Migration Home 2018 – Montgomery Bell State Park Tennessee

Montgomery Bell Map

Getting to Montgomery Bell State Park meant getting down off Fort Mountain and then taking the interstate to Nashville and then going west to Mpehis for about 35 miles. We were subjected to more rain and talks about snow storms and noreasters on the radio. Coming down off Fort Mountain made me very glad we had not tried to come up from the west. It was lots of steep grades down in low gear and frequent hitting the brakes. The intestate going north west was the same as any other instate and e pulled into our campground just in time for coffee. On an amusing note we also crossed the time zone from eastern to central and then everything switched to daylight savings. The net result was no change in time making for the easiest transition of a time zone and easiest spring forward I’ve had yet.


When we pulled into the campground the hosts were on duty and the very nice lady promised us the best spot in the campground on the creek. She wasn’t kidding! That particular spot was gorgeous. It was at the end of the row so e had no neighbour on the door side of our rig and a huge open space. Best of all was our spot was ringed by a lovely babbling brook of the most perfect size. We were serenaded by gurgling water or entire stay. We had one unpleasant surprise. Our kitchen GFI plug had died. This meant we had to cook, run computer, heaters and everything else off one other circuit and we soon found ourselves juggling things to prevent the break from throwing. Another surprise was a nice surprise, the park had internet. It was slow and unsteady but it worked well enough that I could do a good check of weather, get caught up on news from home and get some email off. It was too cold to do much more.

The park was full of local people with lots of big dogs and Misty had several walks where she got petted and admired and got to sniff noses with friendly dogs. Misty is not a huge dog but she is bigger than most so she was thrilled to meet a huge black Great Dane. He was a nice friendly dog and well behaved and returned Misty’s bow and play when a dignified sniffing. Sunday morning the park pretty much emptied and we waited while the forecast zone for winter weather dropped further and further south until we were in the edge of it.We fell asleep to brook and rain sounds. We woke up to a centimetre of wet snow underlaid with a sheet of ice.


The roof doesn’t leak when it’s not raining but there’s nothing like a heavy rain to reveal problems. Before bed we had to contend with water leaking in the big window by our dining area. It tool some figuring but it was soon apparent we had some small holes in our awning, the calking on the window was cracked, and there was something in one gutter. The net effect was a leaking window. I put the awning out partway and then dried the area thoroughly with a towel. I put a trip of duct tape over the window to last until morning. The rest would have to wait. By the time we got up an had breakfast the sun was shining and the snow was melting away. I was able to dry the area around the windframe and I dug out some calking and recalked it. One part of the leak repaired. We pulled out with water falling like a tap on full, dripping as went. We pulled into Walmart and got what we needed to repair the awning and purchased a new the plug for the kitchen. We were then off to our next destination, Reelfoot State Park in the far north western corner of Tennessee.


Migration Home 2018 – Fort Mountain State Park Georgia

Our next stop was Fort Mountain State Park in Georgia, Again, because of the very nice reserve system Georgia has we made reservations before leaving. It was spring break and Tallulah Gorge State Park was very busy and near full so we were concerned about having space. We needn’t have been. The drive to the park was completely different from the last two drives of unrelenting interstate. Instead we had a lovely visual delight going through rolling Appalachian foothills through farm country. The other business that seems to thrive in the area is antique shops. Every turn we saw an antique shop. If we had been the type to stop for antique and vintage shopping the trip could have lasted a whole week. The last stretch of highway into the state park itself was harrowing. We came in from the east so we took the easier less steep 18 miles route and a good thing we did. We had to stop three times to let the tranny cool and we had one stretch at “Pheasant Hill” of about a half a mile where it was so steep we had to do the 4 wheel drive in 1st gear to make it up. We made it by early afternoon and settled in for two nights.

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The feel of Fort Mountain was entirely different. Tallulah Gorge felt touristy and busy. It began when the ranger warned us they had been having some bear issues so be alert for hungry bears just awake from hibernation. Our campsite was very nice with a little creek curving around. There were laundry facilities that were 75 cents each for wash and dry so we took advantage of that to change a mound of dirty laundry for clean. Our fellow campers were mostly serious camper types. There were far less chidlren and a lot more folks with heavy duty hiking boots and higher quality campers. We didn’t see anyone with tents. The temperature had plunged to below freezing overnight and our propane furnace had to work hard to keep us warm. Strangely enough, this campground campground had some kind of fancy cable TV over air set up so we passed the cold with 50+ TV channels.

