Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sloche and Donuts

The above screen-cap was the radar image on Tuesday, December 18th at 6:40 AM, for the record.  Just looking at it on the laptop that morning, I knew I'd be in for a wild commute to work.

"Sloche" is a popular Quebecois drink that is essentially a Slush Puppy branded under a different name for the primarily French market here in Quebec.  One of their most popular flavours is "Winchire Wacheur", a crazy blue frozen concoction that resembles its namesake, windshield washer fluid.   To say we're obsessed with slush is an understatement.  When we're not driving or walking through it in winter, we're drinking it in summer, in a toxic blue shade made to resemble windshield washer fluid, no less.

It had been snowing for the better part of the night already, and the forecast called for a snowy day ahead with about 20 cms or nearly 8" of white crap falling.  Like the Inuit, who apparently have a dozen different words for snow, we also call this kind of snow "heart attack snow", because shoveling it could cause a coronary, it's that heavy.  It was hovering just around the freezing mark, yet we'd rather see heart-attack snow falling than having to deal with freezing rain. 

Just as I had suspected, the roads were a horrendous mess as I made my way to work.  I decided to take the back roads because that route provides me with more options than the highway, and what normally takes exactly 22 minutes (why, yes, I do have it down to an exact science), my drive took well over an hour that morning.  Since I have a new (albeit used) car with nice Toyo winter tires, the empty parking of the post office proved too tempting to resist as I threw the last of my Christmas cards into the mailbox.  I tried out a few defensive driving manoeuvers by making a few donuts in the parking lot and finding the sweet spot the ABS decides it wants to kick in at.  It's always a good idea to know what your car can - and more importantly - cannot do in crappy weather and on crappy roads, both of which we have in spades.  Might as well try things out in an empty, slippery parking lot rather than experience them first-hand by careening into someone, or driving into a snow bank.

That out of the way, I needed to take one long detour because a school bus managed to strand itself on a hill, and finally, back on my regularly scheduled road, I came across yet another school bus who also managed to get stuck:
Having spent what seems like a quarter of my childhood on a school bus, I'm eternally grateful I have my own set of wheels.  And the above photo proves my point.  Snow plow?  What snow plow?  And sanding trucks?  No sanding trucks here, either.  For the record, this road is normally well-maintained, even during the worst weather which is why it's my route of choice when it snows.

When I finally made it into work, the power went off within a half an hour, and only came back on again 3 hours later.  We're no fools though, and called around town to find a restaurant that had power and a liquor license, just to make sure all of our bases were covered.  We were settled in and toasting each other happy holidays, all before 11 o'clock in the morning.  Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do.
I captured a shot of this black squirrel making his way along the snow-packed hydro lines.  He was bounding along on top of the snow, and it was hilarious to watch him go back and forth in leaps and bounds.  I actually think he might have scared himself more than a few times.
There were huge pine branches down all over the place, snapped off by the heavy snow, and the lights flickered off and on all afternoon.

Driving home that night, this is how the road to our house looked:
By the accumulation of snow, no plow had been by here in a good long while.  And if you're wondering what that crap is on my windshield, why, it's the snow that formed a near-glacier on the roof of my car that I could not remove for the life of me, but finally slid forward as I stopped on an incline.  It's a typical occurrence during winter, and the reason I keep spare wipers in the car.  I passed so many people stuck in the snow banks at the end of their driveways that I almost dreaded coming home, but our snow removal contractor had come by already so at least the last 150 feet of my commute was OK.  He's getting an extra-big batch of cookies from me this Christmas. 

And those huge light standards on the new Highway 30?  Someone knocked one down during the storm, and the light standard managed to fall across all 4 lanes of traffic, effectively closing the highway in both directions for several hours.  You think maybe they really ARE too high?  That said and done, Eric took the new highway and bridge to the south shore right after the worst of the snow fell.  He said the off-and-on ramps were sheer ice, which proves my point that snow removal crews were caught off-guard.  His destination normally takes 1.5 hours, and using the new highway, it took 45 minutes.  One day, we might get it together in this infernal province...

Any day now, Environment Canada can take down the dire green tag on their website that says, "Chance of a Green Christmas?"


It'll be a white Christmas, after all.  Slush and donuts included.

12 comments:

Ron said...

Ha ha haha ha! You have a great sense of humor, Shim.

Those roads look real familiar... I commuted 35 miles each way to work for a decade in Minnesota, through farmland, where plows and salt were few and far between.

That bus reminded me of one time in Minneapolis when I was waiting for a bus, and it got stuck at the bus stop. Fortunately, there was a whole group of us, and we all got out and pushed it. I never would have imagined a bus could be pushed out of a snow drift.

