my dad, my step-mom, and I jumped into a nondescript van with a man we had just met. This isn’t as seedy as it sounds. I was on my apartment hunt with one day to find a place and absolutely zero knowledge about the Dubuque area. At that point it was late in the afternoon and I had looked at about five equally horrifying apartments.
The VanMan, just like so many men before him, promised me the world.
Dubuque has 200 snowplows! You’ll have no problem getting up and down these hills!
VanMan, you were one slick sonofabitch. I love my apartment for its wood floors, stained glass doors and views of the city; but the hills that surround my apartment building are some of the most treacherous in the city. After a snowstorm there is simply no safe way up or down the bluff. And 200 snowplows? Really?
In the following years, I slowly evolved from a lumbering buffalo into a spry mountain goat. I have always lived on the flat prairie, so steep hills were a serious adjustment for me. Within the first two weeks in my apartment I managed to hit the maintenance man’s truck, spin off an exit ramp, and slide down fifth street in my car. I was lucky that Ed the maintenance man didn’t care about his truck and that my car landed safely in snow drifts during the last two incidents.
I also fell flat on my ass an average of two times each week during my first winter.
I learned the key to surviving a Dubuque winter is to find alternate routes when I snowstorm is in full swing. West Fifth and West Third should not even be attempted. The “dead man’s curve” in the middle of the slope on fifth is terrifying. Meanwhile, West Eighth is less terrifying. When that route in impassable, there is always Highway 20.
I’ve also become a pro at skidding, utilizing my anti-lock brakes, and driving up hills sideways, but I try not to whip out those ninja skill unless I must.
This year I have also invested in my own internet connection so I can work from home when the weather is frightful!
Take that, VanMan.