Fort Mountain is for hikers. It has several miles long trails and a few shorter ones. We took in the “Wall” trail. This trail goes up to a mysterious wall that is a remnant of a fortification of what the Cherokee call “The Moon People”. The Moon people were blond with blue eyes and present when the Cherokee arrived. The Cherokee and Creek went to war with them and killed them all. Exactly who the builders of this and several other similar fortifications and the reason for the buildings are unknown. The builders left no artifacts. My personal guess is northern Europeans made it into the area before the Cherokee and Creek and were the first indigenous people. They were then displaced and killed or integrated into the arriving tribes from Asia. That would explain some apparently European genes in the gene pool of North Americans even though the standard text book answer is everyone came over the Bering straight from Asia. Of course my guess is as good as anyone else’s as we will never really know. The black rock wall is certainly a place of mystery and a such is very interesting.

Misty had her own puppy mystery to cope with. Our previous dog Fred got very sick and almost died after a nasty bite from a cotton mouth in the south. Because of this, I used the small harmless prairie garter snakes in our home that migrate through in great numbers to train Misty to never touch a snake. Every time we saw a migrating snake I reacted with horror and shouted and pointed at saying “Off!” and “Bad!” and “Danger!” and the training seems to have stuck. The result of this has been that Misty is extremely suspicious of anything snakelike and barks in alarm at it to signal us a snake is present.


On the trail Misty spotted a small brown lizard and she jumped on it with her front paws. The lizard leaped away and Misty tried to bite it, catching it by the tail. The lizard spun around and bit her nose and then ran off leaving it’s tail behind that twitched and squirmed. Misty was not hurt just startled and totally bewildered. Apparently the lizard also tasted bad because she dropped the tail. The wiggling tail looked like a small snake and, horrified, she backed off and barked her snake alarm at it before circling wide to get away from it. I praised her for her discretion and I could see her puppy brain trying to process it. Small mouse-like thing became a small snake. Snakes are yucky. It was a good training experience and I’m glad the poor innocent lizard got away with only the loss of a tail it can regrow.

That evening the night was colder yet and ominously, snow was being predicted for Tennessee. Our next planned stop was Falls Creek State Park in Tennessee but we did not want to hit snow. After a check of the map we decided to skip that stop and go straight to the middle/west of Tennessee to Montgomery bBell State Park.

FortMountain Map

Migration Home 2018 – Tallulah Gorge State Park in Georgia

Our first migration home destination was Tallulah Gorge State Park in Georgia. This was spur of the moment stop. While I was hanging out at the KOA I did some random searches on sites to see in northern Georgia and I came across a blog describing the top seven places to see in Georgia. A quick check of the map showed the gorge (described as Georgia’s Grand Canyon) was very near our planned course so we went just a bit farther and little bit further north to take it in. The first part of the drive was harrowing in pouring rain and fog. We had to stay on the interstate for virtually all of the trip. I so hate interstates, especially in pouring rain with lots of construction. The rain stopped as we turned off hte interstate.

Tallulah Gorge State Park

We arrived safely at the Tallulah Gorge State Park in Georgia after another 45 minutes of driving down a pleasant country highway. It was a smooth ride in with minimal steep hills. The transmission temperature gauge didn’t budge from normal. The campground itself is highly variable in site type. We had reserved a 50ft site. I think about half the 24ft sites would have fit our 30ft trailer and truck if we unhitched. About a quarter of them were long enough we could have fit the whole rig in without unhitching. Some of the sites are very small, very tight or have extremely steep paths down to them. You cannot reserve a specific site. You can only reserve either a 50ft (green tag) or a 24ft campsite (red tag) and when you arrive you simply pullinot one of the appropriately coloured spaces and occupy it. The park is reportedly the most popular state park in Georgia so I recommend reserving one of the few 50ft campsites if you are over 24 ft or don’t want to unhitch.

When I checked before departure from Charlotte there were only two 50ft parking spaces so we made a reservation. We normally prefer not to make reservations because I prefer the flexibility of being able to change destinations on a whim. I also really resent having to pay a huge fee for the privilege of locking myself in, typically 48 hours in advance. The Georgia system is so sane and nice. One flat fee and you can make your reservation in the morning before you leave. This was especially nice for Tallulah Gorge State Park. The roads here are narrow and twisty. The campground is the first turn in on arrival. With reservations, you can just pull into the campground, pick your site, unhitch, and then drive down to the interpretive centre to register. This saves dragging the trailer down four more miles of narrow twisty driving. The rain quit just as we arrived.

