Flushed with our success at propagating our laser beacon the previous night, we were set to perform photometry on the sodium spot the next night. However, Fate had other things in mind and that night Apache Point received its first winter storm of the season. Not wanting to get stuck on the mountain the next day waiting for the snowplows to dig us out, we decided to try to beat the snow and head down the mountain that night when the first snow began to fall.
Of course, nothing is ever simple for our group and several miles from Apache Point we [E. Kibblewhite, J. Larkin, & M. Smutko] hit an icy patch of road and as the road turned left, we continued straight--off the road, past the guard rail, and sideways down a hill. The van rolled over at least twice before coming to rest against some trees. All of the windows except the windshield were smashed out and half of our equipment was strewn along the hillside.
Miraculosly, except for cuts and bruises, no one was hurt (we're a walking seatbelt ad!). We spent some time collecting our things and then set off for help. Fortunately, we had only walked a couple of miles when we were picked up by another car and driven back to Apache Point.
Needless to say, we're only bringing four wheel drive vehicles from now on... [Actually, we had orginally reserved a four wheel drive, but the people at Avis had lost the keys for it and gave us a minivan instead.] And if you happen to be from Avis, here's why the van didn't make it back:
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