Last November I was in Montana when it started snowing. I completely freaked out. My heart was pounding and I was sure sudden death was about to befall me. I just knew I was about to crash into oncoming traffic, slide off a mountain pass, or hit a herd of deer. I pulled off at the nearest town and made my motel-hating friend stay in a dumpy room with five different wallpaper patterns and no bathtub. She was displeased.

Particularly because it snowed less than an inch that evening.

What can I say? I’m from Seattle. They cancel school in the Pacific Northwest if a threatening looking snow cloud is on the horizon. I’ve also been living in Las Vegas, where everyone is still talking about the great snowfall of ’08. It was also less than ½ an inch. Clearly, I never learned how to drive in the snow.

So I wisely decided to move to Denver. In January.

As I hurriedly threw clothes, cowboy boots, and teaching supplies into my little Honda I received a plethora of unhelpful hints for driving in the snow. Here are some of my favorites:

“Watch out for black ice on the freeway:” Okay, isn’t black ice supposed to be invisible? If that is the case, how does one “watch out” for it? Also, if I magically happen to see this invisible substance on the freeway, my options will be to just keep going and accept the tailspin and sudden death, or to slam on my brakes, (which apparently you are NOT supposed to do) and accept the tailspin and sudden death. Great advice.

“Turn in the direction your car is sliding:” This tidbit came from my mom who grew up in Spokane and regularly laughs at all the Seattleites who can’t drive in the snow. Including me. This advice also makes no sense to me.

            Mom: “Yes, I’m serious. Turn in the direction your car is sliding.”

           Me: “So if I’m sliding towards a sketchy looking guardrail that won’t stop me from careening down a mountainside, I should seriously turn towards said guardrail? Really?”

          Mom: “Well, if you’re in that situation, then I don’t know what to tell you.”

Helpful. Thanks.

“Here. Read this chart:” This also came from my mom, who cut out a “winter driving tips” article from the Everett Herald. The article contained several graphics of cars and several sets of arrows. The arrows indicated which way you should turn based on whether your right, left, front, or back tires were sliding towards the left or right. I studied the chart. Then I promptly forgot which way I was supposed to turn my steering wheel if my back tires where sliding towards the left. When I complained about this lack of memory problem to my mom, she suggested that I keep this chart in my car.

Great plan. That way if one set of tires is acting inappropriately at 70 mph all I have to do is locate my chart, try and remember my right from my left, and turn the wheel accordingly. While driving. I should totally be able to do that.

“Buy some snow tires:” I flat out refuse to spend any more money on tires. I’ve bought six tires in the last six months. I’m done.

“Wait to drive to Denver until I can come with you:” This came from Denise, who’d been my road trip buddy through that awful one inch blizzard in Montana. She clearly has no faith in my ability to remain calm and/or functional in the snow. Unfortunately she was scheduled to be in Hawaii when I needed to be in Denver, so that wasn’t going to work. I’d be driving solo.

“Ma’am, you need to slow down:” This tip came from a skinny little guy in an oversized police uniform as he was handing me a $91 speeding ticket. For the record, I was only going five miles an hour and I was in Arizona – no snow yet. While this tip was probably the most useful one I received, the $91 ticket was in no way, shape, or form helpful.

“Baby, don’t go to Denver, it snows there!” This last piece of advice was from this-guy-I’m-kinda-dating. He’d been launching a full scale anti-Denver campaign in the days preceding my move. This also included things like “Tim Tebow sucks” and “Denver is full of hikers and skiers” and “the Colorado Rockies stole Carlos Gonzalez from my Oakland A’s.” However I like hiking, skiing and Tim Tebow. And Carlos is pretty much the main reason why I’m moving in Denver. Chalk up another unhelpful hint.

The only helpful piece of information I got was from the Weather Channel app on my cell phone. The roads from Las Vegas to Denver were scheduled to be clear for the ten days surrounding my trip. Thank God.