Misty was being her usual confined-puppy-going-crazy self but Dick was exhausted from his business meeting and not up to a walk. So we compromised. I took Misty for a nice long walk on the south rim and Dick had a nap. The south rim walk was wonderful! It took Misty and I about an hour. We were able to walk from the campground to the bridge over the dam. The trail follows the rim edge and has several lovely look outs with fabulous views into the gorge. We walked to the end and back and it was just right for tiring out a puppy. We settled in for the evening with a tired out and therefore and well behaved pup.


The next day was cool but sunny and lovely. The three of us all walked the north rim trail. Again we were treated to stunning views at overlooks along the trails. The gorge is so lovely and the assorted waterfalls and rapids are a treat to the eye and ear. When we got back Misty was sufficiently worn out that we felt safe leaving her while we went back to do the interpretative centre and suspension bridge where dogs are not allowed. We drove to the interpretive centre which is about the centre of the north rim trail and close to the suspension bridge. The interpretive centre was well done and we were able to learn the history of the park, the natural geology of the area and we enjoyed seeing birds pictures to help us identify the birds we had been seeing.

The suspension bridge was a hoot. We had to go down over 1000 steps to the bridge on heavy open grill metal steps. The number of steps was 20-40 per stretch with small landings. Some of the landings had benches. Going down was fast and easy for me. Hubby dearest has a problem knee from a very bad break just below the knee that he did back in 1988. He was much slower than me. The suspension bridge was wide and well constructed and hardly swayed as we walked it. The sun was close to the rim of the gorge so we didn’t linger too long.


The way back was a lot harder. We would do one staircase at a slow pace until we reached a landing. At the landing we would pause and wait for our heart rates to drop to normal again. I can’t say it was all due to age since we saw many much younger people and children as well, who were equally tired out on the climb back up. One nice thing the happened was as we rested other people would stop and rest as well and we got to meet a lot of people from all over the country. It took a lot longer to go back up but it was a lot more fun. As we climbed up the gorge the sun kept pace so that as we reached the top, the sun had just begun to sink below the tree line. We returned to our truck and drove back in twilight. Tallulah Gorge State Park was a real treat and we loved it.

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Migration Home 2018 – 441 Georgia.

General Coffee State Park

We stopped at the General Coffee State Park the first night staying only one night. I regret that because the park had a very nice historical agricultural centre that would have been fun to see. We did get to see the short trail where tortoises live. It was still hot so we saw no tortoises but it was a neat walk. We were obviously tired from our time in Florida because we both went to sleep at 7:00 pm and slept through the night awakening at 7:00 am. A 12 our sleep is not that unusual for me but it is almost unheard of for hubby dearest to do that.


Standing beside a baby tree in General Coffee State Park. We’re on the tortoise trail. Misty, like most dogs, loves traveling.


General Coffee State Park had a lot of Spanish Moss. Just a bit further north on our trip and the moss vanished. We were now too far north for Spanish Moss. I was sad to say goodbye to the lovely stuff.



A perfect setting for a ghost story.

We had one misadventure. We stopped in for gas and out trailer made the usual clunk clunk as we did a tight turn. A man came up and told us he was a truck driver and he had detected something seriously wrong with our trailer because of the clunk clunk. We didn’t actually think there was a problem but we decided it was worth a check anyway.  I inspected the axles and the only I could see was a little thingie was missing where we had recently replaced the four shackle bolts. There was a truck/trailer place right nearby so we pulled in. A quick inspection and a replacement of the grease fitting and we were on our way, reassured. They charged us $10. If you are ever in Pearson Georgia and and need work done, be sure to check out Four C’s Tire LLC at 915 W Albany Ave, Pearson, GA 31642. They are very nice honest folks.


Following 441 north took us straight through farmland. 

From there we continued to Milledgeville where we visited with our friends and Dick’s colleague who is working on a book with him. That meant the morning working for Dick with Kalina Malyonov and then a social evening with her husband, Vlady, and I joining them. Kalina is a professor at the university in Milledgeville. They have the loveliest home. It was a real pleasure to get caught up again.

