Sunday, February 7, 2016

Photo-of-the-Week #249 Reminiscing, My Mountain Home. Winchester, Virginia 1993-2003

Two weeks ago, as of the time of this writing, the east coast experienced the “Blizzard of 2016.” The thought of that snow event had me reminiscing about all the snow and snow events I've experienced during my nearly 71 year lifetime. Growing up in northern New Jersey during the last half of the 1940's through the middle of the 1960's, then experiencing two years of frozen white snow and freezing cold hell in Syracuse, New York should have been enough, one might think. Thanks to my Uncle Sam and Vietnam, I was plucked from Syracuse and sent to San Antonio, Texas for about 8 months during the next winter.

Then I was relocated to the”South” in the Mid-Atlantic region. It's important to understand, those of us from northern New Jersey during that time believed anything south of the Delaware Memorial Bridge crossing from South Jersey into Delaware was “The South.” But, I learned different when it came to the weather.

Sure, the folks started talking different as I came south and said things like “all y'all” and “come back now, heah.” But, what I didn't know was that the freezing cold and white fluffy stuff didn't stop at the South Jersey border.

I was moved to the DC area by the Air Force in 1970 at age 25 for three years, but remained in that area for four years total. Then I moved to the Chesapeake Bay and Annapolis, Maryland area from 1974 until 1984. In 1984 I moved to the Shenandoah Valley and the Winchester, Virginia area where I lived until 2010 (officially, but I still use this region as my unofficial base of operations until the current day). I have experienced some ferocious winter snow events and freezing temperatures in the “South.”

This weeks photos are of my Mountain Home a couple miles west of the small rural city of Winchester. I lived here from mid 1993 until the beginning of 2003 except for about a year and a half when I left the mountain during 1995 to 1996. The total area of the house was about 3,000 square feet and it sat on about 4.3 acres, almost all wooded, as you can see, about 100 feet below the crest of the small mountain on the western side. This is significant. This house, like everyplace I've lived, holds some significant memories.

The house itself was a very well constructed and warm bi-level ranch style home. I basically lived on the upper floor. On the lower floor was my son's room and my business offices. The entrance to the main office was through the door next to the chimney. I had offices and a recording studio/production suite down there. Significant, though, were the snow events I experienced on the mountain. We had some serious snow and ice events there.

This photo of the driveway doesn't nearly depict the steepness of the incline to get up to the 180 degree dogleg at the top of what you can see in the photo. This incline was so steep that inclines like this on the open road cause trucks to labor to go up and always have runaway truck ramps on the down side.

The significance of being all wooded and on the western side of the mountain is that during the winter, when the days are short and the sun doesn't get very high in the southern sky (looking up the driveway is looking south-southeast) the sun doesn't get high or warm enough to melt the snow or ice. So, it was not uncommon to still have significant snow and ice three weeks after Winchester's snow, in the valley on the eastern side of the mountain, was completely gone.

During a snow (and especially an ice) event, my snowplow guy and I were the only two people who could get up the driveway. On many occasions, I had to slide many friends' cars back down the driveway when they got stuck part way up. Then I had to drive their cars to the parking area at the top. I usually had to drive it back down for them when they left.

I fractured my ankle at the bottom of the driveway at the beginning of the incline during one ice event. My significant other, at the time, got stuck right at the bottom and slid into the drainage ditch on the left side going up. She couldn't even get out of the left side of her car. I slipped, fell and went sliding under her car as I was attempting to figure out how to get her out of that situation. I won't tell you how painful it was to slide myself up that driveway on my backside, pushing with one foot and pulling with my hands in the slippery ice.

I eventually called a tow truck, with chains, of course, and he got her car out. Meanwhile I couldn't drive and after the storm was over, I couldn't get to a doctor for over two weeks. I'm not going to begin to tell you about the road coming up the mountain that was equally steep and had a serious S curve to negotiate. Let's just say, it was as treacherous as my driveway.

There were a lot of other things that happened at that house that I won't go into. It was another of my dreams to live on a mountain with beautiful views. While I completely loved the house and living there, when I left, I left behind a significant number of “ghosts.” I lived on that mountain, in two different houses, for about half my total years living in the Winchester area. That's the longest I've ever lived in any one house and especially in one “community” (in the two houses) in my entire life.

But, how can you beat having a place with different views and different dynamics for each of the four seasons? Live your dreams. I've been so fortunate to live so many of mine.

Live free and be happy. EH    

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