Monday, January 22, 2018

Winesday Women Mt. Washington Whiteout Weekend

I'm back! Did you miss me?
"I missed you this much!"
I have been away, as you can tell by the above picture, to a place I have never been before, traveling with people I've never traveled with, dealing with crazy winter weather, and made it through! I am SO happy to be home.

I'm linking up to Patti's "Visible Monday" over at Not Dead Yet Style. I didn't put myself out there style-wise - I wore the same thing with variations all weekend - but I definitely operated WAY outside of my comfort zone all weekend, and I'm proud of myself for not cracking up (too much). I only cried once!

I always take a picture of Vizzini before I go so that I can look at him. Funny, I never do that for L!
"It's good that you know who is important here."
 I was packing on Thursday night, and Vizzini trailed after my terry robe's tie (we play with it on the bed in the mornings).

Bright and early Friday morning. All my stuff is packed and in the hallway in the background.
I went make-up-free for the trip. Why bother? I also wore the same shoes, purple velvet jeans and wool cardigan all weekend, changing up my long-sleeved t-shirts, socks and underwear. I also had another thick woolly cardigan that I wore around for extra warmth. These are all "around the house" clothes for me now, so none of them get tracked.

Bundled up in my outerwear - we were headed for the snowy heights of Mt. Washington, an alpine resort about midway up Vancouver Island (I live on the southern tip of the island). Link here.
 My down-filled parka was wonderful, as were my fur toque and scarf. The wool gloves got destroyed when I was digging (hint: foreshadowing!).

  • Toque/scarf - Danier Leather
  • Parka - T Tahari, thrifted; last seen here this month
  • Gloves - vintage, vintage fair - last wear!

The plan: Caro knows Paul, who owns a chalet at Mount Washington, and let six of us Winesday Women stay in it for Friday and Saturday night. Caro brought her truck; Karen rented a VW Tiguan. Three of us in each car, stowed with gear. Some of us will ski (not me!), some will snowshoe (not me!), and some will stay inside and read and recharge their batteries (me!!). Every person was responsible for a meal (I was Friday's dinner; I brought homemade chili), their own beverages, and to bring her own bedding, towels, and other necessary things. 

Caro picked me up bright and early Friday morning. 

 Who has two thumbs and organized an awesome trip!? This gal! Thank you, sweetheart!

We picked up Vero. Hi, Vero!
"Hi, Sheilala!"
 Out onto the Island highway we went. If you've been reading my blog for over a year, you'll know that I like to document trips up-island, as I don't go there that often. Vancouver Island is enormous, and I don't drive.
 In traffic at Duncan, Friday was a bit overcast, but not raining. Yay!

It can be a little scary on the highway, as there are a lot of logging trucks and other big trucks.
 Trust me, you want to get past them quickly.

This is a very intimidating sight to drive by.
 Death by logs! You see how my mind goes...

We were texting with the Tiguan - the intrepid and all-round awesome driver Cat was behind us with Karen and Yvonne. Thank you for your fantastic driving, Cat!
 I see you! It's starting to rain as we gain higher elevations. We've been driving for a couple of hours.

Now we're starting to see snow on the sides of the roads.
 This is still before noon, and the roads are clear.

Uh-oh, more snow.
 Well, we are heading to an alpine resort! I was expecting snow.

Snow sticking to the trees now.
 Snow is very pretty when you're looking at it through a window.

Okay, now it's snowing.
 And the road is not looking nice.

But the trees are still pretty!
 It doesn't snow much in Victoria, so this is fairly novel to me.

Here we are on the truck's navigator.
We've been driving for just over 3 hours here - getting hungry for lunch!
 We've driven up from the southern tip of the island (down below where the "Options" is), along the east coast, and now we're turning inland (like the arrow) and going higher. Vancouver Island has a "spine" of mountainous region right up the middle, lengthwise.

The chain-up area - only vehicles with snow-tires, 4-wheel-drive or chains are allowed up here. (more foreshadowing!).
 I see me and my little camera in the rear-view mirror!