We then broke our own easy travel rules and drove 246 miles to Fort Mills to the KOA right near Charlotte North Carolina. KOAs are of a type and mostly okay but they tend to have small sites, tight crowded roads and very little space to walk a dog. The plus is they are clean, have standard good to excellent amenities and they are often near cities making them a good place to stay if you have business and don’t expect a true wilderness feel. The Fort Mill/Charlotte KOA was no exception. This KOA was undergoing renovations so it was not the nicest stay even for a KOA. The city has grown up around what was once a campground out in the country so all day long airplanes went by low overhead, sirens sounded, and traffic noise was endless. The trip to the KOA was almost entirely interstate and the closer we got to our destination the worse the traffic became. Dick then did his presentation while I stayed with Misty in the campground. Unfortunately, no great business deal was made but the visit was at least productive enough to mean progress and more work ahead for him further developing his idea. We departed Charlotte with relief and finally were able to really start our adventure. We were off to Tallulah Gorge State Park.


Migration Home 2018 – Leaving Florida


Kack Rudloe, Jane Brand Misty, Rita and me with Dick taking the picture after our last beach walk of 2018.

We had a lovely nearly three month stretch in Florida. The first week was warm like spring with temperatures reaching the 80s (27C) every afternoon. We arrived to discover that Bugula neritina was in full bloom and Gulf Specimen Marine Lab had an order for 1000 pounds so everyone was busy gathering the purple stuff. The temperatures dropped in time for Christmas and everyone disappeared for their holiday time with family. We were privileged to join the Skye Rudloe’s in laws, the Haberfields, for a lovely dinner. As the weeks went on, we regularly feasted on special southern coastal delicacies like the award winning hot fish dip made with mullet, grouper and sheep’s head fish, fresh veggies (especially jalapino peppers) and secret herbs that make a literally award winning combination.

The cold came and with it the great turtle rescue. Soon after that the great turtle release. I am very glad we were able to be a part of that. After that, the heat came back and and humidity. We were soon gasping every afternoon and sweating without blankets at night, praying for a cross breeze. The Floridians laughed at our discomfort over heat in the mere 80s. We had several days with very heavy rains and the humidity stayed near 100% for days at a time and everything in the trailer began developing a dank smell. My asthma flared and I was mildly wheezing constantly and living from antihistamine to antihistamine. The no-see-ums and deer ticks awoke with a vengeance and I spent time walking the corral and sprinkling poison on the rapidly sprouting fire ant hills. Every day we went to one of the local beaches to walk and enjoyed the sun and fresh air but the climate had shifted to uncomfortable. While I hated the thought of leaving my friends, I was beginning to really look forward to heading north.


Monsoon time in the corral looking at the guest house.

March 1 arrived and it was time to hitch up and begin our trip home. We decided to repeat last year’s nice trip. We would take the trip in our now favourite long and slow manner. This means trying to not do more than 200 miles in a day and staying two nights at each stop. Before we could start our trip we had to make a side trip to Charlotte NC where my husband had a meeting over a business venture. So our trip began by breaking our own rules. Business is business after all. And so, with no small amount of sadness and a bit of relief we rolled down the highway and headed north.


Keeping the Cat In and the Bugs Out ~ Those Really Stupid RV Doors. (Updated)

It seems that all travel trailers, fifth wheelers and many other recreational vehicles are equipped with these really poorly designed latches. I have yet to meet anyone who likes these stupid doors. Approached from the outside, the latches have a handle you need to pull down and then you need to pull the door out without putting any pressure on the latch. From the inside you need to recognize the long white thing has a square you push to one side and then you push the latch down. You have to push the door outward without exerting any strain on the latch. If you put strain on the pushing out or pulling in, either the latch itself will break or the black plastic face plate on the latch will crack and fall apart. Try explaining that to an exuberant grandchild. The only people who seem to benefit from this really poor design are the owners of RV shops where the replacement parts are sold for anywhere from $9 to $30 dollars depending on how much of a local monopoly the place has and how far from a big city they are.

And then there is my cat. It took him about a week to figure out how to work that sliding white latch cover to let himself out. He doesn’t worry about the latch, slide that cover over and you have a lovely cat sized door. He watched us intently every time we went in or out and then he just started playing with the door. I don’t think he’s all that clever, it’s just that being a cat, well what else has he got to do all day between cat naps? That sliding white latch cover when left open by departing cats and grandchildren also provides the perfect opening to let mosquitos, no-see-ums, wasps and other pests fly in. And so with some ingenuity, and a few kludges we have fixed it.


