Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bad Case of the Heaves

Frost heave season is here. Despite predominantly warmer than average temperatures, the usual areas have managed to swell and drop into their familiar winter patterns.

As the winter progresses, heave-prone areas raise their familiar hummocks and ridges. Some of these are isolated. In other cases, the bumpity jumble of jolting lumps jerks the steering wheel and jams the suspension seemingly without end. By April my car always needs a tie-rod end or two.

You get used to seeing catalytic converter covers, rusty mufflers, even the occasional rear bumper in the road, particularly if a large heave forms on a moderately steep hill. Trailer hitches gouge the steep faces of these bulges. Residents even name them. One in Effingham (NH), now eliminated by massive reconstruction of the road bed, was called The Ski Jump, because of the way it would launch unwary or adventurous drivers who came down the hill too fast. I used it strategically a couple of times to teach tailgating speeders the error of their ways.

One time was particularly satisfying. I knew the secret of the Ski Jump, which was to cut sharply to the left at the top and back to the right at the bottom. So I let the tailgater push me to the ridiculous speed he wanted, then spurted forward just before the jump, far enough to stay clear of his wreckage, but too close for him to realize what I was doing and follow me. Perfecto! I was far enough ahead to get a good rear-view mirror look as his little truck shot high in the air, then slammed down, headlights first pointing into the sky, then illuminating a tiny patch of road barely beneath him as his front bumper slammed into the pavement. The truck bounced a few more times as it rolled down the rest of the hill. The tailgater slowed down to a very sedate speed and stayed the hell away from me after that.

Sometimes life is just plain good.

This morning I negotiated some rough seas on Route 153 coming out of Freedom and saw a car door beside the road. How fast was that guy going?

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