Yuppers, on a bit of a roll though still computer issues, downloading programs and updating this blog. uggg
Nanonano word count as of this post will be 6090 words ! ya. go me!
Blizzard on Hwy 402
NOTE: to proofreaders;
Kayla = speaks with an Irish brogue, so I be written the way it sounds, at least at first, so, soooo, her speaking is deliberately spekked and spokked phonetically.
Sudden Winter Storm
Pickup winter story on Highway 402
Dec. 22, 2013 – A steady dose of freezing rain across parts of Eastern Canada turned roads and sidewalks into skating rinks Sunday, cut power to hundreds of ..
The last big storm he remembered that was in 1998 Steve was now 19 yrs old and was heading off to Niagara Falls for a day and evening to watch the winter concert with lights at the falls. The six of them all squished into the car, Steve and his fairly new girlfriend Shannon his best buddy’s(buddies??) Kyle and Mike.
The drive was getting slower and truth be told somewhat scary as well. The large white fluffy flakes had started to fall just after a flash rain with the temperature dropping fast. Those cute and cuddly fluffy flakes had quickly changed to the smaller hard driving and blinding dense snow of a sudden early blizzard. Snow was piling up fast and the cars front bumper was acting more like a mini snowplow than a deflector. Fishtailing and flailing around in the blizzard was more than challenging, it was becoming dangerous and terrifying. Kyle was doing his best though even with the new winter tires it was harrowing, the car was just not built for Canadian winters, despite what all the ads on TV and the dealership said.
‘Pull over, pull over’
thought Steve as he sat in the back seat with both his girlfriend Shannon from Kyle’s school and Peggy Sue sitting to the right by the window. To her credit Kayla who was sitting in the middle front, with Mike riding the shotgun seat was not freaking out too much though her eyes were huge with concern. Steve thought Kyle was going to have some rather painful bruises on his legs though from where she was gripping so hard. This kind of snowfall and storm where new to her as this was her first winter here in Canada. Shannon who was sitting to his right was doing ok as all things go, though she was more of a city and mall kind of gal in all honesty. Although she was from Canada, she was still more or less dressed for going out to the mall than dressing for a winter excursion. Kayla on the other hand had kind of overdressed for the occasion. Her family in Ireland where all into outdoor sports, hiking and adventures so she was dressed more sensibly as well. Peggy Sue, sitting in the back beside Shannon, was more interested in keeping her eyes on Mike, who she had recently started dating.
‘Dating’, Steve thought, ‘not sure how I like the sound of that’, even though Mike was his best friend along with Kyle. Her clothing reflected their family interest in all things outdoor sports, hiking and camping. Peggy Sue did tend to get cold fairly fast so she had brought extra clothing in her knapsack, as a precaution.
As a large 4×4 went zipping by and almost side swiping their car, probably just to prove how good he was in his very large 4×4 versus their smaller two wheeled drive car, Steve met Kyle’s eyes in the mirror. Mike looked back to Steve then over to Kyle who was now white knuckling the steering wheel, in an attempt to keep them on the road and out of the ditch. None of them said a word; a quick glance was all that was needed since they had been fast friends ever since they had met at the shelter during the large power outage during the winter when they were kids. This longtime friendship made communication with each other uncanny during times of stress or activity.
Kayla who had let out a loud gasp and visibly flinched by the large 4×4’s performance of stupidity was starting to come unglued by it all. Both Steve and Peggy Sue started talking to try and calm her down. Steve letting his sister calm the Irish girl down while he, Kyle and Mike softly discussed their options. Mike who had the map book out was using his finger to mark where he thought they were now. Steve loudly whispered to Kyle to keep going thought slowly down the road, as both Mike and he thought that they were in a very long stretch in the middle of farmland with no interchanges or pullovers for another 15 kms or so with the last interchange on Hwy 402 was at least 10 kms behind them as well.
The three boys knew they were in trouble if the car became stuck, already 30 kms out of London they knew this would be big trouble. More and more cars were sliding off the highway as the snow deepened, this freak storm was catching them all by surprise. With a brief break in the blowing snow from a small copse of trees, they glimpsed a couple of police cars stuck or sitting in the middle of the road, stopping all traffic in both directions.
“Right here in the break from the trees is the best bet,” both Mike and Steve loudly whispered at the same time.
