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Even short trips can be journeys

Drew Werner

While taking a beautiful scenic drive to Sylvan Lake last winter, I pulled over to the side of the road, letting an oncoming car get by. The roads were recently snow-covered and the plow that had passed a day or two earlier had nicely filled in the ditches on either side of the road.

If only I knew then what I know now. Driving my SUV in four-wheel drive, I confidently pulled over and proceeded to drop into a three-foot ditch. The driver of the other car politely waved as he passed me, not thinking I was going nowhere. Cell phones didn’t work and in my recently cleaned SUV we didn’t have water, food, a shovel or much else, for that matter. The snow boots I was wearing barely covered my ankles and my gloves were warm enough to walk across a parking lot in Eagle.

I don’t think I cursed, but my wife would be the better judge of that. After 35 minutes of pushing and spinning tires, I managed to do little more than drive 50 feet forward or backward. Getting out of the ditch simply wasn’t going to happen.



Suddenly, a very nice gentleman driving a pickup came upon us. He rolled down his window and asked if I had tow chains. A broad smile crossed his face, as I replied, “No.”

He calmly spoke back, “Well, I do.” Two minutes later I was back on the road. To this day I don’t know his name, but I won’t forget the kindness he showed or the lesson his smile taught me.



I learned that staying healthy is something we need to do wherever we are and whenever we travel. With winter now in full swing, it is a perfect time to talk about being prepared when we travel through the mountains.

Even a short drive can be a journey. Just ask my wife. On a recent Sunday afternoon, she decided join me on my drive to Valley View Hospital and we found ourselves stuck in the canyon for three hours. The point is, it is the unexpected that we need to be prepared for. (Part of that is the Boy Scout in me.)

Whenever I present information, I try to get it from the most up-to-date and expert source available. I was happy, then, to talk with Patrol Deputy John Chiodo of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. Together we came up with the following recommendations:



n Even for short trips, plan on several hours on the road.

n Carry any medication you may need to take within the next few hours.

n Make sure you have water to drink for everyone you are traveling with.

n Snacks and healthy food are a good idea.

n Keep warm blankets in the car in case you get stuck.

Have an emergency kit that includes:

n Some signal device such as a red flag.

n Flares.

n Basic first aid kit (bandages, antibiotic ointment, gauze, medical tape).

n Ibuprofen and acetaminophen in children and adult doses.

n Keep warm clothes in the car, especially gloves.

n Sand, a shovel and tow chains or a strap are a good idea.

n A cell phone (fully charged).

Other wise advice from Deputy Chiodo:

n Remain with your car unless you can’t be seen from the road.

n If your car runs keep the exhaust clear from snow and other obstructions to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

n Remember to slow down!

n Remember, four-wheel-drive vehicles take as long to stop as two-wheel-drive vehicles.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing John and many of our fine sheriff’s deputies, police officers and State Patrol officers. We are very fortunate to have them. However, I’m sure you will agree that you’d rather meet them when they don’t have to turn on those flashing lights atop their cars.

Please keep your questions coming in. The only bad question is the unanswered one.

Remember your health is your responsibility. Health is our greatest asset and it doesn’t happen by accident. If something doesn’t seem right, or questions are left unanswered, don’t wait – call your doctor.

Dr. Drew Werner of the Eagle Valley Medical Center writes a weekly column for the Daily. He encourages health questions. Write him by e-mail to editor@vaildaily.com or c/o Editor, Vail Daily, P.O. Box 81, Vail, 81658.


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