And then we headed home. The roads were snow-covered with icy sections, but there were tracks to follow, and it wasn't so bad. After all, we're CANADIANS! We're used to snow.
But after we left Highway 8, things got dramatically worse. One whiteout followed another in quick succession. Drifts were across the road, but we plowed through them, thankful that all of the kids were in the van, adding weight and traction. I was worried about Joanna travelling home with her three babies, and phoned to see if she arrived safely. No answer. Shot up a prayer to the God Who is With Us, then kept watching the road to warn Rick if he was getting too close to the ditch on my side.
Finally, after some hair-raising moments, called Joanna again. She was safe, PTL, but experienced dreadful white-outs. We were happy to know she was home, but we had at least an hour of nasty driving ahead of us.
It got worse. The further west we travelled, the thicker the snow was. Drifts we plowed through threatened to stop the van completely. We lost all sense of direction, and more than once we ended up part way in the ditch. Miraculously, we drove in and out.
We reached Bornholme, normally only ten minutes from home, but even travelling past houses that normally blocked the wind and snow didn't help. The alternator was dying; we were losing our lights and the heater was straining to put forth heat. Lord, help us.
It took almost 20 minutes to get to Brodhagen, and then it got horrendously bad. We couldn't see a thing. Rick kept going, and finally we saw some lights ahead of us. A truck was buried in a snowdrift, lights flashing, nobody on board. Daniel got out and banged off the wiper blades, and we crawled past the truck.
We plowed through drift after drift, often almost heading into one ditch or the other. We could barely see. Passed Beechwood (oh, joy!) then hit a snowdrift that stopped the van dead in its tracks. It was a little dip in the road and a bit of a hill, and the snow had accumulated there for at least a fifty foot stretch.
We tried pushing, to no avail. We tried kicking away the snow, but that didn't work. We all piled into the back of the van to put more weight over the tires, but that only got us a few feet. When Rick tried to rock the van back and forth, the back of the van kept slipping sideways, down towards the ditch.
Daniel and Patrick took off for home, running through the snowstorm. The plan was for them to get the tractor started and to come and rescue us. I stubbornly thought I could do something, and got back out of the van, landing in a drift that was up past my knees. The snow was up to the floorboards!
I persisted, kicking the snow away from all four tires, and clearing a path with my feet. I marvelled that there was no evidence that we'd just cleared the snow away in the last attempt, just five minutes before. It filled in so quickly.
Anyway, I kicked and cleared the snow (in my dress and Sunday boots - the snow was up past my knees, but my boots only went up to my ankles) and urged Rick to give it a try. He did, and went a few feet. "STOP!", I yelled, then kicked and cleared another 10 feet of snow so he could take a run at it. I got back in, and Rick put the van in gear. We were all praying...and the van started to go. Rick kept it going, and we cleared the snow! YES!
We were only 2 miles from home...so we plowed on, looking for Daniel and Patrick. There's footprints! Do you see them? Relief! There they are!
They climbed into the van, and we drove the rest of the way with only one more huge drift to plow through.
We're home. Safe and sound. We checked the radar, and there's a band of yellow straight up our road...it's like the trial was prepared specifically for us!
Next time the internet has a blowing snow warning, I think we'll stay home.