Monday, March 14, 2011

North Dakota Road Conditions:

Yesterday, we arrived home from our anniversary/birthday celebration
(The Aussie turns 63 in a couple of weeks).

We fled Dakota winds for the snows of Montana in Glacier National Park,
where we spent five days reading the books we had set aside for the
journey, eating delicious mountain food and cross country skiing after
taking lessons from our favorite nordic ski instructor. Izaak Walton Inn
is located 610 miles west of us, accessible by a day's Amtrak journey.

To reach Amtrak we drove on clear prairie roads 40 miles to Stanley
where we parked for an additional hour because, true to form, Amtrak
was late.

Coming home, we were the only moving vehicle as we crept across the
moraine on an ice covered two lane maze of automobiles, pick up trucks
and oil semi-trucks swerved off the road into five and six foot snow

Fortunately, our train was 10 hours late (due to an Amtrak derailment of
19 grain cars the day before). Had the train been on schedule, we would
have arrived in Stanley at 9 pm and been driving blindly through 50 mph
winds in the blizzard of the century and probably joined others who
spent the night buried in snow drifts on the side of the road and in
some cases in the middle of the road.

Instead, at 6:30 the next morning, we thawed out the frozen
locks of ‘Black Betty’(our GMC 4-wheel drive pickup). By 7:15 the sun
was breaking the eastern horizon.

We plowed through a number of two or three foot snow drifts
that covered the entire road, detoured around two dozen vehicles
stuck either in the center of the road or in huge drifts on either side.
About five miles from home, we encountered a snow drift that was so
high that even sweet'Black Betty' could not negotiate.

Rather than turn back and take a second road (adding at least an hour
to our trip), Graham put on his work gloves, his green beanie, grabbed
the snow shovel that lives permanently in the back of the pick-up, and
attacked the drift.

Twenty minutes later, he climbed back behind the wheel,
threw off his gloves, and forced Betty to scream through what was
left of the passage in the middle of the drift. Stuck, we were
surrounded by five foot of snow on either side.

G-man once again attacked, snow shovel in hand. Another ten minutes
later, released from the drift’s frozen grasp, he climbed in the cab
once more and rocked the 4-wheel drive forward and in reverse until
we screamed through.

Here we are home again!!loving one another, happy to be alive and active.

The skiing gave us increased energy and sore muscles, but it was delicious. The
journey home from the train station still energizing our imaginations and our sense
of accomplishment.
I may have only been passenger and witness, but assuredly,
I feel powerful to have been