My Adventure in the Blizzard
I started off the day relatively well prepared for what I was going to face: Warm comfy socks, long underwear, big thick warm sweater, and winter hiking boots. A buddy of mine had a car accident a few days ago and needed some wheels. Carol and I had parked my Buick Regal in the backyard to save on insurance costs while she was on maternity leave. I made arrangements to put my car to good use by giving it to my buddy until he could work things out.
My buddy and I braved the city streets to pick up car insurance and other stuff. We started digging out the car. It was already under a mountain of snow. Adding Saskatoon’s worst blizzard in a generation made it even trickier. It took some digging, and some tire inflating but eventually the mighty chevy was back on the road again.
I set out to have lunch with some friends across town. I headed up to circle drive and took what turned out to be the freeway to no-mans land. Heading east I ran in to the full force of the blizzard reducing visibility to 5 or 10 metres depending on the gust. The cars formed a slow moving line as we just followed each others blinking hazard lights. Eventually we stopped behind a police car. We waited, and waited, and waited. I used my cell phone to call my wife and keep her updated. Sometimes it took a few tries to get through but the system worked. I zipped up and got out side the car to see what lie ahead. A semi had got stuck and the tow truck that had came to get him out was stuck too. If we had tried earlier there would have been enough room to get around both but at that time the snow was too deep. The drifts began to pile up around us. After a few hours I was starting to feel some urgent pressure in the bladder region. Thankfully we hadn’t cleaned up the car from our last trip to edmonton. Note to kids: don’t drink the gatorade in the backseat! When I got hungry I started thinking that it might be time to hike out to the big box mall at Preston Crossing. Thankfully the wind was behind me.
The kind folks at Burger King stayed open to feed the stranded. While I’m not usually a fan of Burger King I was really happy to have their service. I was offered a ride out by some other people in BK that had an SUV. I declined and headed to Canadian tire to gear up and go back and help the 20 or so people still stuck on the freeway. After buying some heavy mitts and a ski-mask I headed out. It was dark and I was walking straight in to the wind. I wasn’t going to make it like that. So I headed back to Canadian Tire and picked up ski goggles and a big flashlight. That did the trick.
I made it back and went to each car informing them that their was very little chance someone would clear the road ahead of us. I went to the back of line and helped each vehicle turn around and head back the way they came. The vehicles couldn’t do this on their own because they couldn’t see behind them. With me and the big flashlight they could turn around without hitting anything. I got a lot of people turned around. Once I helped all the people I could I headed back to BK. I found my socks were very wet and my feet were cold. I headed over to Mark’s Work Warehouse but they were closed. My next option was Old Navy. They still had some stranded people and they were kind enough to give me socks as their tills were down for the night.
I headed back to BK to hangout with some new friends with my new socks. They gave me some food and we played monopoly as we waited for the storm and the streets to clear. After landing on “Boardwalk” with a hotel I gave up. The storm had lightened up considerably. I went on another expedition to see if I could drive out. This time I was very careful not to get this set of socks wet. Between the snow drifts and the abandoned cars there was no way out. I scouted out other options and returned to BK. I found that the west bound lane of Attridge Drive was relatively free of snow. I told my new friends at BK and half of us ventured out east bound in the west bound lane. Once we made it out we called back to BK to tell everyone the way was clear and they could get out.
A few things I learned
- Ski goggles are great. I’ve never used them before. They really helped me see in the wind and snow.
- SUVs sometimes make people overconfident, really overconfident.
- There are great people who know how to help others.
- Always pack emergency gear in your car in case you are stranded. You may not always be able to hike to a Canadian Tire.
- Make sure your gas tank is at least half full in a storm or severe cold. Some people ran out.
- High heels don’t work that well in a blizzard.
My many thanks to the staff at Burger King and Old Navy. You people are great.
I think I will always remember the storm of 07.