“Jinx you owe me a coke,” again at the same time to each other while Kyle growled out, “Quietly please, I need to concentrate here!”
Shannon who had been engrossed in her magazine, People or some such fashion rag piped up, “What why are we stopping here? Here in the middle of nowhere!”
“Shush now please while we figure out what we need to do and Kyle gets us safely to the side, ok,” whispered Steve to her.
Peggy Sue patted Shannon’s thigh in a bid to get her to talk with her and Kayla both quietly.
‘She is my sister, but she is ok,” thought Steve with a smile. However, his smile died down a bit as he noticed Mike beaming back at Peggy Sue. Kyle just grimaced as he brought the car to a halt on the side of the road. Putting his four way flashers on as he did so, the vehicle that had been keeping a reasonable distance away, also put their flashers on, pulling up about 5 meters behind them also off to the side. Other vehicles were struggling to get to the side with their flashes on as well, most understanding that keeping the left hand lane, the lane beside large natural median in the highway was important to them all. Everyone except another large 4×4, though that driver either was not paying enough attention to his front or he just could not slow down in time? The OPP officer jumped to his side closer to his cruiser as the four by, slid, slipped, then accelerated to the medium side, then quickly disappeared down into the deep snow there. To that drivers credit, they almost made it back up onto the road, but hit a deeper spot which caused them to come to a very quick halt.
Kyle, Mike and Steve all looked back down the roadway they had just travelled on to the other side, then in front of them. All traffic it seemed had come to a stop, with most vehicles pulled over to their prospective right hand lanes or a bit closer to the side of the highway. Every now and then, they would see another set of lights plow off the highway to the right or left, all either deep into the ditch or just hanging downwards on the slope. In front of them and off to the side, the OPP officers were letting the larger four wheel drive vehicles go by them if they were moving along at a slow and safe pace. Within another half an hour, even those were all stopped on the side of the road due to the accumulation of snow. This sudden winter storm, which had caught them up in this freak event, was putting an inordinate amount of snow down in a very short period of time all over the area. Southern Ontario was now snowed in all along the 402 and other highways from Toronto all the way past Niagara Falls, which had been their destination.
Sitting in their running vehicle with the four way flashers going both Kayla and Shannon, asked in almost unison “Should we walk down the highway?”
All the boys and Peggy Sue answered at the same time. “No, we are staying here”.
Again, like clockwork Kayla and Shannon, both a bit exasperated stated, “Why not!”
“Cause we will all die!” Exclaimed the boys and Peggy Sue, again at the same time.
This caused them all to start laughing as they all realized they were all saying the same words at the same time, together! This laughing actually helped to ease the tension away, making normal communication and thoughts much easier, so it was appreciated by all of them. As the chuckling was dying down, out from the front seat, “Jinx, you all owe me a Coke!” Was heard from a very smiley Kayla in her best and most proud Irish baroque! Well, that was the icing on the cake as they all lost it again, laughing, slapping each other on the backs, thighs, all high-fiving each other with big bright smiles.
Everybody was so caught up in the bouncing and giggle fest that they were all surprised at the quite and polite knock on the drivers’ window.
“Who is that?” Mike wondered aloud as he leaned over the dash to get a better look at who was knocking on the drivers’ window.
“Looks like the fellow from the vehicle behind us.” Stated both Steve and Kyle! This only caused bigger smiles as Kyle rolled down the window.
“Hey there, is everything good? Saw you guys bouncing around and wanted to make sure you were all OK!” he stated, looking concerned though with a small smile on his face to make them comfortable with his being there!
“Jinx, you both owe me another Coke, that is twwo frm ya knaaw.” Exclaimed Kayla in excitement, with an even stronger baroque this time! Smiling and chuckling, Steve answered for everyone.
“Ya, it’s all good. We were just talking, then laughing then we really started laughing there for a bit.” Chuckling, Steve stated with an even bigger smile.
“Yes, I can see that now.” Max hunkered down a bit, so he could address everyone in the car at the same time through the open windows. “Names Max. Since I know a bit of survival in and out of the bush including road travel, I was just making sure you were not gassing yourselves and had the windows down a bit, even in this mini blizzard!” As he spoke loud enough for everyone to hear in the car.
