Bug Tales: The Rolling Igloo

One night, I was driving my ’63 Beetle on the Indiana Turnpike in a snowstorm. I found myself in a line of cars behind a snowplow in the right lane. We were doing maybe forty, give or take. I was pretty confident in my snow driving abilities, and the VW was as good as it got for that. I kept looking at the deserted left lane, which had several inches of fresh snow on it already. I finally lost my patience, felt a youthful surge of adrenaline (or did we do these things in order to make the adrenaline come on?) and made my move, into the left lane. Not a good idea.

It was dark, and the thick falling snow reflected in my feeble six-volt headlights, so I couldn’t see very far at all. I passed the line of cars, and when I got right up next to the plow, I was very surprised to find that its blade was angled left, shooting a stream of snow into the center median. And of course, me. I hadn’t counted on that! (a youthful tendency).

I was now doing about ten mph more than the plow. I momentarily considered backing off, but I was too committed having got this far, and plunged ahead. The curtain of snow buried my bug. The wipers stalled. I suddenly found myself in a windowless (and eerily quiet) igloo in the left lane of a snowy freeway doing 50 or 60 mph, and only feet away from a snow plow.

Yikes! I had to fight the instinct to back off, because that would put me right back in the snowplow’s discharge. So I just kept all the inputs the same, and keeping a cool head (literally), I tore open my side window and stuck my head out into the icy gale to navigate. Reaching out and around with my instantly-frozen left hand, I started clearing snow from the windshield until the little 6 volt wipers slowly came back to life. The advantage of the VW’s windshield being so close to one’s nose was finally appreciated. Try that in a modern car! On second thought, don’t try that in any car.