To prevent breakage of the cover on the black latch, my husband took a bit of leftover steel sheet metal and some heavy duty metal scissors and reinforced the latch cover. (He called that latch plate cover the Rudlatch since the first adult to break our door was none other than the late scientist naturalist and writer Anne Rudloe.) He added a small kitchen cupboard handle to grab and pull on which prevents the latch from being broken. It is situated exactly where the hand of grandchildren naturally grabs and pulls so the latch itself does not get broken off. To keep the cat in and grandchildren from leaving the white slide open so it lets in bugs, we use a small bungie cord. These small bungie cords are hard to find so stock up when you see them. Hubby dearest drilled a tiny hole to keep the bungie cord in place on the outer side after the cat figured out how to send the bungie cord flying before making a break for it. With the bungie cord in place, the inside latch cover can be slid over to reach the latch and exit but it automatically pops back into place without a reminder to grandchildren that will just be ignored anyway.


The bungie cord defeated the cat for a couple of years but he did eventually figure out how to open the door by throwing his weight against the bottom corner. The door is flexible enough it would pop open. The dogs soon figured out his trick would work for them too. After a few wild chases through the poison ivy, we developed the fourth modification. This was the installation of a wing nut on a bolt that can be turned to secure the door. It is placed in a spot where it is easy to reach in and spin it from the outside. The cat is getting old, and took him a couple more years to figure that one out. Once he learned how to spin the wing nut we added a second bungee cord. He seems to be able to either spin the wing nut or dislodge the second bungee cord but not both before we notice and chase him off.


And then there was the puppy. Our two older dogs crossed the bridge and we got a puppy. Misty is now nine months old and 70 pounds, she wasn’t about to let something as trivial as a wing nut or a bungee cord get between her and whatever she was excited about. If the door wouldn’t open, well who needs a screen anyway? So what if we were left with lots of no-see-ums and a puppy off chasing the neighbour’s chihuahua. I’m pretty sure the cat played a part in that plot but I haven’t figured out what except that he always bolted out after Misty. And so we had the next modification. We now have a new puppy proof lower grill on our travel trailer door. Misty shredded the old screen so we replaced it with a new one before mounting the grill. We used a metal grill designed for barbecues, pets cages and home security with two strips of trim and some bolts. Thanks Ace Hardware for helping us figure out how to do it.



The cat sign was a gift from our friends Joan and the late Ed Carriere and has some very fond memories.


The 1997 Blizzard of the Century

Blizzard that led to Flood of the Century started this day ...

I am installing a new solid state drive in my aging slow computer and in preparation I have been going through old archives and deleting stuff. I came across this piece I wrote back in April 1997, the year of the great flood of the Red River. Before the flood a huge blizzard, a monster Colorado Low broke all previous records for heavy snowfall and contributed greatly to the Flood of the Century. Grand Forks North Dakota flooded that year and then the downtown burned to the core and much of Fargo North Dakota was flooded as well. Winnipeg escaped flooding but it was perilously close. Here are my journal notes about the great blizzard of 1997.

The 1997 Blizzard of the Century

April 5th marked the beginning of the arrival of the blizzard of the century. By the time this one was over we had broken many of the old records. Most snowfall for a blizzard (43.8 cm of water in total equaling much more in terms of actual snowfall. ) Longest period of zero visibility at the Winnipeg International Airport (24.8 hours). Highest recorded wind velocity for a period with snowfall since 1965. Environment Canada warnings went out Friday and having lived through enough of these, when I heard the term “Colorado low” I knew we were in for it. When a “clipper” blizzard comes from Alberta it’s fast windy and over in a few hours. When one of those monster lows comes up from the US, well when Uncle Sam sneezes… as they say. On the way home I stopped off for extra milk and bread and checked my stock of Yarzeit and shabbot candles which can double very nicely for emergency heat in a power outage. I also made sure I had plenty of work to do bringing home stacks of books from the lab.

Normally we leave the car parked in the back alley but I put it into the garage. My eldest, Justin, 15 years old, passed me on the way. There’s a blizzard coming I shouted after him. Better dress warm or stay home. Yeah yeah, he replied.

