By Ross Markman
Took a leisurely drive out to the Bear Paws for the first time a couple weeks ago. Somehow, I returned unharmed.
And more miraculously, so did my car.
Someone should put a little note in two-door Hondas saying: "If there's lots of ice ahead and 10-foot ditches to each side, don't drive me here."
But there's no such note.
And, for some reason, my brain didn't register that this could, in fact, be dangerous.
It was Saturday. Just about noon.
It had snowed a couple days earlier, and there was still a thick layer of white stuff on the ground.
The sun beamed through the clouds and slowly (very slowly) melted the snow into slush.
I had a camera.
I wanted to take some pictures to send to my family and friends back home pictures of things not seen in Philadelphia. No better place than the Bear Paws and Beaver Creek Park, I figured.
So I drove out Fifth Avenue, unaware of what adventures lay ahead.
Keep in my mind that I'm not in a pickup or SUV like most drivers in Havre, those I like to refer to as the "smart people."
I'm in my Civic.
No snow tires.
No four-wheel drive.
No road flares.
A disaster in the making.
I put the car in low as the road grew slicker and the mountains got closer.
I'm going about 20.
Trucks pass me every few minutes.
My car swerves, so I pump the brakes. They work sort of.
I drop down to 10 mph.
I should have walked. It would have been safer and quicker.
I arrive at the park.
My car swerves again, just avoiding a run-in with the oncoming vehicle.
I proceed, all the while flashing back and fantasizing of the days when I owned a more Havre-worthy Jeep Wrangler.
And then something tells me to turn right.
So I do.
There standing majestically is a snow-covered hill, not intended for Honda Civics.
It was like something from one of those SUV commercials. You know, the ones that show some huge truck romping through the mountains and a disclaimer on the bottom of your TV screen that basically says, "Don't try this at home."
Well, I did.
Don't call me brave.
My car made it to the summit of the great hill, but not without slipping and sliding and nearly plummeting toward the level ground, which was seemingly 40 feet below.
I whip out the disposable Kodak and snap some shots from the mountaintop, keeping one eye on the Civic the whole time, making sure it doesn't slip down that hill like if it did, there was something I could do to stop it.
I get back in the car to revel in my accomplishment.
And then something hit me: How the hell was I going to get down?