Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, I didn’t really give a whole lot of thought to car care. I figured you changed the oil now and then, and that was pretty much it. But living in the mountains, I realize how important it is to take care of your car, most especially your tires. Driving around curvy, windy mountain roads can take a toll on your tires as I soon found out shortly after we moved here.
I’ve owned a Subaru Forester since 2001, first a 2001, then later a 2008 model. I figured I had it made, getting an AWD Subaru — it would go through anything. But I soon realized that wasn’t true after moving to Nederland. I had all-season tires on the car, and within months, the tread was wearing down quickly. The dirt roads we drive on routinely getting to and from home will grind away the ordinary all-season tire in no time at all. I found this out the hard way, when I slid backwards down a road in our neighborhood after an early October snowfall. So after fearing for my life the first winter here as I slid up and down hills, I decided to purchase snow tires for the following winter. What a difference! I’ve noticed people who have never driven on snow tires say they are not worth the money. But the peace of mind from being able to drive around curves and navigate steep hills all winter long is more than worth it to me.
But summer tires can be just as important as I found out from that first summer. After experimenting with conventional “street” tires, I’ve found that all-terrain tires with an aggressive tread handles the dirt and rocks of the roads around here with greater ease. All-terrain tires don’t slip and slide on the dirt like other tires do, and the tread holds up a whole lot longer.
The trick is always figuring out when to change tires. In Colorado, our “winter” season can last a whole lot longer than other places. Trucks driving I-70 are required to carry chains from early September through May each year, which gives you an idea of how long a Colorado “winter” can last. We can often get heavy snows as early as mid-October, and the snow can last through into May, as we’ve seen the last two springs. After waiting for awhile this year, I finally took the plunge the other day, and decided it was time to take off my snow tires and put on my summer all-terrains. All is well, right?
Not quite. I took the car to the tire place to get my summer tires put on. They put my winter snow tires in the back of the car. Since we don’t have a garage, we store a lot of things in our crawl space, which is an access door under our deck. It’s a bit of a pain, because the deck is not quite high enough that you can stand up, so you sort of have to squat down and shuffle under the deck to get to the door to the crawl space. Today, as I shuffled under the deck, clutching two of my tires, I whacked my head on one of the beams supporting the deck. This caused me to lose my balance, falling backwards on my back. Then I lost my grip on both tires. Our house is built on the top of a slope, so as soon as I let go of the tires, they started rolling down the hill, bouncing along. I stared back at them, to see the one tire rolling, picking up speed, hitting a rock, bouncing up in the air and flying over a log. I yelled a not so nice word, and chased down the hill.
I had to hike all the way down to the bottom of the hill, pluck my tire from a wild rose bush where it had finally beached itself, go searching among the rocks for the other tire, and hike back up the steep slope, clutching my tires, one in each arm. After I retrieved the tires and played back the scene in my mind, it seemed like something out of an old Lucille Ball movie — what is they say, that truth is stranger than fiction? By the time I finally made it back to the crawl space door, I was exhausted. Who knew changing your tires could result in such an adventure? Just another peril that comes along with mountain living.