Into the Storm

Northwoods Journal

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Another first for us — our first time of being here on a day in February!

Yesterday, whenever Mark came in from the race, he would complain about it being way too hot in the trailer – it was just over 70 degrees – so I turned the radiant heater in the kitchen down to medium and didn’t keep such a roaring fire in the wood burner.  The problem was that we forgot to turn the heat back up before we went to bed and the radiant heater in the hall has a timer that we forgot to reset.  This meant that at 1:30 a.m. I woke up freezing!  Thank goodness for the electric blanket!

I got up with the dogs and let Mark sleep in a little.  The inside temperature was 48 degrees!!!  Brrrr!  I tried messing with the wood burner but could not get it to light and since we were leaving early, I figured there was no point in lighting it just to let it go out again.  I turned on the little blower heater and that helped immensely.  It was just a smidgen above zero when I put out the bird food and that’s pretty much where the thermometer stayed until we left.

All the usual subjects arrived for breakfast — chickadees, blue jays, white-breasted nuthatch, red-breasted nuthatch, red-bellied woodpecker, downy woodpecker, and hairy woodpecker.  I didn’t even attempt bird photos.  I’m sorry, but 1 or 2 degrees was just a bit too cold to stand on the porch!  The black and gray squirrels showed up, too, and I did manage to crack the door open and take a couple photos of the black one but the gray one jumped back up into the trees.

Black squirrel having some breakfast.

Black squirrel having some breakfast.

Black morph squirrel.

Black morph squirrel.

No big breakfast today since we wanted to get packed up and on the road as quickly as possible, hoping to get ahead of the big blizzard.  Even so, it is a laborious process re-winterizing the place and with the cold temperatures, we weren’t moving all that fast.  Just before getting in the car, we took the dogs for a very short jog up the road.  Neither one of us was bundled up heavily, so it was honestly short!

We drove into snow before we even got to I75.  By time we reached Saginaw, it was coming down pretty good.  Mark opted to avoid the Zilwauke Bridge and instead detoured through downtown Saginaw on 675 – which was in pretty rough shape.  That’s where we saw our first accident of the drive.  North of Flint the traffic was at a standstill due to another accident.  Thankfully we were right at the exit to Clio and were able to get off and take a secondary road that parallels the expressway.  We’ve been doing this drive for so many years, we pretty much know every way to get around accidents, road construction, or traffic jams.  Mark felt a lot less stressed on the secondary roads, even though they weren’t plowed.  I guess he felt more in control of the situation without all the traffic.  (Even though there were still way too many people out and about for the conditions!)

South of Flint we got back on US23.  These photos – taken with my phone – show the road conditions just north of Brighton.  You can still see some of the road.

Driving into a blizzard.

Driving into a blizzard.

Winter driving 2015.

Winter driving 2015.

Twenty five miles later, the road conditions deteriorated rapidly.  We got off at the rest area just north of Ann Arbor.  As soon as we got out of the FJ, we heard the sirens and saw emergency vehicles going by.  We knew this did not bode well, as the S-Curve on 23 where 14 splits off is treacherous even in good weather.  By time we attempted to pull out of the rest area, traffic was at a standstill.  Again, these photos were taken with my phone so not the best quality, but it shows you that you can no longer see the road.  Also, there is a car in the ditch to the right.  This was just one of many cars off the road along this stretch but not the cause of the traffic jam.  When we finally got moving again, we saw the bad 4-car crash that had caused the back-up.

Traffic at a standstill.

Traffic at a standstill.

One of many cars in the ditch.

One of many cars in the ditch.

We got around the S-Curve without incident, but there were more vehicles off the road and another bad crash.  We needed to get gas so got off near Ypsilanti and Mark made the decision to avoid the highway for the rest of the trip.  From Ann Arbor to Milan it wasn’t bad, but getting from Milan to our house was tricky due to the Raisin River.  The road we took was basically a farm road with lots of curves and turns and had not been plowed.  Mark handled it like a champ and the FJ is really awesome in the snow – except for the fact that the wipers have a tendency to ice over.  He had to stop and put it in 4-Wheel Low at one point, which made handling even better but it meant going was slow. You can bet I was doing a lot of praying!!  We were both happy and relieved to finally reach our road and wonder of wonders, we were behind a snow plow for the last 10 miles!

