Tuesday, December 23, 2008


It's only chilly here, not really cold like it is up north. Steven now, just the other day, wrote about how it was 25 below there. He was talking about Centigrade, not Fahrenheit. Still plenty cold! Frigid, even!!

Tammy, who lives in Idaho (Steven hails from Canada, by the way), wrote yesterday about how they had received 13" of the white stuff already with more falling ... 4-5 inches expected through the night with 40-50mph winds. Folks, that's a blizzard!

Her daughter Katie shot a video of the storm yesterday afternoon, and it's posted on her site (complete with sound effects). Brrrr!!!

I remember one time, when we were living 'way up there' in the frozen north, we were scheduled to fly out of Marquette, some 40+ miles away. We called the airport to make sure our flight was still scheduled. Why? Well, there was a blizzard going on, that's why!

The person who answered said, "Oh, we'll be taking off all right. Who's this?" When we identified ourselves, he then said, "You'll have to follow the snowplow up, eh?" (That's a UP-ism, the 'eh' - pronounced as in 'weigh'. Took me over twenty years to lose that!) We replied, "Yes." "We'll hold the plane for you," he told us.

You have to understand that this was in the late 1950's, and I'm talking small town here. I mean, small town!

So anyway, we 'crawled' directly behind the plow all the way. Couldn't have made it otherwise. The wind was howling from the north - directly off of Lake Superior - and that snow was drifting, drifting, drifting almost as soon as it was plowed.

When we finally made it to the airport, we were met at the gate by snowy figures carrying snowshoes for each of us to put on. No way could a car be driven inside! I don't remember having to carry our luggage. I think some sort of travois on a toboggan-type sled must have been provided.

We got out to the plane - a guide rope was strung so that none of us strayed, our luggage was loaded, and we climbed inside. It was nice and warm in there. Toasty warm! "You're the last ones," they said, and I thought, "Good! That means we'll take off shortly. I'm ready to get out of here!!"

But we didn't take off shortly. No, we just sat there, plane engines revving, nice and toasty warm, but not moving. I thought, "Well, the pilot's just waiting for a little clear space so he can see to take off." You could hardly see your hand in front of your face, it was that bad. Seriously!

As we continued to sit there, tho, I thought, "We're going to have to go back to Munising. We won't ever be able to take off in this weather!"

Then, all of a sudden, the door to the outside opened and this somewhat indistinct figure came in - blizzard coming into the cabin with it - bearing what looked like the bottom of a cardboard box filled with open containers of 'something' with steam rising from their tops.

First delivery was to the pilots. Next we each got one - it was either coffee or hot chocolate, I don't remember which. The figure went back outside, closed the door, and we took off. They weren't waiting for a 'little clear space'. No, no, they were just waiting for their hot beverage! Rrvit!!

[I hope you'll forgive me if I've told you that story before. I was pretty sure I had, but spent a lot of time trying to look up exactly where I might have done so and couldn't find it. It's far and away my favorite blizzard story. I have a lot of snow and cold weather stories, but I'll save those for another post - or two.]

Meanwhile, back here in Houston, we've already received our first snowfall - which made national news a couple of weeks or so ago, the first one in four years.

What happened four years ago really made history. We actually had a white Christmas! Galveston, I seem to recall, received their first snowfall ever and there were many pictures taken of residents and visitors alike outside in their thongs and shorts building snowmen and having snowball fights. I kid you not here.

What's happening right now? Well, it's raining. Nothing like Houston in January (except that it's still December) for yukky weather. Cloudy, windy, and rainy. Yuk! And it's supposed to continue like this all week.

At least snow is pretty! That is, until you have to shovel it, then shovel it some more, or have to first get out of your driveway and then try and get to wherever it is you need to go ... the airport, the store, wherever. Then your idea of what's pretty changes. I know. I've 'been there done that'.

Our biggest concern is ice. This might sound really strange to you, but it's the truth. In fact, in this post, published within the past two weeks, I wrote more than just a little bit about this problem.

My most toasty warm thoughts go out to all of you who are in the midst of winter already, although - officially - I think it has barely begun. Yikes!


Tammy said...

You had to get there in SNOWSHOES???? Wow, I am amazed they were able to take off in those conditions!

Seems like everywhere is being hit with extreme weather conditions right now... I'm planning on staying inside and WARM. :)

Craig Peihopa said...

Well it never snows here in Sydney and we are at the end of the first month of Summer and it is cool to cold, probably the mildest, even autumn weather, the weather patterns are all over the shop. But Hmmm, the snow sounds lovely, except for shoveling.

Goldenrod said...

Yes indeed, Tammy ... snowshoes!!

I get a kick out of you, Craig, with your 'snow sounds lovely' comment. When I was growing up there, our average annual snowfall was 200". What does that equate to in feet? Something over 16, do I have it right? That's a LOT of shoveling!!

We used to describe our weather as "9 months of winter and 3 months of rough sledding" ... not that dissimilar to your Cliff Young saying, "It rains 9 months of the year and then winter sets in."

How VERY special that you were able to see him actually run that race, Craig. That's a memory that will stay with you forever, eh what?

Chuck said...

Airlines don't provide such service anymore, I bet!

My UP experiences have all been during the summer and connected to backpacking trips -- Pictured Rocks out of your Munising, and twice on Isle Royale out of Copper Harbor (by way of your Houghton.) I can only imagine what winters were like in those locales. And yes, my post today was an attempt to warm up!

Goldenrod said...

My friend Jacky wrote about how her flight was held up one time for a Coke delivery. I've had that experience before - a flight being held up for a food delivery on the larger airlines, but this blizzard story is not quite the same.

Yes, it was personal service. And no, probably not provided anymore. Well, maybe in the real small towns, but there's so much air traffic now that controller problems might not allow for much of a variance. In those days, there was only one flight a day going out of Marquette.

Will do a post next month, probably, about snow in the Keweenaw and Munising. In many of the years since I've been gone, their winters have not been as severe, I've heard. This year might prove to be a 'back to the good old days' exception.