In January 1998 a devastating ice storm hit southern Quebec. My hometown was right in the middle of what they called the "black triangle".
I remember when the first power pylons began to fall down and break like they were made out of crystal. When you were close enough you could hear them crack like eggs. My Dad and I went on a short road trip to the next town to see all the damaged trees and power lines. The road was like a skating rink. Even though we were going only 5 mph, we were sliding dangerously towards the ditch. We talked about how lucky we were not to live in that town. The next day whoosh, power was gone! We just thought it would last a couple of hours. Yeah. Right.
I spent my birthday shivering in the basement. I had to wake up 3 times during the night to put wood in the fireplace in order not to freeze to death. We spent ~3 weeks without electricity in the middle of January. No hot water, no heater, no oven, no refrigerator (I know this sounds weird, but it was just a little too cold outside to keep food, unless you enjoy having frozen apples and bakeries for breakfast).
The roads were so icy, we couldn't even drive at night because the reflection of the headlights on the ice was blinding. It was as if a photographer took photographs with a flash in a mirror in front of us. The light seemed to come from everywhere. Since we couldn't see a darn thing it was also dangerous to drive or step over some power lines that still had some power.
I did some volunteer work at a shelter (my former high school) where I helped set up computers and data bases. People were coming in in big groups, some with pets and even exotic animals (snakes, iguanas). It was kind of fun and there was free hot meals and coffee for everyone. My parents had enough money to afford a generator -- and God only knows how much profit those companies made out of that storm. They jacked their prices by about 600%. We used it for 24 hours only (got the power back) and sold it for a quarter of what we originally paid!
Ah those good ol' memories!:-) When I was a child I always enjoyed when the power went out because it was a good excuse to use the fireplace. Sooo romantic right? But after that experience, let me tell you that fireplaces do not have the same significance for me:o)) I've been a couple of years without having any and I didn't miss it much. I now prefer campfires on a warm summer night... Much more romantic than being stuck with your next of kin in a stinky basement for 3 weeks:-)
But that was just the warm-up for the fun and games to follow. I was actually able to drive out of the field with little difficulty (thank goodness for 4-WD) and drove over to a flat area to make a phone call and summon assistance for the other trucks. It was a parking lot that had been plowed and then the ice storm had struck. I was planning on getting out of the truck to check the side of the vehicle, but when I stepped out on the surface of the parking lot -- it was... very darn slippery and I fell down, and smacked my head on something. I was a little stunned, it was cold and I found it impossible to stand up. Finally, I was able to grab onto the tire, and pull myself hand-over-hand to the mirror support and then gradually upright -- it was like a bad Grouch Marx routine.
The rest of the evening was OK -- but yeah, ice storms can be amazing.
Great story Mark, I guess we could on and on with our winter adventures!:o)) I know we're getting a little out of the topic (this thread started its life here -- but was moved as per the suggestion of Gen to this topic!), but it's so much fun to remind ourselves of those stories...Now that they're behind us and we can laugh at them!:-) Here's another one :Finally, I was able to grab onto the tire, and pull myself hand-over-hand to the mirror support and then gradually upright -- it was like a bad Grouch Marx routine.
The rest of the evening was OK -- but yeah, ice storms can be amazing.
About 8 years ago, I heard that there was an orthodox Russian community living near the VT border in a secluded area near Mansonville, Qc. They apparently built a gorgeous small orthodox church in the middle of nowhere. It was the middle of February when I heard about it. I decided to go check it out anyway.
I was going to have dinner with a friend in Sherbrooke and I had a couple of hours in front of me to get there. So I decided to go find the church. It was getting dark, but I managed the find the church and the monastery. Very impressive!
The narrow dirt road that was leading there was icy and covered with a thin layer of snow. The road was going a little bit further and I decided to check it out. There were absolutely no tire tracks anywhere. I should've known what was coming. On my way back to the church, there was a hill. It wasn't very steep but there was a sharp curve right in the middle of it, meaning : I couldn't speed up to make it to the top. The rear of my car got stuck in a pile of snow.