Kyle who had been content to listen so far asked, “What do you mean by gassing ourselves?”
Max pointed to the back of the vehicle, to the ever deepening snow and all around them while explaining.
“With the amount of snow coming down, the exhaust pipes will plug up or become covered in this all this white stuff. Then the exhaust has nowhere to go but up underneath the car, inside where you all are! That is one of the biggest hazards to your health. The build up of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide inside the closed vehicle due to everybody exhaling along with the vehicle exhaust. My suggestion is to make sure you have a couple windows down a touch on side away from the wind. The side that the trees are on and you keep making an opening occasionally for the exhaust pipe. It is a pain, though it will keep you safer in the short and long term. Good habits keep you alive.” he chuckled out softly while shaking some of the snow off his ball cap. Even in the short time he was out there talking with them, the snow had piled up on top of his head.
“Should we go and help out the OPP officer and the 4×4 pickup who went off the highway?” Asked Mike who had been quiet up to then.
Max, looking towards the stopped line of vehicles with the cop cars flashing red and white lights, then behind them, paused to contemplate his answer before giving his thoughts.
“No, not really. It is a bit of a walk, even from here and there are a few people already helping and the cop does not look impressed at all”. Pausing in thought, he then added; “honestly, when I lived in the mountains in B.C. near Whistler we saw this all the time. Every snowstorm, the yahoos in the Four By’s would zip on buy us with an attitude, then the first stop or turn they would be off into the bulrushes, demanding people help them!”
Another brief pause, then with a huff of breath. “Nope, let the wingnuts help themselves, or the cop will just tell him to wait and let the tow truck pull him out, plus give him a mighty big fine I think.
“Laughing now, Max looked them all in the eye. “Now, I just help polite people who drive properly without attitudes, only them!” Shaking more snow off with a combination of twisting and turning, Max looked them all over quickly, thoughts running through his head. Coming to a decision he offered, “I have spare blankets, food and water for you guys if you need. I think we will be here for a while now. This early storm caught everybody flat footed and if the snowplows even make it out of the yards by sundown it will be surprising.”
“What?” Exclaimed both Kayla and Shannon at the same time, Kayla with her distinctive voice and Shannon’s higher peeked as well!
The boys along with Peggy Sue, shared long looks with each other, which Max picked up on right away. He had noted the way they were all dressed in at a quick glance when he had first crouched down. Nodding to himself as he again assessed the situation along with how they were dressed, he smiled slightly thinking that these kids would be mostly fine. Sensible, polite and intelligent all, so he had more worries about the few other cars around them than these kids safety. Peggy Sue decided to speak up so the other girls would be more than likely to be calm after listening to her another female versus a male spoke up.
“We have some blankets in the trunk, along with some water and food as well. Maybe not enough for more than a day, though there are power bars, granola, fruit etc.. as we brought a picnic lunch with us as well as the standard emergency food for a group of four for two days. With there being six of us today, plus the picnic basket we should be fine.” She finished off with a big smile, so the girls would see her confidence and perhaps relax. “Also, the blankets and flashlights that the governments winter travel guide informed us to have that we got in the mail last year.”
Kyle, looking up and down the road decided to turn off his four way flashers as they were not needed, as there were no vehicles moving on the highway anymore added. “That winter safety guide is also in the trunk by the way. I think if I remember as well, it said to only run the car enough to keep it warmish inside, to turn it off after about ten minutes every half hour or on the hour depending on the conditions and temperatures outside.”
“You guys got it! Excellent.” Max nodded with a small grin. “If’n you need anything, pop on back to my vehicle do not be afraid of my big old Cane Coors dog, Zeldy, she is just a big softy.”
With that, he put his fingers to the brim of his hat with a showy Boy Scout salute then made his way back to his vehicle. They all turned and watch him walk back to his van. Soon they watched him let out his large brindle coloured dog and start clowning around with each other playing snowball fight with the dog as she ran around barking and carousing in the snow with obvious delight.
Steve and Kyle rolled up their windows, while Peggy Sue and Mike rolled theirs down a bit for the air circulation. Finally, Kayla asked, “is that normal, people coming up to check on you and offer help, in Canada?”
