liner and costs an additional $89.
Still, this is going to feel real good.
Thank your for readng my tripe, and for writing in.
Jack • reep • Toad
Reading this was almost as much fun as breakfast at the PFD. Loved your post-it-note schtick and the follow through.
While we were enjoying a leisurely breakfast Jane almost backed out of the driveway on her way to work. The eighteen to 20 inches of snow hung her up in the neighbor's yard. Just then a guy with a plow came by, helped dig her out, and plowed the driveway for a paltry sum equal to what she would earn that day standing on her feet for eleven hours and hawking goo to make wrinkly women less wrinkly. As I gazed into the flames in my fireplace later that afternoon while watching football I thought it was well worth the money.
Jack: I enjoyed your blog as I sat in my office and looked out over our fields covered in winters majesty. I hate this shit!! Not only did we get 18" of this putrid white vermin it meant I had to be out there in it all day trying to plow the fields with paths so the donkeys, horses, etc. could "move around and get to their water" This excercise was coutesy of my munchkin like wife who worships the beast's far more than her"dumbass" husband. (no post-it required) Hopefully it'll be gone soon. Give me a call so we can chew the fat. No pun intended. Doug Braley
It was a great snowfall in my opinion. At the start I loaded the basement wood bin with 20 days of warmth as planned, sped easily to the store for some provisions, and spent the rest of the day enjoying a winter weather's entertainment. Put the tree up Sunday morning after shoveling out our cars and driveways, along with that of a neighbor a few doors north, in keeping with my generous and helpful nature. There were 23 inches on the ground Sunday morning and I didn't care. I wish this could happen every two weeks until April, June if I were greedy! But I must be thinking of the Adirondacks. Hope to be up there in each of the next two months, you?
Another great effort. It was good to see you at the breakfast.
That was the perfect snow. Not so much you get stuck, but just enough to clear out the malls on the busiest shopping day of the year. I had a great time teaching Joey how to drive in the white stuff.
I think we have about 5 inches of snow here in Wilmington. Enjoy it down there...and don't bring it when you come.
Jack, I like the way you make fun of the overhyping weather reporters.....we tend to halve whatever is the expected snow fall here and are usually correct.
It's good to see your municipal authorities can handle the snow. I used to live in Northern VA and they couldn't do anything with accumulations of more than one inch so the loads of snow they got recently probably locked up everything solid.
There's been reports from Uralistas in the area having a blast in the snow....almost makes me wish I was there...but we'll get snow here again...
I would have been jealous of our city plows clearing your culdesac, but with a Ural, there's no issues anymore. No more clearing a path out of the culdesac with the snow blower, no more clearing the sidewalks to use them to ride a motorcycle to the cleared main roads.....
One final note, I am sure the lovely and "should be nominated for sainthood" Stiffie does not call you shithead or asshole....I am sure she's above all that.
There is nothing more satisfying that pulling up to a driveway that you left choked with snow, to find it all nicely plowed out right up to the garage door. What made it all the more delightful for us is that we were were coming back from a warm, greasy spoon dinner breakfast. As you are aware, television news out of Philly is ridiculous.
We will do lunch before the Holiday... I have spoken.
Dear Doug Braley:
Just as the swallows come back to Capistrano, it will not officially be spring until you ride up for another Mac Pac Breakfast. It's funny... Before I rode a motorcycle, I ude to love a white Christmas. Now the snow is just a pain in the ass. Even if it melts here, there will still be enough gravel on the rode to tax the skill of a rider like myself.
Merry Christmas, Doug. Chewing the fat with you will be a pleasure.
Plan on jumping in the car and heading over here during the holiday. I'll roast us a couple of ducks and well put our feet up by the pile of paper logs in the fire place and relive old lies. Some of our hunting trips were the best times I ever had.
Dear Joe (Dille):
Like I said in my blog, there is nothing like meeting a group of special friends for breakfast in a dinner, when everybody else is cowering at home. I am hoping (against hope) that it will get slightly warm enough (with the predicted rain) to clear the snow by January 1. It would be swell to ride into the 1st of the year breakfast at Michaels.
Fondest regards, and Merry Christmas.
Dear Mike (Cantwell):
You have been appointed to the serve as the honorary chairman of the Annual Adirondack Ride. I am planning this a full five or six months in advance, and you will be instrumental in figure out the routes, the places to see, and the best joints to east and drink in.
We will be up there a week or five days.
....did someone hear that bus coming?
Cantwell, via Jack "r":
Jack has a way of delegating tasks. It was a hybrid bus with a silent electric powerplant.
bobskoot: wet coast scootin
Clearly I've not been myself lately as I missed this essay. Much of it is hard to understand. What is this snow of which you speak? I hope it gets better soon. Here in the keys we are supposed to pick up AFTER our dogs, not shovel before them. I guess it's a cultural thing.
Dear Charlie6 (Dom):
As a rule, reporters who over-hype things are my best friends. Nothing is more soothing to my eye, or generally more beneficial to my wallet, then a headline spawned by one of my releases. However, the manner in which weather stories are pushed through the skulls of the gentle viewer in the Philly area is utterly ridiculous. Summer rains get the same treatment as the winter snow routine. Yet on a day when the rain was horrible, sweeping a rider off his motorcycle and washing the bike int a ravine, there was virtually no coverage.
PennDot doe not always get the snow response formula correct. They were right on the money last weekend though. My only complaint, and it really isn't valid, regards the amount of cinders and sand dropped on the road. It's hard to tell what's really on the pavement at the current moment. It looks more salt, and tons of it, than anything else.
This is good as it will dissolve in the heavy rain predicted for the next two days.
I am thrilled that you are getting your money's worth out of the Ural in the snow. Little by little, you are tunring that machine into your signature bike with all of the mechanical improvements you are making. Be careful racing around on those mountain roads in the winter. I think a little ice in one of those high passes could give you a real adventure.
What kind of tires are you riding around on and do you have the option of studding the ones on the back?
I have been reading about another Ural, owned by Kelsey anf her husband, which seems to require a lot of mechanical attention.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Domingo.
Merry Christmas Jack - I loved your tale as always, and definitely like your approach to dealing with apocalyptic events - Chinese food!
Hope you had a very Merry Christmas, and have a very Happy New Year, hopefully not snowed in like last year
bobskoot: wet coast scootin
I love you, and you are right: while Jack might be a shithead and an asshole, I am above calling him that, at least online.
the lovely and soon-to-be-nominated-for-sainthood,
Dear Charlie6 (Domingo):
There you have it. The Ying and the Yang of my existance. In one hand, she holds the rose... In the other, a dagger.
Jack • reep • Toad
. . . but what a beautiful and talented ROSE she is. You are soooo lucky
bobskoot: wet coast scootin
Come on Riep, Yea yea big snow yea yea mind numbing idiocy of the 5th estate, that was weeks ago...What we really want to know is ..When is your next NEW blog post coming?? My Dr. has proscribed this drivel as part of my treatment and your delay in posting is shorting the duration of my remission...Let's get on the stick!
Respectfully yours, (not really)
You cannot just make a post like this, leaving us hanging, without giving us your "Adult Eggnog" recipe. Fork it over!
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