I got out of the car and fell down of my knees. The minute after I was laying down at about 50 feet of my car at the bottom of the hill. I only had some fancy boots on with high heels, no winter hat and no gloves!
In order to climb that hill back to my car, I had to take off my boots and walk in the snow by the side of the road, because even when there was a lot of snow, my boots would slide on the ice under it. I got back to my car and tried everything I could : shovel, traction aid, nothing would do. Each time I had to go from my trunk to the front seat, I had to grip the doors handles or the doors themselves.
Finally, I decided to try to get some help. I had no cell phone at the time and there's no signal whatsoever in that area anyway. I used traction aid to pull myself up to the top of the hill. On my way there, I didn't see any houses nearby, only that monastery. I prayed there was someone in there with a phone. It was getting very dark, the moon was rising and I couldn't help but thinking about those horror movies I saw as a teenager.
I knocked at the door and rang the bell (an actualt bell with a rope). Nothing. I heard something in the garage so I went in there. It was creepy. Boom, a big yellow cat jumped on the hood of a car. My heart was racing. No one in there.
So I got back on the road and tried to see if there was another place I could go to. I finally located something that looked like a house, although I couldn't see any front door. There was some light inside. The driveway hasn't been taken care of and there was about 2 feet of snow. I didn't mind. I stepped in there with my fancy boots and fine fabric pants and went around the house. I knocked on the door.
An old man with a long white beard stared at me through the window. Suddenly, I wished I never knocked on his door. That guy was a serial killer for sure or belonged to some kind of sect. Now let's hope he doesn't speak only Russian. He opened the door and I was so nervous I asked him in English "do you speak English". He said in French "no but I speak French". Whew, what a relief. I was a mess, my hair was wet, my mascara was leaking, my pants were covered with dirty snow, my hands were bleeding and my jacket had some questionable stains.
I explained the situation, he let me inside to call the towing. I met his lovely wife who was born in Paris. They had the most complete French books collection I have ever seen (not in number, but in diversity). I asked him about the community. He told me he was a "white father", meaning he was the only one who could be in contact with the rest of the world and who could get married, plus he provided me with a great deal of other informations about the religion itself. He invited me to come back and visit the church which I gladly did a few months after. It was a great privilege since the public (and especially women) is never allowed into that church.
When I got to my friend's house for dinner she was discouraged but not surprised. She just said "what were you thinking going to that place at dark in the middle of February?" I'm just curious I replied. Needless to say that ever since I always carry a hat, gloves, scarf and my cell phone with me when travelling during the winter.
Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 10-16-2006 at 10:10 AM. Reason: Navigation clarification
I figure that a good winter's drive is supposed to include getting stuck... at least once. Megan, my partner-in-crime, does not share this particular aspect of the roadtripping paradigm. Fortunately, she has only been with me when I managed to do something goofy about 100 times or so and gotten stuck. (Believe me, the actual number of such instances is a multiple of that 100...)
This photo is not all that uncommon a practice for me... Read more about what happened when we, like Gen's story above, chose a road we should have avoided!
For those unfamiliar - I live in Louisiana. It doesn't get very cold here, but when it does we almost always get an ice storm. In fact it's been since 12/31/00 since we last had snow.
Anyway - last February - I had a rehearsal in Marshall, TX for the Marshall Symphony Orchestra concert. Dead middle of tax season. So with weary mind and body I headed the 45 miles from downtown Shreveport to Marshall in dropping temperatures.
Being Northwest Louisiana/ Northeast Texas - it was also very humid. So while in the rehearsal the moisture in the air began to freeze onto all the cars and bridges. It had not been cold enough for a long enough period of time to freeze the land roads. But, as I've said before this is Louisiana - the land of bayous and East Texas -deep ravines.
I happened to call my parents during break and they told me about the storm. I finally convinced the conductor to let us out around 8:45 instead of 10:00. Usually I take US Highway 80 and then I-20 home. After much thought - I decided that 80 would be my best bet. I knew that it had many fewer bridges and would be less traveled than I-20.
