Don’t drive too close and too fast, do take a brisk walk in winter

Tuesday, Jan. 20, the Old Men of the Mountain charged off to the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie, where the breakfasts are man-sized. One OF who generally orders a la carte enough for two or three OFs ordered just one item from the special board and needed a box to take some of it home; this OF does not have a dog.

As we get older, the OFs (as we get older — wasted words — the OFs are old) have a fear of falling. The OFs consider that fear is one of the best reasons for using Tim Conway steps in the wintertime in many places.

This was brought about by the icy driveways from the one day that the temperature climbed to above freezing and then went right back down. All the driveways and most of the walkways of the OFs were like that — ice under a coating of light snow.

The OFs definitely do not want their feet to skid out from underneath them as they crash to the frozen ground. Two problems are now in place: Either something is going to become broken, or the OGs will be down and won’t be able to get up.

Being down and not able to get up is a problem at any time, and any place. Some OFs carry a cane, not that they need it to walk with, but often times, when the OFs bend down to pick something up, they need something to push on to get back up.

Pondering pileups

The OFs also talked about all these multi-car pileups all over the country — and this is a big country. The OFs wondered why there have been so many in recent times. There have been icy roads before and nothing like the magnitude of cars that are involved in these pileups.

The OFs had some reasons why this is happening. The best reason is “too close, too fast” and that coupled with distracted driving makes the matter even worse. From the videos, it looks like most of these vehicles never even slowed down.

As one OF’s nephew’s wife said in exasperation (as she was being pressured into getting things ready for Thanksgiving): “What’s the freaking rush?”

That is exactly what the OFs were wondering — what is the freaking rush? Where is everybody going in such a hurry?

One OF blamed it on the new cars. The OFs have mentioned this before, and it seems like the OFs are prophets in a sense.

The older cars required concentration to drive. The OFs had to listen to the engine and know when it began to lug and the vehicle had to shift down. Conversely, as the engine began to rev up and run free, it was time to shift up.

The OFs also had to know how to take turns using speed, slowing down when entering a turn, and adding power halfway through the turn, because there were not many vehicles with power steering.

Today, cars practically drive themselves, the cabins are quiet, and most ride smooth, like old Chryslers or Buicks. Today, after driving five miles, the driver has a tendency to lose concentration, and, to substitute for all this, the drivers today go to their tunes, or phones, or whatever to keep from being so bored driving they might fall asleep.

Looking at those videos of the pileups, the OFs think that many drivers of cars and trucks that kept piling into the mess ahead of them were in that state of mind.

Discussing driving

The OFs continued discussing driving.

One of the OFs returned from visiting family in Atlanta, Georgia so many of the OFs who have been to the Atlanta area began to talk about traffic in and around that city.

At times, on the major roads around any big city, strangers who are not sure of where they are going may be in one of the center lanes and see the sign for their exit. Now it becomes a big whoop if the driver can get over to exit at his or her exit.

Traffic may carry the uninitiated driver down two exits before he or she can exit. (Canada has alleviated this problem by installing “collector lanes” that allow one to move over and select his or her exit from the comfort of this lane).

One OF said he thinks it is the time of day because this OF was on one of these roads in Atlanta and in one of the center lanes when he spotted his exit. The OF put on his blinker, and a tractor-trailer in the next lane over slowed up and let the OF in.

To get over into the next lane, a tow truck slowed up and let him in, and to get into the final lane (so the OF could get off at his exit, which was approaching rather quickly) a city bus slowed and let him in the far right-hand lane and the OF made his exit. Just like anything else, at times it is not all bad, but it is scary. Yet it is still too close, too fast.

Hearing about hiking

We have mentioned before that some of the OFs are hikers and we’ve told of some of the work they do to maintain trails and hiking destinations. Tuesday morning, the hikers were talking about their hiking.

It should be noted that this scribe is not a hiker — this scribe is more of a lover, a thinker, and a painter of where the hikers hike.

Apparently, like all enthusiasts of whatever hobbies they have, weather does not deter them and these OFs were talking about hiking, working on trails, and contending with whiteouts. More of the OFs should bundle up and get outside even for a little bit.

These OFs maintain that just 20 minutes or so of good clean air will help keep you fit. Plus the added exercise of donning 15 pounds of clothes just to get out would help in the fitness department too.

Those OFs who put on just enough clothes to make it to the Country Café in Schoharie, and use calories to keep warm, were: Roger Shafer, Chuck Aleseio, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Roger Chapman, Frank Pauli, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gil Zabel, Harold Grippen, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, and me.