Yesterday, I posted the first in a series of write-ups of my time during last week’s blizzards, when I was stranded for eight days at the home of friends of mine. We lost power several times, including a three-day stint, while more than three feet of snow fell during the two storms.
A fellow genea-blogger encouraged me to record my memories of being snowed in while they were still fresh. I’m posting my write-ups in the hopes that it will spur others to do the same. Earlier this morning, I also posted ideas for preserving your blizzard memories for the future.
Here is part two of my snowy story:
The next morning, we didn’t exactly wake with the sun, but the fact we were all awake by 8 a.m. was abnormal, especially for the teenagers. I had a bowl of cereal for breakfast and Sherri set a tray of sliced bagels on the hearth for the rest of the family. They toasted up very nicely and there was margarine or cream cheese to spread on them.
Sherri’s most ingenious maneuver was to rig a s’mores maker I’d given them as Christmas gift a couple of years ago to boil water. The contraption included a grate under which you place a lighted sterno. You hold marshmallows over the grate using tiny skewers to toast them for the s’mores. Sherri placed a small tin pot full of water over the grate instead. After placing foil over the pot she was able to bring the water to a boil. This allowed her to brew hot tea for Paul, me and her.
While inside the house, we mostly remained in our sleeping bags, but the kids did venture out to play in the snow, which had stopped at sunset the night before. The day was bright, sunny and cold. Paul shoveled the walk and part of the driveway and we cleared off our cars. The dog frolicked in the snow with the kids and I took lots of pictures.
Some of our phone batteries were starting to run low. The kids charged theirs on the remaining juice from their laptops and Sherri and Paul used their car chargers while they warmed up the cars for a while. I was using mine sparingly and it still had a decent charge.
Lunch was leftover pizza slices warmed on the hearth the same way Sherri had toasted the bagels. Cold cuts and potato rolls were available too for those who wanted sandwiches. Kyle got permission to walk to his cousin’s house, where they had heat and power. I followed him to the corner with the dog on a leash, using the path created by his footsteps. Even with the path forged for me, the snow was past my knees (and I still didn’t reach bare pavement in my boots).
The dog wasn’t having nearly the trouble I was. He plowed through the snow, reminding me of a dolphin as he’d plunge into the snow, leap forward through the air and plunge back down. I stumbled several times and there was nothing I could grab onto to try and regain my balance. If I put my hand out to try and brace myself, it simply sank into the snow. Once we reached the corner, I was relieved to see that someone with a snowblower had cleared a path down the street about 3.5 feet wide. It was nice to walk around the block and stretch our legs.
Later, we watched a neighbor in a 1960s Ford Bronco rigged with a plow blade try to plow our court. We still had not seen a county plow or a PEPCO truck. The Bronco got stuck in my friends’ front yard and it took several guys to dig him free.
Dinner was barbecued chicken. I made mine into a sandwich. Sherri and Paul figured out a way to cook frozen hash browns on a cookie sheet on the grill. We found a package of chocolate-chip cookies for dessert. Another bottle of wine was opened (Riesling this time).
Sherri rigged curtains across the living room doorways, which helped trap the heat from the fireplace. Kara found an old battery-operated radio of hers and Sherri located batteries for it. We listened to updates about the snowstorm around the region. Washington, D.C. initially decided to open schools two hours late on Monday, but then recanted after many complaints from teachers and parents. We listened to periodic updates about the Superbowl, which we weren’t able to watch. We were happy to hear the Caps kept their winning streak going.
Despite the fact we still didn’t have power, we all managed to stay nice and toasty and this time everyone slept in the living room (except Kyle, who stayed at his cousin’s house). The rest of the house was in the 50s. Once again, we were all snuggled into our sleeping bags and blankets by 9 p.m.
We awoke around 8 a.m. again and decided to leave the curtains enclosing the living room open in order to let some heat into the rest of the house, which was now in the 40s. Sherri and Paul feared that the pipes for their water-fed baseboard heat would begin to freeze soon. The living room quickly cooled off despite the heat from the fireplace.
We were reluctant to use the last Sterno to heat more water for tea — we weren’t sure how much longer we’d be stuck. Without the hot beverage it was harder to keep the chill at bay.
I showered for the first time since the power had gone out. Luckily, the house still had hot water thanks to the gas water heater, but I had delayed the shower because I detest exiting a hot shower into cold air. At first, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I pulled on long-johns, jeans, a long-sleeved t-shirt and a wool sweater. I sat in front of the fire place while I waited for my hair to dry. I soaked up a lot of heat while in front of the fire, but couldn’t manage to hold it in, even after crawling back into my sleeping bag.
At this point, uncaffeinated and unable to shake off the chill, our situation was starting to take its toll. I curled up completely inside my sleeping bag and prayed for the power to be restored soon. Or at least to see a plow (a real one, this time).
Miraculously (finally!), a plow made its way down the street that led to our court a short time later. It managed to clear the road past our driveway, but then it got stuck in the neighbor’s yard. It took the arrival of another plow to free the first.
Sherri contacted other relatives in the area who also still had power and heat. She negotiated to have Paul drive me and Kara over to their house to warm up now that we could get out of the neighborhood. Paul, Kara and I ventured to Colesville Shopping Center first to pick up breakfast sandwiches and hot beverages.
The roads were still quite a mess. The plows hadn’t managed to reach bare pavement anywhere and had only cleared one lane on all of the streets — there was only room enough for one car at a time. Thankfully, Paul was driving a four-wheel drive SUV. Still, our first attempt out of the neighborhood was foiled by a wood-chipper dealing with a felled tree.
After our trip to Dunkin’ Donuts, we passed streets near my old elementary school that still hadn’t been plowed. Many cars were left by the school and folks walked to the homes of their friends and families from there because they couldn’t go any further. Another section of road was completely missed by the plows and we later learned that this was because of a downed wire. A Honda Element was stuck in the snow at the entrance to the unplowed area and someone had scrawled “Please Plow” on a large piece of ceiling tile stuck in a snow drift.
We managed to get to Dave and Susan’s and their heated house was such a nice sanctuary. Kara, Susan and I snuggled under blankets and watched HGTV while Kara and I ate our breakfast sandwiches and drank our tea and hot chocolate. Kara and I had brought our phones and computers. We were able to charge them back up and make use of Dave and Susan’s wireless.
Later, Susan served us hot tea and chips and salsa. Their oldest daughter will be getting married later this year and we got to see where she and her beau will spend their honeymoon. I also talked social marketing strategy with Dave who runs a real-estate business that is venturing onto Facebook. We all cringed at the news that more snow was on the way the next day.
Paul and Sherri had to stay at their house with the animals and to keep an eye on the pipes. They came to Dave and Susan’s around dinner time with pasta from Pizza Hut, salad and soda. Susan made rum and Cokes (with generous shots of rum, bless her).
Their big news was that Sherri’s brother was bringing a generator that at least could be hooked up to the house to run the heat again. Paul returned to the house to meet him. Soon after he arrived he called to report that while we were eating dinner with Dave and Susan, power had finally been restored. Hooray! He came back to fetch Sherri, Kara and me. That night, we were able to sleep in our own beds again.
2-14-2010: Part III now available.
2-15-2010: Part IV now available.