Um, are you sure we want to drive into that snow?
 Apparently we do!

And we're still going, right?
 Oh, yes, we are!

We had four-wheel drive on our Ram truck, and the Tiguan was a champ in the snow. Others were NOT as smart.
 This truck was slewed sideways on the road. No chains, and the man is in his pajamas. What to do? Caro jumped out, and hooked him up with our chains (you can see them on the right rear wheel), and was totally awesome in helping them get going. But by the time they did, a huge line of cars and cranky drivers were behind us. And it was an ordeal getting our chains back, but we did.

And we made it! Mount Washington!
 Visibility was excellent. Yes, that's sarcasm.

The chalets came into view, along with a little caterpillar plow. (more foreshadowing!)
 Major props to these people, who keep things clear!

Here's our chalet! It was a 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom house. We really should have shoved out the garage door and put a car in there...and look at that snow already accumulated on the door peak. (more foreshadowing!)
Lesson. Learned.
 But we were so excited to be here, and to get up to the Village to see about renting things, and getting some lunch. Hungry!

The truck pulled in front with the Tiguan behind.
Look at that nice flat, plowed driveway. It's the last time we'd see it for a while...
 Hi, Yvonne! Come inside and see our new home for the weekend!

Even though it's blurry, I love this picture because of our elation at finally getting here. The incident with Pajama Man and the Chains was stressful!
 We brought a lot of stuff!

Ooh, let's look around at the views from the chalet, shall we?
 Through the window at the back desk. The snow's drifted to within about 12 inches of the railing and there's a small accumulation on the railing itself.

Inside the chalet, looking from the living room area to the kitchen.
 The kitchen was fully stocked, with every utensil you could need (even a salad spinner! Impressed, Paul!).

The living room. We had trouble getting a satellite signal on the TV.
 We all brought snuggly blankets, and lounged around in here for much of our trip. Well, I lounged and read here a lot!

Okay, gang, let's suit up and go to the village! I borrowed a pair of snow pants from Karen (thank you, hon!) because I am an unprepared goon who doesn't own clothing for this climate.
Karen, Yvonne? and Vero?
 We took the Tiguan (two trips!) and met up at the Village.

We had lunch at the pub there, then checked out the rental areas and scoped everything out.
 I can't tell who anyone is in their gear. Yvonne and Vero, is that you?

One of the ski hills.
 Yeah, no, I will not be doing any of that business.

Yvonne and Caro consult the map.
 Washington has all kinds of ski/snowboarding runs, snowshoe trails and also does tubing (sliding down a hill on an inflated inner tube).

Awesome. Point me to a couch, make me a cup of tea, and fetch my blankie. While the others did their things (snowshoe exploration, a bit of skiing), that's what I did.
 Neighbouring chalets up the hill from us - that's Caro industriously shoveling us a hole and seats for the fire-pit thingy. We never did use it...(foreshadow!).

This was such a pretty view. I took a lot of pictures of it...
 And every one was different...

That night we chilled out. ate my chili, drank wine and gabbed. Couldn't get the TV working, so we played a couple of games. The next morning, we woke up to lots of coffee, fresh toast, a fruit salad and a wonderful sausage, veggie and egg scramble, courtesy of Cat.
 My coffee in a Grateful Dead mug on the table there. Our food was so good, the whole time! Thank you to Cat for keeping me caffeinated. I owe you, hon.

More skiing and snowshoeing for my women on Saturday, and more indoor reading and napping for me. But the's still snowing...
 That't the same view of our up-hill neighbours. Visibility is becoming an issue.

We ate delicious lasagna that night with a salad and crusty bread.
Caro, Vero, Yvonne, Cat, Karen and me!
 I took a group photo with my camera's auto-timer (that's how I take pics at home).

After dinner, around 8pm, we peeped out, and thought since it was snowing still, maybe we'd better shovel out the cars, just in case.
 Me and Cat, geared up and ready to venture outdoors. This was my only trip outside all day Saturday!

