I have tried to get Basswood to blog about his travels and adventures, but he doesn’t like to write. So, I am going to try and blog about his trip to Mexico and Guatemala this winter. He is heading there to learn Spanish and to go to some kind of seed institute to learn about saving seeds.
I took Basswood down to the Minneapolis/St Paul International Airport on the first of December. There was a snowstorm that day with about 2 inches of slushy snow building up on the road. I was driving our Dodge Journey. Now the Journey has this new control system that is supposed to keep the car going down the road straight. (Traction Control System (TCS). The problem is that when one of the tires hits slush and slows down, the car tries to compensate. I have not figured out what it does exactly, but the result is the car starts sliding sideways. With my help, or in spite of it, the car came out of the slide and continued down the road.
I slowed down slightly and pushed the button that is supposed to turn off the traction control system (TCS). A few minutes later, I drove a little off of the narrow tracks left by the previous cars, and the slush sent me sliding again. I really wanted to slow down, so I applied the brakes. Now, dodge also has an antilock brake system that pulses to keep the brakes from locking up and making you slide more. This system might work well with wet roads, but on ice I do not believe there is enough friction to let the wheel spin again once it is stopped by this system. So… if you pump the brakes or slam on them, the tires lock and you sliiiiiide.
The Journey was pulsing from the antilock brakes, and we were sliding at an ever increasing angle. I was pumping the brakes and turning the front wheels into the slide. When the slide got to be greater than about 30 degrees, the car went from pulsing to convulsing, and the symbol that Dodge uses for the traction control system (TCS) started flashing on and off in rhythm with the convulsing. (I want to pause here to remind you that I had pushed the button to turn that feature off.)
I decided to not touch the brakes at all, and after a couple of seconds, the antilock brake system released the tires. At this point I must remind you that I had turned the wheel into the turn. So, as soon as the brakes released, the car started heading the way the tires were turned. I did not touch the brakes again and, just by turning the steering wheel back and forth, I was able to keep the car between the ditches. Now most people think that you have to “keep it between the lines,” but I was happy with between the ditches.
Fortunately, we knew there was supposed to be a storm, so we had left a couple of hours early. We got to the airport with time to spare, even though I did slow down after I had to use the whole road for a few hundred feet.
Basswood’s flight took him from Minneapolis/St Paul to Denver, where he had a three-hour layover and then flew to Cancun, where he arrived about six in the morning.
Back to the traction control system (TCS): is this only supposed to work if you close your eyes, throw up your hands, and scream? Or is it supposed to work with the driver?