Perhaps the one image in the wake of Wednesday’s storm that justifies the post-apocalyptic language that is now apparently a cable news requirement for any significant snowfall: abandoned cars. Or at least they looked abandoned, buried under natural and manmade snowdrifts on the side of the road. A few are still untouched, their owners perhaps stubbornly refusing to take to the road again until Mother Nature does the excavation work herself with solar power.
The past couple of snowfalls have brought warnings against taking to the roads, but people seemed to take the advisory seriously this time around. I was content to work from home, but still needed to get out into the city to see how it was faring. But like most other residents, I didn’t want to spend an hour shoveling out my car and chance a street still covered with a packed down layer of snow. What was one to do?
Why, go skiing, of course. It was a perfect day for it.
I have two pairs of skinny racing cross-country skis, but they are fickle things that require waxing, scraping, and all the equipment and time that entails. I decided to break out the more leisurely “fishscales,” the armored tank of cross-country skis: heavy, reliable, and absolutely devoid of speed. Stuffed in my coat were a water bottle, a camera, and my phone to send out tweets on anything notable going on.
I left in the late morning, and conditions couldn’t have been better. The city had essentially become a giant ski course. Most streets weren’t cleared down to the pavement, and offered a nicely groomed surface. The question of which side of the street one should ski on is one that doesn’t come up too often, but going against traffic seemed to work; cars were few and far between, and all of them gave a wide berth. Of the people I passed, shoveling or snow blowing or venturing out on foot, the top comment was usually some variant of, “Now that’s the way to travel today!”
I wasn’t the only one to think so. On Bank Street, a pair of tracks betrayed another skier. I happened upon him at the corner, and he let me know that he had broken a trail along the pier in . He was the only one who had been out there. The tracks ran like a mimicking parallel to the nearby railroad line, which remained blanketed in the wake of an Amtrak delay.
Skiing will build your appetite, and I decided that any restaurant that remained open in the middle of the storm deserved some business. Most of Bank Street was shuttered, but the neon signs of still gave off a welcome glow. After refueling with a cheeseburger grinder and Coke, I headed back out.
The city was still largely devoid of traffic and pedestrians, but the signs of the ’ effort were already evident on the journey up State Street. The road was asphalt again, completely impassable for the pair of downtown skiers, and large portions sidewalk had also been cleared of their wintry covering. I knew I had a few hundred pounds of snow to dig away from my car when I returned. But for just a little while, I wouldn’t have minded letting the storm go on.