We opened the door and...ACK!
 The snow is up to my thighs! Holy smokes!

We worked for nearly an hour to dig out the 8 inches or so of snow that had enveloped the cars. Everyone came out and dug for a bit - many hands made short work of it.
 I re-messed up my shoulder shoveling (an injury I had last year), so I resorted to scooping out snow between my legs with both hands - it worked pretty good!

Feeling flush with our labours, we came back inside and had more wine and some junk food (what's a vacation without junk food?).
 Uh-oh, the snow on the deck is at the railing...

That night, we heard the snowplow coming - I viewed from one of the bedrooms upstairs, as she went by.
That's the reflection of my camera in the upper left
 Caro went out to talk to the driver, Linda, a woman she knew from previous trips, and chatted about getting our driveway more clear. Because, see those lumps at the bottom of the above picture? Those are our cars! After we've shoveled them clean, mere hours before!

With a wave, she went on her way.
 Bye, Linda, I'm sure we'll see you again...soon!

And the snow out on the deck?
 That was no drift. The snow out there was waist-high!

Sunday morning, time to go home!
 Um...wait, where is the deck? THAT IS THE DECK. No railing. Just snow. Oh, shiiiiiiit....

As you can see, the skies were so blue! It looks fake, but I didn't do any colour-correcting at all.
 Our neighbours up the hill. A few of us (not me!) went out on snowshoes to get the lay of the land and check on the roads. While I was looking out the window, I heard a huge rumbling noise...and the snow off the peaked roof slid down and landed right in front of me. All that snow in the foreground is from the roof. No sign of Caro's fire-pit. An opportunity lost, unfortunately!

Did I mention this window that I'm looking out is on the second floor?
 The snow is up past the second floor. That's waist-high on me standing indoors, about 12 feet of snow!

We finally figured out why the satellite signal wasn't coming through.
 Apparently snow is a great insulator. Who knew?

But our cars...we had over 110 cm (about 4.5 feet) of snow overnight. What had happened to them?
Karen, coming back from taking some photos of our neighbourhood
 Buried, that's what. Imagine if we had not already shoveled them out the night before.
 Caro's husband's response to this picture: "MY TRUCK." I can just see the windshield wiper sticking out!

The truck and the Tiguan.
 The snowdrifts were over our heads!

I helped dig for a little while, but there weren't enough shovels and I felt in the way (and my wool gloves had popped holes in the fingers and were useless by then). We shoveled and dug for hours, all day, checking devices for news - "The Mountain is closed!" We were all over the local news! This was the first time the resort had been closed in 20 years due to snow! Link here.
 Our chalet neighbours were out, frolicking in the snow with their dog.

Can you see them in the centre of this picture?
 There were avalanche warnings, and all hopes of getting home on Sunday were dashed. We're not getting out, we have to stay another night. I called L at home and asked him to email my boss and let them know. Sorry, work. Stuck in the snow!

We kept digging...and it kept snowing!
 That's the truck on the left; the Tiguan on the right. Suddenly, the whole idea of shoveling out the driveway to the garage and putting one car in there seemed like a very good idea.

One we wished we'd thought of sooner. Hindsight and all.
 Because it's still snowing.

But during the day it finally stopped, and the sun came out.
 Oh, wow, that is just beautiful.

I'm still not going out there.
 Stop tempting me, gorgeous view! I see that the roof has dumped more snow.

You don't fool me. I'm totally not going out there.
I had moments of utter panic - I'm trapped! I laid on my bed (Caro, Yvonne and I shared a very cramped 3-bed room), and cried a bit, and tried to get my head together.

I tried to read (I brought a few trashy novels, read nearly 2), and calm myself. Deep breathing.
Her feet are not touching the deck there
Karen came in and tackled the deck, getting the snow off the satellite. Karen, you're a trooper!

