Monday, 22 December 2008

Tales of Snowmageddon

We're back at home through the rest of the week, although it seemed like a near thing last night.

The plan was that we would head down to Waterloo on Saturday, do a few (okay, a lot of) chores including going to the mall*, then attend Meeting for Worship Sunday morning. Dad and his partner Trevor would come up and join us for Meeting, then we would all go out for lunch, and the exchange of presents.

We headed down Saturday morning, and got most of our chores done. Then Dad called and said that he and Trevor weren't coming, on account of the weather. Hmph. Wimps; worrying about a little snow. We live in Canada, dudes.

After a little sulking, a new plan was formed. We would put off cleaning the halls at the apartment until after Meeting, then we would head back up home, which would let us get a head start on getting ready for the next phase of Christmas madness, assuming it didn't get cancelled due to weather.

At around 4:30 we duly started off towards the great north road (that would be Highway 6.) Everything was fine until we got past Elmira. Then the sun went down, and the wind began to blow across the open fields in earnest. We slowed down to a jerking crawl; there were spots where we couldn't see more than 10 feet, and we each peered intently to our side of the road to make sure we weren't driving off of it as we inched along. Fortunately there wasn't a lot of traffic, although we almost collided with a snowplow that had veered way over into the middle of the road at one point. We'd speed up for a couple hundred metres when the wind died down for a moment or there was some kind of wind-break along the side of the road that allowed us to see the road. When I say we'd speed up I mean we would get up to 40 or 50 kilometres an hour. The road was actually very clear at this point; the snow went whipping by so steadily that there was no opportunity for it to accumulate. It was all in the air.

As we approached Mount Forest, the visibility improved considerably, to our great relief. We were thus somewhat perplexed when we got to the north side of Mount Forest and found a sign declaring the road closed. After some debate, we decided to press on.

The road continued to be much better than it had been, and we made good time to Durham. Sure enough, there was another "Road Closed" sign on the north side of Durham. We stopped to chat with a couple of truckers who had pulled over then decided we would continue north, since their main worry was liability for the goods they carried. We also had no idea how long the road closure would last, or what we would do while it lasted. (We found out later that the local arena had been taking in weather refugees; we weren't aware of any hotels in either town and still hoped to get home anyway, however many hours that might take.)

North of Durham it finally became clear why the road was closed.

The wind continued as wild as it had been all along, but now the snow was starting to accumulate on the road. At first, it wasn't too bad, although as it got deeper, we got slower and slower. By the time we got to Dornoch we were starting to get seriously anxious. By the time we got to Williamsford, we were actually starting to think we should have stayed in Waterloo, or even Durham. We debated what to do as we drove through Williamsford (not a town, not really a village - more of a hamlet, although it did boast a variety store, and it was even still open) and continued on. But then the snow started to get really deep. We agreed to turn around, and we returned to the variety store. The storekeepers told us that there was a motel about 7 kilometres up the road, at Chatsworth. They didn't know of any B&B's any closer. They let us use their private washroom (whew) while we debated what to do. Meanwhile, another man joined us, who was also driving north and debating his options. We agreed to exchange cell phone numbers, and travel together to the motel in Chatsworth.

As we got into our cars to set off, a third car hurtled by heading north. We were impressed and a bit astonished at how fast they were going - it wasn't a big car, and clearly not the kind that would have 4 wheel drive. The good news was that it had plowed a path through the snow that we could follow. We followed.

About 3 or 4 kilometers up, we passed it, in the ditch. The other guy, in the lead car, went a little further, while we worried about stopping and helping versus not losing sight of the guy ahead. However, he just didn't want to stop in the middle of the road, and turned around at the next intersection. It wouldn't have mattered if it had been our intention to continue without stopping to help or not; it was also plain by then that the snow was too deep to go on. We went back to the stuck car, where the other driver took the three people in it into his minivan. We followed him back to Williamsford, where the variety store had now closed for the night. We pulled up in front of it, and prepared to be stuck there for a while.

I went over to chat with a man in the house opposite, who was plowing his walkway. He invited us in, and told us we could stay in his house until the road opened. I told him there was an awful lot of us, but that wasn't a problem - he invited us all in: me and my sweetie, the man with the van and his three children, and the three people from the stuck car. We all piled into his large kitchen, where we joined his adult children and their partners and children, who were also stuck there and unable to return to their homes after visiting.

Since we had been unable to give Dad his Christmas present, a selection of cheese and crackers and chocolates, we hauled it in from the car, and we all sat around eating cheese and crackers and our hosts supply of Christmas cupcakes and drinking coffee and yacking. We called the motel up the road, and discovered it was full anyway. The guy with the stuck car called a local mechanic buddy of his, and they went up and determined that the battery had been so clogged with snow that it was done for, and the mechanic promised to haul it away and fix it in the morning. The kids, after a few shy minutes, ran around and played together beautifully. We listened to the radio for weather reports and road closures, and the younger adults of the party texted friends. One of them had a friend who's father was on the snow-plowing crew, and so we got a little scuttlebutt that way. We flagged a little around 11:00, when we all started to feel like we were going to be there all night, and infinitely better though it was to have been taken in by our kindly host, we all longed to be home in our own beds. Finally, at around 11:30, we saw the beautiful lights of the snow-plow heading south. We were assured it would turn around and head north shortly, and about half an hour later so it did. We thanked our host, who was very nonchalant about having been press-ganged into having a passel of strangers take over his kitchen for 4 hours ("Happens all the time"), divided the travellers from the stuck car between us and headed for Owen Sound. Forty five minutes later we were home, our adventure over save for the digging-out (which has taken all day.)

And so, no recipe today!

*On the last Saturday before Christmas. What are we; nuts?


Marnie said...

That was heartwarming to read, although I'm sure you're glad the adventure is over. I'm about to set out for Owen Sound myself (from Toronto), but the weather has improved and anyway, I just let the Greyhound driver worry about the roads. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

da said...



Glad to hear you wound up safe and snug at home in the end. May the next few days be nice 'n peaceful!

Ferdzy said...

People can be awfully nice! It was an adventure, but I hope that next time we will opt to be a little more cautious.

Hope you have an uneventul trip up, Marnie, and Merry Christmas too.

Daniel, nice to hear from you! Hope you and Dan have good, peaceful holidays too!