When I pulled into the office parking lot Monday morning, I turned the key back to off and sat there for a minute to think about how sick I was of …
This item is available in full to subscribers.
If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.
Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.
If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.
When I pulled into the office parking lot Monday morning, I
turned the key back to off and sat there for a minute to think
about how sick I was of driving.
Over the past week, I’ve become something of a connoisseur of
the South Metro area’s ice-covered roadways.
My ordeal began Thursday as I was at a lunch meeting in downtown
Denver. As the first of our spring storms was hammering the roads
outside the restaurant, I was inside listening to one of the
gentlemen at my table talk about how much he enjoyed playing Mario
Kart on his Nintendo Wii. No one else at the table was familiar
with the game, so he explained some of his favorite features. One
was picking various tracks he felt were challenging or suited his
driving style the best.
I don’t know how his gaming skills paid off during the following
few hours as he and everyone else evacuated downtown during the
peak of the storm, and I wonder if he even fired up the game when
he finally made it home.
The irony of that conversation stuck with me through what felt
like thousands of hours trapped behind the wheel of my truck
navigating icy roads. Between the moments of panic, there was
plenty of down time for me to take stock of the obstacles on the
road that, if I had the power, I would ban from reality and lock up
inside the video game world.
Here are some of mine:
Roundabouts. As I ricocheted through the one at the east of
Mainstreet in Parker last Monday morning on my way to work, I
discovered a level of hatred for these things that I didn’t think I
Even when they’re dry, they’re no great friend of the commuter
who passes through them with his or her head on a swivel trying to
make sure no one is disobeying the “rules” of the roundabout.
Add a nice glaze of ice to them, and you have a driving
challenge unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Round-a-bouts have
become something of a phenomenon in our part of the world and are
referred to sometimes in planning documents as traffic-calming
devices, though no one I know calls them that. These little slices
of heaven would be better left to the video game world.
Changing lanes on Main Street in downtown Littleton in the snow.
To public works professionals reading this, don’t think for a
second that I don’t understand everyone is a critic when it comes
to snow removal. Some jobs lend themselves to that sort of thing.
I’m a newspaper editor, so I’ve walked a few miles in those
particular moccasins myself over the years. If that’s not enough, I
was finishing up my sidewalk shoveling duties last Thursday morning
when my wife poked her head out the window to encourage me not for
forget to shovel the front porch (which we never, ever, ever use,
by the way). So trust me, on several levels, I know.
That said, I had the pleasure of being in the right lane when I
needed to be in the left last Friday and all that stood in my way
was a 2-foot-high wedge of slush running down the center line of
the street. Instead of checking my mirrors for a lane change, I
felt like I was planning an escape. I was thinking about things
like, “If the slush grabs the wheel, do I aim for the golf shop or
the hair salon? Which is … softer?” Definitely something that
belongs in a game.
The junction of C-470 and E-470. Bet you didn’t know there was a
difference beyond the toll plazas, huh? Well, there is. One is
maintained by the E-470 Public Highway Authority while the other is
maintained by the state. What this looks like on a frosty Friday
morning drive is a merely wet road that invites calm cruising at 60
mph abruptly becoming a snowpacked and icy road that invites pure
white-knuckle terror at 60 mph. Unless a quarter-mile of sandy,
slushy transition can link the two to give the unsuspecting driver
a heads-up, leave this sort of hard transition in road conditions
to the video game world.
The left turn from Founders Parkway to Front Street in Castle
Rock. My buddy at lunch said Mario Kart allowed you to pick karts
that are designed to slide sideways through turns while maintaining
control and speed. My 10-year-old Ford Ranger was not designed this
way, which made Monday’s rounding of this downward, outward sloping
turn a real gut-check moment. I have a feeling the guy driving the
sedan in front of me, who slid broadside into the side of a fire
truck, would agree that snow-covered corners sloped like this have
no place outside a game console.
Once again, you can’t beat the real world for entertainment.
Jeremy Bangs is the managing editor for Colorado Community
Newspapers. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other items that may interest you
We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.