I watched as five amazing women cleared out the cars, digging them down to the wheels again.
The issue became, "What do we do with the snow we remove?" Vero (who came down with a cold while we were there) said, "Get it off the property!" so they carried all that snow around the corner and built up a dump area. Amazing.

The Tiguan is clear! The Ram truck is clear!
But note how the snow is till accumulating on them both. Because the sky never stays blue.

Hey, we're on the news! Not us, but the other people stuck up here.
3pm, what can I do? I'm still feeling panicked and I have to stop watching the news or I will lose it again.

I cobbled together dinner fixin's from our leftovers and tidied up the chalet, running the dishwasher too.
What's that glowing ball in the sky? Something called a "sun"?

Look at these women! They got the Tiguan out! Hurrah!
But we knew the roads were still closed, and were clogged by people trying to get off the mountain and sliding into snowbanks. No, thank you, we'd rather stay the night where it's warm, we have food and water, and hot showers! We did lose power very briefly twice - we found the candles after the first outage!

Linda came by with the plow and helped clear our driveway.
Yay, Linda! Thank you!

She carved out the driveway entry, clearing a nice wide swath.
Such a relief.

A neighbour stopped by - Karen had met Nigel the dog on her morning photo expeditions - he loaned us an extra shovel.
Nigel is a big black poodle

And then Linda got stuck, her rear wheels going rrrrrrr, even with the chains on them. And oops, gotta move the Tiguan, someone's trying to get through.
And another emergency worker (thank you!) came by and got the plow out!

Karen grabbed a shovel - we're getting the driveway shoveled and we're opening the garage and we are putting that Tiguan in there!
I am completed agog at the physical effort that it took to do all this, and deeply appreciative of my friends' efforts. Thank you, all of you.

Let's get 'er in, Cat!
No, maybe we should back in.

Okay, now back up.
With the car safely under cover, and the truck mostly de-snowed, we had dinner and chilled out for the evening. We resigned ourselves to being stuck - it was out of our control - and did our rescheduling, calling of husbands, and just hunkered down for another night. I gave out neck, upper back, shoulder and hand massages to my valiant group of shovellers.

This morning (Monday), it dawned bright and clear. Hurray!
The plow had been by again overnight, and cleared off the road a bit.

Look at that blue sky.
It hurt my eyes to look at it.

And here's our chalet again - note the snow on the left side, nearly up to the kitchen windows!
We loaded up the truck and car, cleaned up the chalet.

How did I feel about going home?
"I'm so happy!"
Thanks to Yvonne for taking my picture, and for being so supportive and understanding. I see you there in shadow!

How do I really feel about all this?
"Get me the fuck home."
Although I really struggled at times, I'm glad I did this trip. But I do not like feeling trapped.

Let's get things loaded!
Nearly done. We even took all of our garbage and recycling home with us.

I tried to do a group photo with my timer, but the bright snow threw off the light reading and the aperture stayed open, resulting in this:
"Hey, it's still go---" *click*
Ha! Caro, Cat, Vero, Yvonne and me (toothy and squinty). Karen was also trying to do her auto-timer. I hope her picture is better!

Looking up towards the village.
That's still solid snow on the road, with lots of patches of ice. I slipped and fell, twisting my ankle right after I took this picture. I'm stiff, sore and covered in random bruises.

While we were waiting to get out, another truck came by. The women in it backed up...and slid into a snowbank!
"Hi, Vero!"   "Hi, Sheilala!"
Caro again loaned her chains to help get these ladies (who were very nice and chill about the whole thing) back up the mountain. That woman has a heart of gold. We got the chains back and then...

Oh, god, yes, we are in the truck and going home!
The truck was still covered in snow. We couldn't reach the roof.

Yes, we were "those people", driving down the highway with chunks of ice and snow flying off us. Guilty.
We took it very slow going down the mountain, though.

Some of the ski trails are visible here.
As soon as the roads were open, people swarmed back up.

I guess if you're into skiing or snowy activities, this is a pretty amazing place to do it.
Me, I am fixated on the nearly not-covered-in-snow road.

