I have spent 3 hours shoveling, another 15 minutes helping people shovel out cars, and too much time worrying about the plow coming through late at night and having a wall of frozen snow at the end of my driveway come morning.
I love Wisconsin.
I never thought this snow would be so bad. I was dealing with 3 1/2 foot drifts on the sidewalk. They were up to my gut. Up to gut snow mean that snowblowers are somewhat useless. You will need to do some shoveling to get the snow to a level that a snowblower can take it all out. When You have a smaller machine like I do, you are just about stuck shoveling anyways. The snow walls get too high for a small machine to throw the snow over.
My original plan was simple. Cut a path down the sidewalk so people could walk through. It may be the width of the shovel, maybe two, but it would be a path. From there I could widen it later on. So I went towards the garage first and made it to the alley. That probably took 20 minutes. I cut out some markers for the driveway so I would have an idea of how much I would have to clear to get my Rogue out. The best thing about a 2 car garage is having some extra space to put snow when absolutely needed.
Once I had cut a path to the alley, I went back to cut the path to the corner. I started battling the gut high drifts. Usually there is some relief but this was a good 15-20 yard path that I needed to get through. I could go about 5 minutes and clear about 4 feet before reassessing the situation and making sure my path was still on the sidewalk.
As I progressed towards the corner, I heard a snowblower behind me. The neighbor was pushing his was down the path I had created, widening it as he went. Relief!
Or so I thought.
Remember I said that the snow was too high for snowblowers? Well, he tried to get through the drifts but couldn't. He suggested I push through and cut a path for him. So I did.
I felt like I was holding a machete and thrashing my way through a deep jungle of vines. I was a mad man, tossing a couple feet of snow to my right, pushing forward, waist deep in snow, with a single goal of getting to the corner, moving enough snow out of my way so he could toss the rest to the street.
The snow wasn't as deep towards the corner and I barreled on through. I was tired when I made it to the other side. Thankfully a different neighbor had gone through the front sidewalk and cleared that. That side was maybe a foot and a half of snow. Interesting how the blizzard winds deposited its snow on one side.
Once he got through on the side, he redid the front of his house and pushed back down. I was way ahead of him, making my way back to knock down snow so he could make another swipe. It was just over an hour since I had gone outside. A big portion of my shoveling was done and I was quite grateful for the help from my neighbors.
After some rest and lunch, I was determined to guarantee some freedom. I was going to carve out my driveway. I also needed to uncover the steps to the front door. Round 2 was underway!
I decided to take care of the driveway first. Having the ability to get the Rogue out of the garage is important. It allows me to escape if necessary. Isn't that what we Americans do? Drive when when we want?
I hacked away at the snow in front of the garage. As I did, I noticed a problem that wasn't totally unexpected. I was going to run out of places to put the snow. I then decided to go with one of my other plans. Kinda like what happened earlier. I would shovel enough snow so I could use the snowblower on the rest of it. That way, I could throw the snow into the street where they hadn't plowed.
This worked out pretty well. It took some time of shoveling, blowing, shoveling, blowing but I was able to carve out enough towards the street that I could use as a template for later. I knew that when the plows came through that this work would pretty much be destroyed but it was necessary. I stopped short of clearing more knowing that my mortal enemy- the plow driver- would destroy my hard work
I moved on to the front steps. There was a shit ton of snow on the steps. Drifts that had me wondering where to start. So I stuck the shovel in until I found concrete. Every couple of minutes I could move up a step and get towards the door. As I did, I noticed a guy begin to dig his car out. I kept an eye on him as I wondered what the heck he was doing. At one point, he finally got into the car and started it up. Then he kept the windshield wipers going as they kept scraping at ice. I chucked as I kept throwing snow about.
The steps weren't that bad. But I could tell the snow was melting a bit and settling. Unlike the earlier shoveling where it was all fluff on top with a 4 inch crust on the sidewalk, the top has slightly melted and frozen making a crust on top that I had break through. Not a big problem, just interesting to me.
Once the front steps were done, I offered to help the guy get his car out. He was pretty much done and declined my offer. Hey, I tried. Sure I could have offered earlier but I had work to do and I wanted to be entertained. Instead I went inside to have a beer. The Flying Dog Double Pale Ale was calling my name.
I was able to get some work done and speak with a friend from work before the first plow went by. I studied his work and concluded that no action was required. Earlier I had seen two plows go down the front street. One was in the center of the road while the other was closer to the curb. This plow was going down the middle. Another pass was imminent. I waited about 10 minutes before he came by again before dealing with the carnage.
The area I had cleared was pretty much full of snow 4 feet high and 3 feet deep. I still believe that had I not cleaned it up earlier it would have been worse. But now I had a good idea of what needed to be done. I started hacking away and took up the previous strategy. Clear enough to either side and then use the snowblower to throw snow across the street to the unplowed area. I took some time but I got it all done. I even helped out the neighbor by knocking down snow at the end of the alley so he could throw that snow out.
Just when I thought I was all done, one of the tenants decided to get his car out. Being the good guy I am, I walked over and just started shoveling around his car and helped get it out of the snow. It was the least I could do. My neighbors helped me so I had to pass it along.
One of the great things about Milwaukee. In situation like this blizzard, neighbors get together and help each other out. Makes me happy to live here.