It's not easy to be a powder skier. I've been loving all the opportunity this season living in an almost true snow country locale. I've also been working on tightening my shit. First tracks at Whitetail may never happen, as first chair is proving pretty elusive enough. Among other things like work, powder comes with a lot of shoveling. For these past few storms, I've been shoveling the sidewalks every 4-6 inches or so to somewhat make it easier (and avoid the boro's fines). I've also been driving the car laps around the alley and the block to pack down the alley and bust out the ends so hopefully I can get the Suby out in the mornings. I only did one session of laps last night and noticed the new snow on top of the Saturday snow was a bit trickier in the alley.
A bonus of all this snow is that my work changes me to night shifts for these events, which frees me up for some daytime fun if I can get some sleep overnight. So it was like that that this day dawned with swirling flakes in the eyes and powder dreams on the mind. Kim and O wanted to stay home, so I was all solo and hit the road a little late around 8:30 or so. What follows is a pretty hard (and long) story to convey, and pretty freaking embarrassing too. Feel free to cast your stones, I can take it I know I became part of the problem.
All's good leaving Ch-burg heading west on Route 30 taking the safer route to Mercersburg, and then to WT. My normal route is a little too twisty and hilly so when it snows I take the more common route on bigger roads. So I take the left off 30 onto 416 and immediately am in whiteout conditions. I slow way down, and try to find some kind of road edge markers. I can see glimpses of asphalt and double-yellow line, but mostly I see nothing. For reference, this is the spot Brett had some fun in the Land Cruiser last Saturday on the way home. I come to a stop, windblown snow, no visibility at all. I can't see. I can't sit there exposed and unseen to other vehicles. I move forward and I think I get stuck off the right edge. Jerking the gears around gets me out quickly and I inch along some more. I'm going so slow and can't see shit, that I went off the right again and wasn't moving and didn't even realize it. Hop out, shovel a bit, and get moving along again. Can't see anything, creeping along. Then see a driveway and house on my right, so I parallel park right in front of this driveway and think about knocking on the door of the farmhouse. Instead I see a pole barn and head for that to get out of the wind and take stock. I spook a pack of leashed dogs in the pole barn and head for a small tool shed instead, dogs barking wildly and I can barely hear them.
I hang out in this shed for a while wondering what options I have, and will the wind ever stop so I can see to drive. I need to pee but don't want to leave yellow in this farmer's shed. Can't resist, and needn't have worried about a mark because I ended up peeing twice while I was in there, and the yellow was quickly covered up. It wasn't exactly an airtight shed. I hear the dogs start barking again and wonder if the farmer is out there. A few minutes later he walks past that open window and I yell out to him. I tell him what's up and it looks like he was trying to feed some animals and noticed this green car sitting in front of his house. He had an emergency to deal with right then and said he'd be back later. I asked if he needed some help and he told me to stay put. He said something about a broken window. About 20-30 minutes later I think I see someone at the back window of his house, so I go out to see if he needs help. It turned out to be just some cloth flapping in the breeze so I turned back and trudged through the drifts back to the shed. A few minutes later he comes to the shed and brings me into the house. I walk inside and see blowing snow all over the inside of his house, all over the piano, all over the furniture. I take off my gloves, hold out my hand, and say "pleased to meet you, I'm Larry". Greg makes his way to the couch, takes his shoes off, lays down, and grabs a blanket. Wife comes downstairs and tells Greg "...if he wants anything, tell him to help himself...". She went out to try to feed some animals after Greg had given up earlier. Greg turns on Fox News, and I settle in to a chair, for possibly, the rest of the day??? I stare at the photos of kids on their walls. Daughter went to the same high school Kim did. Daughter is now an international trade attorney living in New Zealand. The house I'm sitting in is a mess, kitchen, bathroom, windows, structure, and not from this storm. These folks have a lot more to deal with than fixing house on a daily basis.
I don't know how long I was in the house, maybe an hour or more? We see a plow go by toward Route 30. A few minutes later we see it come back by and I see that as my best chance to get out of there and head back to home (yea, eff skiing for this day, I have to work tonight...). I easily spin my car around and head back to 30 with decent enough visibility. I turn right onto 30 and the car stops suddenly. WTF??? I hop out and see I drove right into a drift I couldn't see, and I also see 2 Nat'l Guard Humvees, 2 state police cruisers, and several assorted trucks at the store on the corner. All but the Humvees are also stuck. I try to shovel out and immediately know this ain't working. Jump back in the car and just sit there, waiting for whatever help is coming for those other vehicles. I leave the engine running and crack a couple windows to ventilate. After a while a trooper and guardsman come over and tell me to go into the store so he can tell me the plan. I turn off the car, leave the flashers on, and head in. The store is packed with others stuck right there at this well-known windswept intersection. Three construction workers, 2 women, a UPS driver, several state police guys stuck in 2 cars, and about 6-7 other people. Most of them in Carhartts, none of them in fancy Patagonia ski pants.
The plan, was to get some heavy equipment there, plow this intersection and store parking lot, get some tow trucks there to yank our cars off the road, and then open the road up so that they can get out to Apple Way to rescue some women with kids stuck out west a few miles. A road grader and a quarry-sized front loader escorted the Humvees out to Apple Way to grab those people and take them to the St. Thomas Fire Hall. Somehow, these equipment managed to squeeze around our stuck cars w/o running them over as they sat getting more and more drifted in and more invisible. We were in the store about 50 yards away and most of the time could not even see the cars out there with the windblown snow. The Humvees need 2 trips to extract the people from Apple Way, and there are still plenty of others stuck out that way. Then the hummers come back for us in the store and take us to the fire hall. I don't volunteer for the first trip, still hoping for some better outcome. Thirty minutes or more later, the humvee and a fire truck come to pick up some more of the store dwellers. I also let this one pass, as I try to ride with the UPS guy in his 4-wd pickup since he's going all the way back to Ch-burg. Unfortunately, we couldn't get his truck turned around and unstuck either, so back inside we all go. About 3:30 a police SUV comes and grabs all the stranded troopers and takes them away, and with them, our communication. It's now about 4:00 and daylight fading fast, so I need to jump in the last humvee to leave the store. I go out to my car to grab my backpack and find my car full of blown snow. I forgot to shut the windows when the trooper pulled me inside. I tried to raise them, but the battery was dead (the flashers!). I bought some duct tape from the store and tried to tape the gap, but it was useless and didn't stick.
I get a ride in the hummer, actually all the way to Chambersburg since they were heading in for a shift-change. Jody picks me up, and gets me home on easy to drive roads. What a total difference just a few miles from where I was. No high winds in town, no drifting, no problems for Kim or Jody at all to get around. Kim drove to the pub in her tiny Honda Fit and came back with a couple sixes and we finished shoveling our sidewalk and the car chute.
So, I'm now home obviously, working overnight while my car still sits in the middle of Route 30 filling up with snow and getting buried deeper. I called the guy at the store around 8PM to see if anything had changed. One large truck got unstuck and left, but several others (including the UPS guy) were still in the store planning to spend the night there with the employees. He said the wind was still howling, even though there was no wind at all in Chambersburg (a theme we heard all day in the store).The store itself was cold and had lots of blown snow inside it as well, and the canopy over the gas pumps was tweaking and flexing like a kite and looked like it was gonna launch off. Glad I'm not there right now. I wonder what will happen with my subaru? Tune in tomorrow for the rest of my self-made mess. Hopefully nothing happens out there tonight since the road is still closed, other than my car filling up with more snow. Light, dry, powdery, windblown. Blower, I think skiers call it