Looking down the island. We're so far north, I can't even see where we're headed.
But look at that road! Nearly clear!

I do love to LOOK at the pretty trees in the snow.
But me and this much snow? That's a big ol' NOPE.

We crept down the road.
Are we there yet?

More trees and bushes.
Distract yourself with pretty trees, Sheila.

I see road!

We kept in touch with the crew in the Tiguan.
Seriously, props to VW (totally not biased or sponsored or anything), but that car was aces in the winter weather!

I had to take a picture of the gnome!
But I've never actually MET the gnome!

Um, he's not as nice up close.
EW. Thumbs...up?

We stopped in at the gas station, which had a White Spot restaurant in it, and had burgers, fries and onion rings for lunch (yum!). One of the attendants was kind enough to take our picture.
Cat, Vero, Yvonne, Karen, Caro, me
Oh, my wonderful Winesday women! We did it! We survived being together under duress at Mount Washington during a huge whiteout snowstorm! It was a testament to our friendship that we all worked and played together so well. There was no bickering, no judgy-ness, everyone helped and cooperated. It was a wonderful trip.

Coming down-island after lunch.
We're just past Nanaimo - only two more hours of driving, and we'll be in Victoria (where it says "Saanich" on the map).

And now I'm home, and while that was a fun trip, I am SO glad to be here!


  1.! Er...screen-scroller... What an adventure! Terrifying, too. How do people live with that much snow?! Maybe y'all can go back for a summer getaway weekend--although I'll bet "summer" is a pretty short season there!

    1. Thanks, Pam! I do not know how people can live in snowy areas - this was enough for me to last a lifetime!

  2. Wow, that was some saga!

    I think you should have had a temporary nickname when you were in the truck: Vero, Caro, Sheilo!

  3. What an adventure, Sheila! Glad you survived!

  4. wowww, that's a lot of snow, I think I would stay into the house too, reading some books!.
    So lovely to see all your adventure!

  5. Phew, what an adventure you had, Sheila! I've never seen so much snow. It's looking pretty but I don't think it would be for me either. And I can't even think of being trapped without hyperventilating. But I do love that photo of you in the snow! And those blue skies ... xxx

    1. Me neither! It was an incredible display by Mother Nature, that's for sure.

  6. "Snow is very pretty when you're looking at it through a window." and "Get me the fuck home" are my big takeaways here. When my car and house is covered in snow, I'm crying and needing a Florida weekend (you guys should come down here next!) Brave women, all of you and thanks for sharing the adventure with us, whilst we sip our hot teas : > You're a star, xox


    1. Yup, that about sums it up, Patti! Florida sounds wonderful in comparison!

  7. Glad you survived--with a little help from your friends!

    You know I love snow. I've been stranded more than once in the Adirondacks and northern Minnesota. Teaches acceptance, a sense of proportion, and the value of having (and being) good neighbors. :-)


    1. Yup, we all helped out together - it worked out well. You are so right - I had to just chill. There was nothing I could do and I had to accept it. Good neighbours!

  8. So proud of you for going outside your comfort zone! Honestly that whole trip looks like a blast to me. I would have loved to get snowed in!

    1. Thank you, Charlotte! It was really hard to do, but I am proud of myself for pushing myself to do this.

  9. Wowza, Thanks for sharing that incredible adventure! And to think that there have been the odd years when Mount Washington doesn't even open due to No Snow. You really hit the motherload!
    Suz from Vancouver

    1. Thanks, Suz! I have enough of Mt Washington for a few years, at least!

  10. Damn, get me the fuck home I can hear you Sheila ! OMG there was so much snow in this post I almost felt it.
    Even though the sites are beautiful and your neighbors and their dog seemed to enjoy this, I would have freaked out. Mostly because I am not use to this weather. OMG I will never complain about out weather again.

    1. Lol, I know, right?? I am just not used to this sort of thing, and it was really overwhelming at times. Thanks, Lorena!

