My older daughter has a birthday this month. We don’t typically celebrate birthdays on the day, but kinda spread things out for at least a week. One of the things we like to do is have the birthday person choose where to order food from as a treat, and my daughter chose Pizza Hut. The closest one is in the smaller city, and of course, there is no such thing as delivery out here. The plan was to do that yesterday. With the high winds, we discussed postponing it, but in the end, I decided the drive would be okay. We did take our van instead of my mother’s car, though; for all its problems, my mother’s car is a fair weather vehicle, and while it has new all season tires, the van has good winter tires. When I got to the garage, though, I found that the winds had managed to blow open one of the doors to where my mother’s car is parked! That door had a tire on a rim leaning against it to hold it closed, and the tired had been knocked a couple of feet away!
My younger daughter came along with a birthday shopping list, so we left early for our scheduled pick up time. I figured we could stop at a grocery store along the way, making for less time for the food to get cold after picking it up. The drive is normally about 45 minutes, and we left about half an hour earlier than necessary.
Which turned out to be a wise decision.
The winds were coming from almost directly the south, so for the first leg of the trip, it was like driving into a wall, but except for one section on a curve, where the highway was running more east/west, the highway was clear. Then we reached the town my mother lives in, where we turn east on another highway.
My daughter tried to get a picture for me.
Don’t let this picture fool you. The camera on my phone cleans things up quite a lot. In reality, we could barely see the road. It was all white. Every now and then, we’d pass a shelterbelt around a farm house and the road would suddenly be clear for a short while, then back to blowing snow. It was actually quite mild out – just a few degrees below freezing – which meant the dark road surface on these clear spots got warm enough for the edges of snow to be melting. The van was being buffeted the whole way, and it was a fight for the entire stretch of road, until we reached another highway and were travelling south again. That highway was mostly clear, though some places were starting to have buildups of snow. The plows were out, at least.
After a while, we had to turn east again, and that section of road was even worse. In places, there was enough snow kicked up by the winds that it looked like a distant fog, half engulfing any stands of trees.
The last leg of the trip was a stretch of highway weaving south and east, so it was a mix of clear and covered. Once inside the city, the winds were blocked and there was no blowing snow at all! It was such slow going the entire way, we didn’t have time to stop at the grocery store first, and headed straight for our scheduled pick up. We made it just in time, too!
Once the hot food was picked up, my daughter and I stopped at the grocery store on the way out, and then it was time for the drive home.
Since emptying out the van, with the expectation of trading it in, we took out all our music CDs and still haven’t returned them, so we had the radio on a classical music station, instead. Normally, we don’t listen to radio, but this time, I’m glad we did. When the news and weather was on, there was a lot of talk about road conditions and road closures. Things were certainly a lot more severe, the further south things got, and the big city was being hit hard.
Considering what we drove into on the way home, that must have been really crazy! The winds had picked up, and were blowing even more snow, but it was the ice under it that really made things iffy. We were driving much, much slower and, at one point, the wind started blowing the van around, and we were fishtailing on the ice. Thankfully, there was no oncoming traffic, and I got the van under control again without being blown into the ditch. It was very touch and go for a while! This happened a couple more times along the way, but not as bad as that first one. If I had known it would be this bad on the east/west roads, we would have done this another day!
It took us quite a bit longer to get home than the drive out, as we had to drive so much slower. Once we were travelling north, conditions were much better and I was even able to drive highway speeds, while the wind was at our back. The only east/west road we drove that was good, was the last two miles of gravel road to our place!
Yes, the food was mostly cold by the time we got home, but that’s okay!
As the evening wore on, the road conditions worsened. Parts of the Trans Canada Highway were closed, as was the entire ring road around the bigger city, as well as the major east/west highways leading into the city, while many other roads and highways had travel advisories. People were told to stay home, and there were many reports of vehicles in ditches and other issues.
I’d seen forecasts showing that the winds would continue for several days, but this morning, there was no wind at all! While doing my rounds, there were a few things that had been blown around to pick up, and once the snow is going, there’s going to be a lot of fallen branches to clean up! The tarp covering the shed with a hole in its roof was flapping around a lot in the wind, and there are now friction tears, but it did hold. It’s unfortunate that we had not been able to secure the sides of the tarp, even if it was just in a few places, but it still handled the conditions far better than I feared, based on how much I saw the wind tearing at it.
When I got to the sun room to start my morning rounds by feeding the outside cats, I discovered the insulation covering the cracked window about the counter shelf had been pulled down, along with the boards and even a 5 gallon bucket that had been helping to hold it in place. Things are mild enough now that I just set the sheets aside. Other things were knocked about, and I soon realized why.
The outer door into the sun room had been blown closed!
So we had a bunch of cats trapped in the sun room over night, while others were trapped outside! There was still some food and water in the sun room but, outside, all the kibble trays were empty, and even the outside heated water bowl had somehow been knocked right out of the water bowl shelter, and was dangling upside down by its cord. We built that shelter with a board across the front specifically to prevent the bowls from being easily pushed out. It’s possible the bowl was knocked out by a deer, not the cats, considering the fresh tracks I could see in the snow!
The cats were very excited about my getting that door open again!
We’re supposed to have a nice warm day today, so hopefully the ice on the highways will melt away and dry off. Tomorrow, my daughter has her eye exam. It’s supposed to get a little bit chillier, and the winds are supposed to be back. Hopefully, not as bad as it was yesterday, but at least we’ll only have one short stretch of east/wet highway to be concerned about.
Spring may be on the way, but winter’s not done with us, yet!