It might be white here, too. It's going to be a heck of a lot colder tomorrow with rain, supposed to turn to snow. Better than ice, for sure.

Miriam said...

Here on Vancouver Island we specialize in heart-attack snow. I think I've only seen fluffy snow here once - the rest of the time it's heavy, wet snow that drips a steady stream of water when you try to make a snowball. And instantly turns to ice when you drive on it. Yuck.

How funny about that light standard. Well, not funny to anyone who was inconvenienced. But funny as in isn't-progress-wonderful kind of funny...

Shim Farm said...

Oh yeah, ice is a disaster. Having experienced the great ice-storm of 1998 first-hand and the ensuing damage, I'll take the white stuff over ice any day. I complain about both though LOL.

I can just imagine your Minnesota commute. I swear, I'm so happy I have only 2 days where I need to be in the office at a set time, and the rest of the week is flex. As it is, with our traffic grid-lock in and around the Montreal area, I'm also happy that I'm driving against the flow of traffic and not with it. Traffic literally makes me sick to my stomach.

I suppose a white Christmas might be a nice idea, but I hope if you do get any snow, it melts in a few days. And no ice - you might end up making firewood for much longer than you imagined.

Shim Farm said...

Hi Miriam, I've seen a lot of snow on Van Isle, so I know whereof you speak. The snow we had yesterday is exactly what you have on the island. Thankfully, we normally have the fluffier kind (LOL, I wonder how many adjectives I can find?)

All joking about the new highway aside, it really is an amazing piece of roadwork and hopefully will ease a lot of the traffic around the island of Montreal. But I have to admit I laughed when I heard the traffic report that morning...

WeldrBrat said...

Wow! What a WONDERFUL Boss! LOL Perfect ' Flexibility ' policy for a job. Find the nearest joint selling food AND the booze. It's 5 O'clock SOMEWHERE! I'm jealous!

Ron said...

Well, we got about 5 snowflakes. I guess that's enough. I got my winter fix now.

Those roads are bad enough to drive on without traffic involved. It's good that you don't have to drive it every day.

Shim Farm said...

Hi Weldrbrat, yeah, the pay is so-so but the conditions are great. We even got Christmas bonuses - whoohoo! It's a nice place to work.

Shim Farm said...

Hi Ron, we were supposed to have upwards of 12" of snow yesterday, but we lucked out with just a sprinkling - and then it started to rain. So now, everything outside has a nice post-glacial tinge to it.

I sent our big 20 lb. formerly-feral BobCat outside this morning. He needed a shove in the butt to get out the door, and when he finally made it down to the slate walkway, he dug his claws in and decided he wanted to come back inside. The wind caught him, and he was simply pushed down the walk, his claws leaving long white marks on the ice LOL.

And that's what's in the forecast for today. More blowing snow (seriously, it's horizontal snow) with much colder temps going down to about 7F. That practically flash-freezes the slush and makes for some interesting conditions, primarily on sidewalks, driveways and parking lots. The roads are OK now, but blowing snow leads to black ice, as you probably remember from your Minnesota days.

All it means is we have to take it easy on the roads, and think twice if we really want to go out for non-essential things. Right now, the wood stove is looking mighty comforting...

Robin said...

That is freaking hilarious that you found a restaurant with a liquor license. Suddenly the bad weather and having to be in at work seems much more fun. :) We got one slightly snowy day here but by evening it was mostly gone. Barely any snow has to fall here and all the schools cancel classes. Lee finds it silly because they rarely got snow days in Indiana. I think he is just a bitter old man. ;)

Shim Farm said...

Robin, it was so funny because we were closing the year-end and had so much stuff to do! And when you're sitting in an office without power, it's either time to break out the abacus or get the hell outta Dodge! We were also celebrating a birthday, and that involves alcohol...

The roads were CRAP though, and there were something like 8 school buses stuck in that one town. The mayor was all up in arms (rightfully so) because the schools should have been shut that day. I don't know if I would have sent my kid out in that weather...

But mind you, growing up, it was always, "if the school bus shows up, you're going to school"! It would also account for the fact I have been in 5 school bus accidents as a kid!

eagergridlessbeaver said...

yuck...I have seen too many roads like that...and worse is when you get off the bad roads and into standstill traffic..I hate traffic more than anything too!

Shim Farm said...

I spent so much time commuting that traffic has taken at least a decade off my life. I now avoid it like the plague. Plus, when the weather gets really bad, I try and stay off the roads too. I'm not worried about my own driving skills, but worried about other drivers. We see some doozie accidents around these parts, mainly honking-big SUV's that just PLOW into fields, hahaha, we have to laugh because it's kind of funny.

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