A Travelogue

Sunday, March 08, 2009

"The weather sure is frightful. But the fire's so delightful."

We're back in Red Deer after unexpectedly, sort of, spending Saturday night (March 7)in Calgary.

Hans was scheduled to give his Camino presentation at 7:00 p.m. and we were slowly getting ready to leave around 1:00 p.m. But at 10:00 a.m. the wind started howling out here, driving the snow in horizontal sheets in front of my shocked eyes.

Earlier that morning when the weather was still nice, Hans went outside with the snowblower to clear a path through the drifts from the previous blow a couple of days ago.

We'd been trying to reach our kind neighbour to ask him to come by with his big tractor, but after 2 days of no luck (we found out he's holidaying in Mexico) Hans tackled it himself. But the snowblower conked out before he was finished and he ended up shovellng some of the drive. Our driveway is 400' long.

With the weather looking bad we decided we had better leave a little earlier. First we phoned our friend M, who's in Red Deer this weekend, to accept his previous offer of overnighting at his house in Calgary and pick up his key. Just in case.

In our haste to leave the house we forgot several things, none of which was really important. Except my deodorant. *sigh*. The rest we threw into a bag and headed into Red Deer where... the sun was shining. It was beautiful. And it remained beautiful all the way into Calgary and all day in Calgary. In fact, just as we left our little localized blizzard Hans emailed his contact in Calgary to say that we were on our way and he would be able to give his presentation as planned, unless of course the roads were so bad we had to turn back. I wonder what she thought when she got that email and looked out her window at the blue sky.

I was so embarrassed about our panicky call to M asking for his house key that I left a message on M's phone apologizing while at the same time trying to explain that it really was blizzarding out where we lived. Honest. They weren't even home when we picked up the key. It was so nice in Red Deer that they went out for a long walk with their dog.

So, key and code firmly in hand, we headed south and spent an enjoyable day in Calgary browsing around the shops with the extra time we had to kill. Had a very late lunch at 4:30, filled up the car (just in case, and thank god we did) and arrived at our venue at 6:30 p.m., right on time. And just as we stepped out of the car, the first snowflakes fell.

In the church basement we couldn't see much through the high, narrow window. But there was enough ambient light to see the snow increasing in intensity and dancing violently in the wind. The evening wrapped up at 9:30 p.m. and our car was already deeply covered in snow. We decided it would be prudent to use M's house key after all.

And thank god we did. I phoned M to let him know we were in his house and all was well. In his relief that we were okay, he told me where to find the scotch. Hah!

Turned out Red Deer had already received 6"-8" of snow and the system that had engulfed Red Deer was now delivering more of it to Calgary. While I was on the phone Hans already had the fireplace blazing and the t.v. on curling so we settled in for a warm and relaxing evening, just taking time out now and then to congratulate ourselves on having such an excellent backup plan. The living room couch with its lounge was so comfy, and the fire so relaxing, I decided to head down to bed and read before drifting off.

By the way, M's house is gorgeous. We've been there overnight a couple of times before but it was always after a party so I never noticed before .... there's a fireplace in the guest bedroom. And a t.v. Of course there is. So I flicked on the fire with the remote, turned the t.v. to something soothing, discovered a brilliant halogen light in the ceiling just above my head so I could read, and spent a pleasant hour snuggled under the eiderdown with my book. Occasionally I heard a groan from Hans upstairs when there was a particularly bad curling shot, but he was pretty happy with his scotch and his curling and not having to face a stressful drive home in the dark.

Leaving Calgary this morning around 10 a.m. the weather was again clear and sunny. In the city we didn't notice the wind and it was clear driving to Airdrie. But then the wind made its presence felt in a most unpleasant manner. Visibility at times was down to 10 metres. But in between it would clear up for a stretch as the wind gathered itself for another blow. Then we managed to tuck in about 200' behind a huge truck and let him lead us to Red Deer. Along the way I counted only 12 cars in the ditch - quite a few less than the 150 I counted some years ago during an April snowstorm. At least we were driving in daylight. I can't imagine what it would have been like last night in the dark. We would no doubt have been unlucky car number 13.

I'd forgotten how completely miserable, and incredibly long! the walk is in from the mouth of our driveway. And right into the biting teeth of the wind. Carrying stuff we couldn't leave in the car to freeze. Hans, as always, carries the biggest load and walks ahead to make knee deep footprints for me. But I'm short and don't always fit into his footsteps. And I'm more wimpy, and slower, and gasping for breath. God, I'd forgotten how really wretched that walk is. And then he couldn't get our door open with the code. The garage is locked too, and the remote is in the car. Not that that would help much but we'd be out of the wind. I know Hans would go back for the remote but I fish in my purse for my keys hoping I have a house key on it. We never use a key - always the code - and thank god, I do have a key. Just then Hans gets the door open and we stagger in. I'm so grateful to be out of the wind I want to weep but I can't. My throat is frozen from sucking the cold air.

Now, an hour later, we've both stopped coughing thanks to both the hot coffee and blazing fire. Life is good again. The weather sure is frightful, but the fire's so delightful.