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.