Everything went fine until I hit Shreveport. I had kept to my stance of no brakes or accelerator on any bridges and had experienced nary a slip. Then I hit where Highway 80 becomes known as Greenwood Road in Shreveport. It's not a big bridge, but in the Ice Storm it looked huge. I coasted to the top of the bridge and saw wrecked cars all over the place, but off the road. Ok - I'm still doing fine.
Then - I notice two police cruisers at the bottom of the bridge. Blocking both lanes of traffic with their respective drivers standing at their sides looking at me with great amazement and shock.
So here I sm at the top of the bridge about to coast down it staring back at these two policemen. I start at the same moment praying to God that I don't kill thesm and at the same time uttering words that a good Catholic girl should not know. I manage to guide my car over the drunk bumps and into the breakdown lanes without hitting the wrecked cars or the policemen and stop. The two policemen in the mean time are waiving frantically at me with their flashlights and screaming at me to go around them (duh!!!). I got around them and their cars and breathed a sigh of relief.
I wound my way home through the streets of Shreveport giggling maddly at the radio reports that Shreveport has all of its salt trucks out (I never saw one --- ever --- and I hit every major roadway in the city in my attempts to avoid large bridges). I finally made it south of town to Keithville where I stopped at my parents house on the way home and was greeted at the door with a rather large and very welcome glass of brandy by my Dad. Gotta love dads!
I found out the next day at the performance that I was one of the few orchestra members that had managed to avoid hitting any guardrails on my way home.
Many close calls and drives through snow and ice, but never stuck. (Maybe it's the fact that I always put studded tires on my car during the winter months?) So I thought I would share a real fun thing to do on a snowy bridge.
Once when it snowed we decided to drive out to a good hill in the woods to sled. Along the way was a pristine bridge, not yet driven over. We were kinda out in the sticks with little traffic so no big surprise. Anyway....
We got out, made huge snowballs about 3-4 feet in diameter that took all four of us (me, husband, and two kids) to lift up high enough drop over the side of the bridge. I would guess it was about 200 feet to the river below.
The BOOM that went off when the snowball hit was amazing. We almost never made it to sledding because it was so much fun making those big snowballs and hearing them go BOOM!!
Just an idea for you to try sometime.
my own story - originally posted on:
Admittedly, snowy/icy weather does get me very nervous. In Nashville about two years ago, they had a bad ice storm. I was pulling out of my apartment complex - which was at the bottom of a hill - not realizing just how bad the ice was. The hill wasn't that bad really, but in ice - it changes it's dimensions totally. So, i have a rear wheel drive (didn't think to shift to a lower gear - if that would have helped) and started up the hill, didn't have enough power to make it (not sure if more power would have helped or isntead, sent me into a spin). As i started to get up the hill, i was getting nervous and pressed on the brakes to stop the car. And there i was, for 45 minutes, at the top of the hill (but not over it). I put the car in park (don't remember if i used the emergency brake or not) and couldn't take my foot off the brake because i'd slide down the hill. I called AAA - conditions were too bad for them to come out. The police came - they gave me a boost (as my car lost power) but couldn't help my "position" aside from to tell me to let off the brake and coast down the hill (AS IF!!! hehehe). So i did what any self-respecting person would do (or not), i "grannied" it down the hill, let off the brake a teeny bit, went back a teeny bit, let off the brake a teeny bit, went down the hill a teeny bit, ad infinitum until i was safely down the hill (i'm guessing that procedure is ~not~ what the officers had in mind - oops - ha!). Other cars did make it up the hill, so i have to think that my lack of experience caused me to be in that predicament (sp.?). So, needless to say, i'm very apprehensive of icy/snow - i just don't (admittedly) do well in it.
Mary Powell was one good looking girl. Not "runway model" beautiful, but just one of those girls who had a fresh-scrubbed, natural look, beautiful blue eyes, and a boatload of confidence and personality, which for a lot of guys adds up to irresistible!
It was a cold January afternoon in Boone, NC, in the winter of 1975. Boone sits in a valley within the Blue Ridge Mountains at about 3500' and is surrounded by mountains, including Howard's Knob, which range between 4500' and 5000'. Winters were colder then, so the result is we normally got 45-60" of snow each year, and lots of subfreezing to zero degree weather.
