Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Forty-Seven: Arctic Adventurer

Blog post for 12/24

Bleh. I don’t want to blog tonite.

Oh, please don’t take it personally. It’s just that it’s midnight, and today has been a LONG day, and I know I’ll get very tired soon, and I’m 512 pages into the unabridged The Stand, and the unabridged The Stand has really started to get good, and I’d rather spend my last hour of coherent thought this evening reading instead of writing.

You know, I’ve almost never had the discipline to follow through with any long-term project before this blog. Next year, I’ll see if I can’t use this new-found ability for discipline to do something productive ;-)

Anyway, it’s Christmas Eve (technically Christmas, but I won’t count it until I’ve gone to bed and awaken) but it really, really doesn’t feel like it. You know all those Christmas movies where there’s this big snow storm and not all the family makes it on time to open presents Christmas morning? I’m actually in that story, and it’s kind of strange. See, this morning we wrapped up the Kansas portion of our Christmas holiday. It was really nice; I think everybody had a wonderful time. Our original plan had been to head south to Oklahoma around dinner time, but what was once a 30% chance for snow earlier this week had become a blizzard warning in south central Kansas, so we decided to hit the road right after lunch.

Well, it turns out that we were running away from one winter storm to run directly into the face of another, this one coming up from the south and hitting central Oklahoma with fury. We were informed that Oklahoma City had effectively been shut down, with every highway in the city closed and city officials urging people to stay wherever they were if they were indoors until tomorrow, whether they were at home, in the mall, at church, whatever. (There was also something about a 50-car pileup somewhere on I-40) We weren’t going quite as far as the City (“Ah, The City. My The City!”), but we didn’t know how far these treacherous conditions extended northward. We took I-35 south to Guthrie, and while visibility was not too great due to 20 mph winds (gusting at 60 mph) blowing about a blanket of snow that was simultaneously falling in huge flakes and wisping like a ghost in a fine powder across the road, there wasn’t much in the way of ice on the highway. Not, that is, until we got about 10 miles from our destination, when we saw a northbound van in the ditch, pitched completely on its side about twenty feet from the spot where tire tracks veered from the road into the snow on the ditch. A minute or two later, we found not one, but three errant cars resting comfortably in a ditch, all about fifteen feet from one another. Fortunately, this was two miles before our exit, and boy were we glad to be almost “in the clear.”

The smaller state highway had virtually disappeared underneath white, but I was able to see the edges of the road clear enough to stay on the pavement. Then, as we carefully made the turn from state highway onto gravel road, our luck finally ran out. We hit a snow drift and got stuck. Fortunately, I was manly enough to push the car out of the drift while Kim hit the gas (my back currently hurts, by the way, and I suspect this is the reason why). As I trotted up alongside the vehicle to hop back in, I discovered the road was completely encased in ice as I slid and slammed into the icy pavement. Didn’t hurt too much, though, because of the adrenaline from the snow drift, the drive, and the bitter, freezing wind. I got back in the car and, by the grace of God, we made it up the steep, snowed-over hill despite having virtually no control over the steering. (There was a terribly deep ditch on either side of the road, but the break between road and ditch had completely disappeared under snow drifts) Finally, the driveway to Kim’s grandfather’s house is in sight. We sloooooow down and manage to turn directly into the center of the driveway, and then we hit another drift. A bigger one. And there’s no pushing out of this one, either.

But praise God, we had made it. It’s a bit of hike up the driveway to the house, and the wind was getting stronger and colder each time I had to make the trip, but we made it. We had to bust out the tractor to try to plow enough snow out of the front of the car to get it the rest of the way up the drive, but it didn’t work. There are actually two cars currently stuck in the driveway and a third stuck next door at Kim’s aunt’s house. Two of my sisters-in-law are stuck in Oklahoma City, waiting for the roads to open up again, and my mother-and-father-in-law had to turn back and settle in Stillwater for the night, because the roads were simply impassible without the interstates open.

So, the annual Christmas Eve dinner lost a bit of its luster. We celebrated heartily with everyone who was able to make it, grateful that we’d all managed to get here safely, but of course it wasn’t the same. Tomorrow, this family’s tradition is to travel to a MASSIVE Christmas day celebration of more family members than I can keep track of (I seriously don’t know who all of those people are. Heck, Kim doesn’t know who all of those people are, and she’s been Christmassing with them for over twenty years!), but according to the weather man, we’re not going anywhere.

Anyway, I’ll still enjoy Christmas in whatever form we have it tomorrow. I know there won’t be any rush to get up early this year, and I’ll be glad for that, but missing out on the feast will be a little sad. Hopefully everybody else makes it here by tomorrow evening, and perhaps we’ll celebrate the fact that we can celebrate as a family with a little more meaning than usual. I dunno.

By the way, just for the record, this has been the worst snow storm Oklahoma has had in December in recorded history. And while we haven’t gotten foot upon foot of snow (we topped out at around one foot), I’ve never seen one storm shut down such a large city so completely. It’s eerie. At the same time, I’m glad my Oklahoma family and friends are accounted for, even if we/they can’t all be together as the 24th turns into the 25th.

First the hotel, now a blizzard. Crazy Christmas, no?