  11. Wonderful, wonderful post Sheila, but I'm with you - even reading it from the comfort of my sitting room I had angst about all that snow. I would have freaked at the non-stop nature of it all. But of course it looks picture box pretty too! I love reading about your friendship with these amazing women and that photo as you all arrive captures the essence of the trip beautifully. Thank you for sharing!
    Anna x

    1. I know! I can't even look at this post without starting to feel anxious again. It was beautiful, and so worth it for my wonderful women. Thank you, Anna!

  12. I hope you remembered to wave at me! I am somewhat like you though. I'm half an hour away from all that and am not a skier nor do I particularly like snow. It's very pretty to look at though. It looks like it was a good time and so great to have such a group of friends! Thanks for capturing your trip so well. It was fun to vicariously enjoy it. xo

    1. I did! Did you see me? Hee hee! It is definitely fun to look at. Thanks, Shauna!

  13. Wow! What an adventure, Sheila! Your photos are amazing! I can't imagine being surrounded by so much snow! It looks so beautiful in the photos but I can imagine it would be scary in real life! Glad you all made it home safely! Hope your ankle is feeling better, Sheila! XXX

    1. Thank you so much, Sasha! It was amazing - I have never seen so much snow in my life! Thanks, hon.

  14. Thank you for capturing our trip Sheila! :-)) It was a pleasure to read!

  15. Oh my goodness, what a weekend! I can't even comprehend that much snow! I would have been going crazy feeling trapped inside, I'm glad it eventually cleared enough for you to be able to get out!

    1. I know, isn't it crazy? I've never seen that much snow.

  16. Totally with you on feeling trapped! How wonderful though that you have such dear, intrepid friends, and good on you for pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. I know how hard that is...I'm so sorry the weather got a bit crazy! It's such a strange, scary feeling, being at the mercy of Mother Nature like that.
    Reading this brought back many memories for me of the winter of 1977. My late parents and I were also not outdoor/snow/skiing type people. Yet they moved us to Lake Tahoe, Incline Village NV, 6500 feet up in the mountains. We lived in a condo with no garage, think of that! And my parents had no idea what snow tires even are! Talk about a harsh learning curve. Oh, that whole winter was like your weekend, LOL. I was 11. I stayed sane by listening to John Denver and Elvis nonstop, pretty much--and did a fair amount of homesick crying, and watched a LOT of TV. I vowed, that although I too love snow on pretty trees, I would never live in snow country again. So much work and effort just to exist every day, let alone get out of the house! Yet there were moments when the beauty of the snowy woods--especially at night, when the snow would fall so quietly--just tugged at my heart. I hope you had a moment or two like that as well...kind of makes up for the other stuff. Sort of, lol.
    So glad you made it home in one piece! Thank you for the marvelous writeup and all the beautiful pictures. I never got to explore Vancouver Island past Victoria, so it was extra interesting to me. *purrr*

    1. Thank you, Red! It was one of those trips that I'll be able to look back on and say, "I did that!" Your childhood story resonates with me - Lol, I would have been listening to the Carpenters and John Denver (and a little Barry Manilow!). Yes, the beauty was there, and it was awe-inspiring, but it was enough for me.

  17. p.s. oh yes, and the logging trucks! laughed out loud. Every time we drive to Oregon, we pass them up as quickly as possible and those "Final Destination" movies always flash through my mind, argghhhh....!

    1. Yes! They filmed much of those in this area! I always think of that logging truck scene!

  18. absolutely RIVETING story! Wow, what a bunch of badass women!

  19. Now that’s what I call an adventure! This is a brilliant post Sheila, I’ve really enjoyed reading it, you documented it so well. What a great weekend with great friends. A BIG cheer to Karen for clearing the snow off the satellite. I would have been up for ski-ing a few years ago, but not now! The chalets do look pretty and the blue skies are gorgeous.

    1. Thank you so much, Polly! Yes, Karen is a CHAMP - what an incredible woman! It was a lovely time with my favourite people.


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