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1-for-5: May not rival Patriots record, but good enough for me

Yes. I'm from California. And, yes, I drive too fast, too slow — or not at all, especially when there's frozen stuff on the roads.

Oregon natives feel free to adopt a superior tone toward my vehicular wimpishness.

"You don't have four-wheel drive?" they ask, with a sniff. The kinder ones offer advice: "Just go slow and don't use the brakes."

Who drives without brakes? What about stop signs, signals and cross traffic? My ultimate defense is to announce my 0-4 record in keeping my tires between the lines on snowy roads.

"I slid off the road in Pasadena during a hailstorm. Do you really want me out there? Think of the innocents."

That usually works.

But last weekend, fate forced me to face my fear of frost.

It is my turn to fly solo as the Trib's lone Sunday reporter. My shift begins just as heavy snows began blanketing our area.

Calling in sick or snowbound is not an option. The presses must roll, so they keep telling me.

Muttering dire predictions of driving doom, I drive in from Rogue River and spend eight hours following road closures, listening to scanners scream about rollover accidents and fielding faxes from first responders requesting everyone to STAY OFF THE ROADS.

The snow continues to pile as the hours slide by. The dropping mercury turns the roads into linear ice rinks.

Shift over. Should I tempt fate and head home, or sack out in the couchless newsroom? My beau calls and offers to chain up and ride to my rescue. But it will take him hours to get to Medford. Plus we'd both end up driving back north together — in ever worsening conditions.

I opt to try it alone. But I'll need a plan. First, get in my two-wheel drive SUV-wannabe and send up a prayer. Check.

Oops. Uncheck. The little Rav-4 is buried under mounds of snow. And its doors are frozen shut.

Ripping several fingernails to the quick, I eventually pry the driver's door open, grab the ice scraper and get to work on the windows.

Plopping back in the car, the view from the front seat shows more scraping was needed. But the door is frozen shut. I'm trapped inside.

Never one to overreact, I beat on the window like a frantic moth, cuss a blue streak, rip at the inner locks and slam my shoulder into the side of the door. Many bruises later, the door bursts open and I finish clearing for takeoff.

Except now the door won't close. I ignore the "Your Door Is Ajar" light on the dash and grab my cell.

My beau gets an earful of my woes. He is understandably skeptical of my ability to successfully navigate home since I can't seem to make it out of the parking lot.

"Why don't you just stay in a hotel?" he suggests.

The question ticks me off. They say anger is a secondary emotion. But I find it useful.

"I'm getting home," I snarl, adding he is to pull me out of a ditch. Or notify my next of kin. Just in case.

Crunching out of the parking lot, I creep along icy back roads at a blistering 15 mph, trying not to step on the brakes.

The late-night trek keeps me on the road till almost midnight. But it is mostly drama free — except for a few miles outside Gold Hill where heavily falling snow combines with the unplowed highway and turns my entire world relentlessly white.

"Hey! I can't see," I announced to no one in particular just as the blanketing snowfall gives way to lightly drifting flakes.

My record is now 1-for-5. And, best of all, no natives (California or Oregon) got hurt.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497, or e-mail her at sspecht@mailtribune.com.