The first forecasts were for the blizzard to hit Saturday morning. But a Colorado low is renowned for slow movement so we postponed a decision to skip shul until morning. We awoke to freezing rain which turned to tiny round pellets as we walked to shul. The wind was strong enough to make Main street (which is open to the bald prairie) a dangerous wind tunnel fit for astronaut training or jet engine testing. Walking up Main street against the ice pellets was out of the question so we took back alleys. It wasn’t cold though, so except for ice pellets in the face if we looked up, it was fine.

By the time we left shul the temperature had dropped and the cold cut through our warmest winter clothing. We watched the rain slowly turn to snow as the day progressed. By suppertime it was all snow and the freezing rain had stopped. Reports began coming in of highways being impassable. The R.C.M.P. were recommending no travel. Alan, twelve years old, had a sulking fit when we refused to drive him to his planned sleepover at his friend’s house. About then Justin called home. The buses have quit running. Could I drive over and pick him up? Alan started shouting in the background that if I can go and get Justin I can take him to Boris’ house. I laughed so hard at both of them that I almost dropped the telephone receiver.

We went to bed with the house creaking. Our home was built in 1939 and has survived floods, severe summer storms, and many winters. It had no trouble mastering the worst blizzard on record. I was comforted thinking of the original owner, a Jew who eventually moved to Israel, who had built this sturdy warm house for his family on lot 318. Would he be pleased to know it was sheltering another Jewish family almost fifty years later? Was it religious fervor, Zionism, or Winnipeg winters that drove him to make aliyah?

We woke up to an official state of emergency and a full scale blizzard. We are on a main road and our street is a designated ambulance route. The plows went by at least once an hour but they could hardly keep up. The snowbanks, which had been almost melted, were over a meter high by lunchtime. We saw ambulances, each one accompanied by it’s personal snowplow, pass by a couple of time. Police in their four wheel drives went by frequently too. The fallen snow was lifted from the ground to far above the rooftops with the swirling winds. About this time I realized I had miscalculated on one thing. I was out of cat food. I gave the three complaining felines tuna and rice. They didn’t mind the change.

At noon we heard that the hospitals were asking for more volunteers to move staff to and from their homes. They had enough drivers who had transported enough people that they did not need volunteers to work at the hospitals but those with 4x4s and time were asked to contact them. By 1:00 pm we heard that police had switched from their four wheel drives to their fleet of a dozen snowmobiles. Ambulances were having such trouble getting around that they were now being accompanied by a front end loader in addition to a snowplow. Response time was down from 5 minutes to fifteen, twenty if you lived on a back street. So far, all women in labor had made it to the hospital, though it was close in one case. Moms and babies were all doing fine.

The drift across our front yard reached two meters in height by 3:00 pm. The snow eased up a bit. Telephone calls to friends showed everyone was fine. Justin was still stuck at his friend’s house. Their mother had left her storm stocking until Saturday night and ended up not being able to get home. She stayed at her grown son’s house leaving my son and her two younger boys to make due alone. Justin reported he had been reduced to eating dry cereal. I suggested he come home. He replied he had no winter clothing with him and so it was too dangerous to walk in an 1950 windchill. I refrained from saying I told you so.

Just before supper Alan left to walk to our friends David and Hadass’ and help shovel them out. He was in his warmest things and we outlined his route in advance. Hadass called as soon as he was there safely. He had made good time, taking only twenty minutes to do it. I was worried about him the entire time he was gone but it was the worry of a mother who knows her kids can handle it but isn’t quite ready to handle it herself. He came home a few hours later utterly exhausted, ate a huge meal, and toppled into bed early. He slept 12 and a half hours but was so very proud of himself. His first day of being a man doing a man’s work. Just before he retired he said he had decided we were right about cancelling his sleep over. He liked his buddy Boris but not enough to spend 48 hours with him.

More news. The schools would be closed the next day. Weather records were falling and this was now the worst blizzard since 1965. The airport was closed, volunteers were still needed for the hospital staff. Taxis were nonexistent. More requests. Stalled vehicles were making it difficult for ambulances even with their escorts. Please stay inside. All highways in the province were reported closed and a mall in the western part of the city had been converted into an emergency shelter. Three reports of collapsed roofs due to snowfall and ice accumulation. So far, our electricity was fine but many people in rural areas were without power. Telephones were out too, in some of the tiny communities. For the first time in history the Winnipeg Free Press was not delivered.