Anyway, back to Mary Powell. She agreed to take a Friday afternoon trip up Howard's Knob with me as an early start to our going over to the nearby burg of Blowing Rock, where the bars frequented by we Appalachian State University students were. Boone, you see, was at that point a dry town. It was single digit cold that afternoon and there were a few inches of fresh snow atop some hard-as-a-rock frozen slush, but I had my trusty 1967 International Harvester Scout 800 with a V8 engine and 4 big snow tires, so damn the torpedoes, we were headed up to take in the view from atop Howard's Knob. Impressing Mary Powell with my bad old truck, my foul weather driving prowess, and into taking leave of her senses and inhibitions had nothing to do with it. Honest.
The road was paved most of the way up but had switchbacks and was pretty steep in places. Most of the trip was in 1st and 2nd gear. We were bumping along, listening to Stephen Stills' "Manassas" in the 8 track, and I was enjoying just looking over at Mary, her long blonde hair draped over the standard 1970s ASU student "uniform" of a flannel shirt and down vest, and thinking about how hard I'd had to work to get in position for this little road trip. We had just gotten to the long stretch just before the last switchback, when it happened. That stretch of the road featured a good 200-300' drop, down a steep open meadow, on the driver's side and a shallow ditch and steep rock and clay embankment on Mary's side. The fresh snow was trackless and the old Scout started spinning--we'd broken traction.
Being pretty experienced at this, I knew to feather the throttle and try to get some "bite" back. The Scout was pretty powerful with the V8 engine and overpowering and breaking loose had happened before--many times. Off and back on the power, never on the brakes, I lost momentum such that I could not keep 2nd gear, so I quickly downshifted to 1st in the unsynchronized gearbox. Dang it, can't get a bite all the way through 1st, either, and now my forward momentum is down to nearly nothing.
Then nothing at all. The slow motion backwards, down the mountain, started gently, then picked up momentum quickly. I had a decision to make, and right on the spot: Was I going to go down the mountain out of control backwards, or was I going to go down the mountain out of control FORWARD? I chose forward and took both feet away from the pedals and cranked the wheel to the right. The truck sloughed to the right, the right rear tire went into the ditch, bumper against the clay embankment, and the front snapped around smartly and the whole truck popped out of the shallow ditch like a stunt driver had planned it all along.
Then, the Miracle of Howard's Knob took place. Once the truck stopped bouncing from the excursion through the ditch, I jammed the shifter into second and dumped the clutch. Bite, I got bite! She careened down the hill, albeit with decelerating traction, but broke loose again, so I shoved in the clutch, gently pumped the brakes a couple of times, and released the clutch a second time. Bite again! This time she held. I still had a good couple of hundred yards to go to the next switchback down, so now I had to slow down, a lot, while not breaking loose again. VERY gentle pumping of the brakes and an eventual downshift into 1st gear did the trick, and we crawled down to the switchback. The danger was over.
And so was my date with the beautiful Mary Powell. She was as ashen as any live person I've seen in my 52 years on Earth. Speechless, too. Seriously, she was so shook up she couldn't speak for a minute or two. When she was finally able to talk, her first words were "Take me back to my dorm". The second phrase had something to do with cancelling our planned dinner and evening at the bars.
The third comment was, however, the only music a defeated Road Warrior could have heard in solace: "How in the hell did you DO that?".
Mary Powell declined subsequent invites to go to Blowing Rock that winter. Call me in May, she said. The semester ended in late April. I think she just didn't want to go out with me.
Last edited by Foy; 11-26-2007 at 06:38 PM.
Let's hope this works. Y'all know my issues with pictures.
Anyway - Just to show everyone why Louisiana loses its mind everytime we get ice or snow. That picture is of the first snow fall in the Shreveport area in almost 8 years. And it was 80 the day before. I wish I had thought to take a picture (this is my Mom's). Snow was starting to settle on the blooming Bradford Pear tree in my yard, so I had snow flakes and white blossoms floating through the air.