She mussed out loud while they watched people trying to dig their cars out or start walking over to the police officers. “Also, isn’t he bloody cold out there in this bleeding blizzard?” She suddenly blurted out while watching the dog run up and down the slope of the highway towards the trees, chasing a stick of all things, in a blizzard! Looking thoughtful including Shannon, they all nodded their heads yes, while they too watched the older fellow play with his dog on the side of the highway, in a blizzard, both seemed happy without a care in the world.
“Again, why the bloody hell isn’t he cold, look at them, standing out there playing in this, this howling wind and snow?” She questioned them, looking each of them in their eyes.
Shrugging, Peggy Sue replied, “You get used to the cold weather once you are out in it enough and accept it.”
Pausing, she added in, “When you accept that it is just cold out and forget about it, you will enjoy yourself much more during the winter here!”
Shannon and Kayla looked to each other skeptically at that statement, and then they turned to look out the windows again, both thinking about what they had seen and heard. A contemplative quite took over everybody as they looked out the windows, all lost in thought at that moment while watching others on the highway. Some were inside with their vehicles running, others were seen outside of their vehicles, some standing around looking lost, others were trying to dig their vehicles out though for what reason right now was curious. The crowd around the OPP Officers was growing with not a lot of folks looking happy or shaking their heads as the officers on both sides of the highway pointed around them while trying to make the others listen and understand. Only a few vehicles had been switched off, most of the others were kept running in an attempt to stay warm in the blizzard. The few who had managed to stop near the trees were soon clearly the few who turned off the engines to save fuel.
‘Wonder what they have to say about the weather,’ wondered Steve.
“Kyle, can you run the car for about 10-15 minutes and put on the radio so we can hear the news, please and thanks buddy.”
…‘Dec 22, 2013 CBC Ontario- A steady dose of freezing rain across parts of Eastern and South Central Ontario Canada turned roads and sidewalks into skating rinks this Sunday, with cut power to hundreds of .. h_mes…’… Fiddling with the dial, Kyle had just missed the radio station, or it had cut out, either way, the only thing coming out of the car radio speakers now, just sounded like snow. More snow, inside on the radio and outside all around their vehicles. With the vehicle running, Kyle played with the dial, snowy reception with some odd low words coming through every once in a while, emphasized the situation they were in right now.
“Eww, even my cell phone has no reception!” Hissed out Shannon with irritation. Giving up on her cell phone she happened to glance in the mirror. “Hey. What is that guy behind us doing now? Does he ever go into his vehicle or what?”
Everybody turned in their seats to witness the older fellow from the van behind them, now walking up and down the bank to the trees and back. First front of the van down the snow, then back up the bank to the back of his van. Each trip he went a little farther into the woods making a small circle inside the trees, then back to either the front or back of his van on his snowshoes. His dog, now wearing a red pack, which stood out remarkably in the white snow, was also making the short trip back and forth with him. Stopping, he opened the front passenger door, removed a small pack and a small plastic shovel, and then he headed back down to the trees. They watched him with some curiosity as he pulled out some small blue tarps and yellow rope. First, he put a blue tarp up on a smaller tree, securing it top, bottom then in the middle areas. Next he pulled the yellow rope tightly across and around some trees then secured it to another medium sized tree. Repeating this process again along about knee height, with the yellow rope. Walking back to tarp, he stretched it out quickly; tying off the far end to another medium sized tree, then went back attaching some smaller pieces of rope to the grommets. This made a blue windbreak inside the trees.
Next, they watched him enter a small area in front of the blue windbreak, tamp down the snow in and around some trees. He quickly set up an odd shaped little small room. Steve’s group of friends all watched in puzzlement trying to figure out just what he was doing. When he was done, he repeated the procedure about 3 metres away. This little windbreak or small room was a bit different as there was a small tree that fallen over which he encased in this little tarp room. Coming back out, they watched him look over what he had done, made some minor adjustments and tightening to his handiwork. In complete bafflement, everyone in the car watched him look back and forth at the two smaller rooms; then, he walked over and wrote something at the entrance to each of them with what looked like a magic marker.
Picking up the small plastic shovel, he then walked behind each of these <areas/shelters .. figure out which is better later> in his snowshoes, using the shovel to pile snow up around the base of them. This seemed to make them stop whipping in the wind more with each shovel of snow, becoming sturdy and stable.