Monday morning we awoke to calm. The blizzard was over. I lay in bed and noticed first that the creaking of the house was gone and second the sound of an airplane. After that I could hear the neighbour’s slow blower. I looked out our back window and the snow was so deep that the tops of cars I could see were level with the snow. There were a few suspicious mounds that were likely more than drifts if I remembered rightly from last night.

Canada geese had started arriving last week. As I looked out at the back alley turned to a farmer’s field there was a report on the radio about a huge flock spotted heading south again. We got dressed and went outside to shovel off our walk. The drift across was shoulder height. Another drift by the garage was halfway up the door and alley was waist deep with snow. Most of the snow was light and fluffy, easy to shovel, but there was a three centimeter layer of ice at the bottom of the new snow. Dick wrenched his wrist using a spade to dig out the back door enough to provide us with a fire escape if we needed it. We shovelled out the garage door and the path to the alley. The boundary between our garage pad and the back alley was up to Dick’s hips. What will that plow leave when it finally goes through? The roads were still impassable on all but the main routes.

I walked to the Safeway store to get some more milk and cat food. Drifts made even pedestrian travel hard. My ten year old daughter, Lana, went behind me in my footprints to keep from falling over. She was wearing old boots and mitts her brothers had outgrown. She forgot her winter things at school on Friday. She hoped out loud no one she knew would recognize her in her seriously fashion impaired state. She was dressed in a very uncool way, which in Winnipeg can often a matter of life or limb in winter. I used the opportunity to prod her about the changability of Canadian weather and the importance of assuming nothing, especially in April and October.

We passed two semi trailers parked in the Safeway parking lot. They had managed to get off the highway sometime during the night and parked at the first safe place they found. The store manager said the drivers were at the A&W across the street. A policeman in the store was telling stories about his adventures and the few shoppers there were gathered around to listen. He was picking up some milk and a loaf of bread on the way home from work in his 4×4. He told us the new police chief (a nonWinnipegger) had wanted to retire the fleet of four wheel drives and snowmobiles as being too great an expense to maintain. We all laughed at that one. He has changed his mind, the officer added with a chortle.

There is only one cashier and the manager but the number of customers is light and no one was getting more than a few things, since we are all walking, so the wait wasn’t too bad. The parking lot was empty except for the semis and the white and blue police 4X4. The entrance to the store is a parking lot of sleighs. Funny how much our plastic purple sleigh with the crack in it sitting among hardwood toboggans and the molded speedsters reminded me of our beat up old station wagon in the lot on a regular day.

On the walk home we passed a crew of eight First Nations men who were walking around looking for people to rescue. They stopped and freed a woman with a stuck van. We shared a few jokes as we passed them and the woman drove away shouting thanks before I watched them move on to the next vehicle.

My eldest stumbled in, cold and very hungry, about 2:00 pm. He vowed next time I say blizzard he will listen as he headed for the fridge. Milk he shouted with delight and polished off two liters in two long gulps. Does he look like he got frost bite he asked me? No I assured him after checking his ears. What a pain walking home in this weather in only a spring coat he said between gulps. Well you looked cool, I replied. He was not amused.

Alan walked to the video store to return an overdue video and rent a game. They didn’t charge us an overdue fee. Requests were still coming over the radio for drivers with four wheel drives for the hospitals. Now that the airport is open there were also plenty of newly arrived passengers who can’t get out of the airport so they need volunteers there as well. Twelve taxi drivers are on the street for the whole city.

A neighbour with a 4×4 stopped in to borrow our tow ropes and make sure we were all right. He was pulling people’s vehicles out of snowbanks and delivering groceries. We gently suggested the hospital or the airport but he just snorted with disbelief. He was too busy with neighbours, been going since 7:00 am and no end in site.

It’s evening now and the sound of snowplows is constant. The snow blowers have quit for the night. No sign of a plow for the back alley. I finished that paper I was working on. I got the upstairs bathroom cleaned. I even finally got that grungy build up off the toilet. My diet is blown for today because the kids made chocolate chip cookies and there is nothing so tempting as hot chocolate chip cookies when you’re snowed in. I must have eaten at least a dozen. All the laundry is actually washed, folded, and put away in one day. This is a record for me as great as the record of the worst blizzard in Winnipeg history. I watched the Sally Jessie Raphael show on TV. Tomorrow is supposed to be better but no school for the kids and since no parking is available at the university and we’re supposed to take the bus in, well I’m skipping class. Besides, tomorrow’s Sally looks great and I wouldn’t want the downstairs bathroom to feel I was playing favorites.