Why did I move here? Not driving on winter roads, that's for sure

I get the question all of the time when people find out I am from Arizona.

“Why did you move here?”

It is a fair question, I suppose, and that is especially true this time of year. The day I am writing this column, it will be 18 degrees here, and 79 degrees in my hometown.

Sure, I would rather be in 79 degrees, riding my motorcycle and eating fantastic Mexican food.

But I love the Midwest and have lived here for many years. There are some wonderful people here and I do love the area.

As I have written before, I am not a winter person, and really don’t partake in any winter activities beyond snow shoveling and complaining incessantly.

The only thing I can’t get around is driving in the stuff. I live roughly 30 miles from the place I work, so that means I have to be prepared to drive in any weather. That is often not a problem, but in the winter, it can present its challenges.

I was terrified the first few times I drove in winter weather. I had zero experience driving a vehicle that could slip off into the ditch at the side of the road at any second. I saw huge trucks with 4-wheel drive on the side of the road and that was pretty troubling. (Turns out it is usually the over-confident dude in a huge truck that ends up going in the ditch).

I have learned how to handle the roads over the years, although I would not say I am that confident or that it is something that I enjoy. But I do have a few strategies:

* Drive my Jeep and put it in 4-wheel drive. I know that 4-wheel drive won’t save me, but it gives me better traction and, honestly, makes me feel better.

* I try not to change lanes unless I have too. There is a ton of slush built up between lanes.

* I try not to drive too slow. Driving cautiously is fine and smart. But driving way too slowly can cause real problems for everyone on the road. All it takes in one vehicle to zip past a super slow driver to cause a chain reaction of brakes, sliding and metal crunching.

* Driving too fast is also out. Allow yourself plenty of time and keep your head.

I used all of these when driving to work last week after a night of snow. I got behind a person in Rockford going about 8 MPH, which clogged traffic badly. Seriously, if you are so terrified that you have to go so slow that a guy in a snowsuit on the side of the road can walk faster than you are driving, stay home.

I had the standard huge truck blow by me, throwing up snow and acting like a fool. But I always expect those.

I also expect the random dude who cleaned just enough snow off of his car that he could see out the windshield. The back window is still covered with snow, as are his mirrors. I try not to get behind these geniuses, because that snow on their car has to come off sometime.

Generally, be safe out there, folks. We only have another couple of months of this to deal with. And then it will be spring and finally my beloved summer.

Summer is a time of year that no one questions why we live here. Summer is a time for us to brag, as I do to friends suffering from 115-degree heat.

We’ll make it there soon, but please be safe until we do.