I was also happy because I had gotten word along the way that our local school district had already closed for Monday, so knew I had a snow day to look forward to once I got home safe and sound! 🙂

It took 7 hours instead of the usual 4 to 4 1/2 to get home.  I’m so thankful to be blessed with an awesome neighbor with a tractor and he had plowed our driveway before we arrived, right up to our front door!!  He also came back again this morning and plowed again.  Here are some views of the snow. We got nearly a foot with lots of blowing and drifting.

From the back door.

Crisp, white snow!

Crisp, white snow!

A snowy view.

A snowy view.

Mark had to shovel a path and an area for the dogs because Ruby gave herself a tummy ache refusing to go in the deep snow!

And then from the front.  See the giant piles of snow from the plow?

Thank the Lord for a neighbor with a snow plow!

Thank the Lord for a neighbor with a snow plow!

Here’s Mark’s little car.

Snowed in.

Snowed in.

I was surprised he went to work this morning, but he drove the FJ.  Our road is in okay shape right now, but word has it that little else in the community has been plowed yet.  There’s a chance I could get another snow day tomorrow!

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12 Responses to Into the Storm

  1. Glad that you made it home last night safely! I really like the snow photos taken in the sunshine today, the ones of the traffic, not so much, they remind me of work. 😉

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  2. Ingrid says:

    Yikes, I don’t miss those road conditions. This summer will have us visiting the U.P. and Mackinac Island. It’s been years and I’m looking forward to the visit. Glad you made it home safe 🙂

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  3. tootlepedal says:

    Not conditions that I would like to be on the road in at all. Well done.

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    • Mark was a rock, he never got shook up at all the whole way. I’m so glad he has good driving skills. I would have been a mess if I had to drive in it. I am a granny behind the wheel if there is even an inch of snow on the road!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. rdg says:

    Hello Amy,

    This is my first time writing you. I’ve been following you for a while, ever since I read (somewhere?) that you got a new camera. I have EXACTLY the same camera. It was fun to see what you were doing with yours and how you’ve since taken all sorts of pretty wonderful pictures. I wanted to send you some of mine. I read with your last pix that sometimes, especially with the bluejay pix, that your camera wouldn’t hone in on the bird with a clear site…mine does that too and I am wondering why? I wonder if it is because the camera doesn’t ‘know’ which item I am closing in on–the bird or the branch? And, so, everything is just fuzzy–especially the bird! What do you think? I’ve also been experimenting with shooting on the TV or M setting and trying different shutter/f-stop settings (although I ALWAYS forget what they both do).

    Here are some of my pictures–I think you’ll be pleased with the nuthatch!

    In (bird) sisterhood,

    Ricki Grunberg

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    • Hi Ricki!
      Thanks for following my blog and taking time to comment, I appreciate it! That’s cool that we use the same camera. You may be interested in another bird blog I follow, she also uses the same camera. It is called Backyard Bird Nerd. Her photos are amazing and she shoots in M mode! I’m like you, I often forget which thing does what. For some reason I have a bit of a learning block when it comes to some of the fine points of photography and most of my “good” pictures are a bit of a fluke.
      Unfortunately, your photos didn’t post, but if you would like to e-mail them, you can send them to novelwriter@bex.net. I’m always interested in seeing another bird lover’s photos!

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  5. Bob Zeller says:

    I never minded driving in the snow. I always felt that I had an element of control. Not so when there is the black ice that we have here on occasion. Then I stay off the road and let them other idiots crash into one another.
    I remember the winter of 1949 when we had a huge blizzard. Muskegon got 40 inches overnight. My brother and I shoveled out paths that looked like the trenches from World War I.
    I loved this post, even though it made me feel cold just reading it. 🙂

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    • Oh my, I can hardly imagine 40 inches of snow!!! That would be incredible! I remember the Blizzard of 78, that is always the big story around here, but I think that was only 20-some inches of snow.

      I was telling my dad about our drive home and he was telling me about a time he worked in Port Clinton and had to drive back to Monroe in a bad snowstorm and it took him 8 hours. I’m thankful for men with steady driving skills!

      You are right about black ice – that stuff is treacherous! I cringe when I see news reports of multi-car piles ups on the highway from it. Scary stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Tiny says:

    Oh my! That was a hazardous drive. I’m happy you came home okay. It’s been almost 5 years since I had to drive in a blizzard…and I don’t miss it.

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