Archive for February, 2010

The Weekend from Hell – Revisited

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

What a difference a week makes.  This time last Saturday we were just going out to begin the long, arduous process of digging out from what everyone will always remember as The Blizzard of 2010.  Evermore there will be that just-slightly-hushed, almost conspiratorial, moment of gravitas in our voices as we speak knowingly of an event none of us who experienced it will ever forget.

It’s an apt moniker.

Like most such things, you don’t really appreciate the full breadth of what is going on at the time.  You only see it in retrospect.

Part of the reason Ginny and I worked so hard last weekend was the urgency that attends being trapped.  I needed to get to work on Monday.  And she needed to be able to get out to ship freight.  That’s what underlay all our digging.  But tired as we were, we were in okay shape late Sunday as we sat down to watch the Superbowl.  The circle at the top of our driveway still wasn’t done, but at least we could get out.

So I was a little surprised when I checked the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) website just before going to bed.  Federal Agencies were closed on Monday.  I expected Liberal Leave.  But an outright closure?  Wow.  We’ll take it! It would give us more time to continue digging out.

More hours with shovel and snowblower.

Monday night I checked OPM again.  Another bit of surprise. We were closed again on Tuesday.

That was just as well, because late Tuesday the other shoe dropped.  Another storm moved in, dumping a bunch more snow.

And so went the craziest week I can ever remember.  More digging.  More working online, more talking to work colleagues by telephone, trying to get as much work done as we could.  And then each night checking the OPM website before going to bed.  Each night the Federal Government shutdown continued.  As it stretched past Tuesday into Wednesday, and then into Thursday, it got more and more surreal.  Friday, finally, things opened back up.  A little.  Commutes for most people sucked big time that day.  Metro had a train derailment.  And half the people never made it in.

There were other challenges.  The boyfriend of the woman who lives nearest to us decided to cut across the grass median to our driveway – this after not lifting a finger to dig their own driveway out – and promptly got his truck stuck, blocking us in.  He called a buddy with a bigger truck, who then got that one stuck.  By the time they got all that resolved the flat, even path that Ginny and I had so painstakingly dug was severely rutted in several spots.  Which meant we could get out with Ginny’s truck, but not with the cars.

And although we tried to get him outside as much as possible, Jasiri, our Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, didn’t get nearly enough exercise.  He was going as stir crazy as the rest of us.

Sometimes the nightmare abates slowly.

We do have to count our blessings, though.  Despite keeping the bathtub filled with water so we could at least flush the toilet if we lost power (we’re on a well), we never did.  Being able to stay online and watch TV was wonderful.  And our wood stove kept us warm.  There was great peace of mind in knowing that even if we did lose power, we wouldn’t be cold.

Here’s a shot taken on Monday, shortly after we cleared the circle at the top of the driveway.  Before the second snowstorm moved in.  One wonders if I’ll ever get my motorcycles out…

will I ever get my bikes out?

will I ever get my bikes out?

And here’s a shot looking down our driveway.  You get just a little sense for how long it is.  Clearing it was hell!

the long driveway

the long driveway

Here is a link to a few more images taken on Monday, before the second storm rolled in…

The Weekend from Hell

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Usually you look forward to the weekend.  In my case, especially – since my early-to-leave and late-to-get-home schedule means there’s hardly any time to do anything non-work-related during the week.  If there’s anything fun you want to do, or projects you need to get done… they have to wait for Saturday or Sunday.  You spend the work week mentally winding down this clock in your head.  Friday comes with a sigh of relief.

Alas, this weekend was the exception.  It was the weekend I never want to repeat again.  Ever.

Now snow – the harbinger of all this distress – certainly isn’t unexpected this time of year.  And despite grousing about it at times, I nevertheless always have a tinge of anticipation that accompanies the first falling flakes.  The photographer in me looks forward to the wintry scenes that result.

This one was pretty all right.  But it was so deep that there was little consideration of anything but digging out.  I don’t know if it broke the record, but it was certainly within the top 2 or 3 snowstorms we’ve ever had.  Ever.

Which simply translated into an enormous amount of work. After coffee on Saturday morning, Ginny said she was going to try and drive her truck down our 1/4 mile-long gravel driveway.  That’s how we manage most snowstorms, after all, using a 4wd truck to break a path out to the road.  But I shook my head and told her it would get stuck.  This snow, which had started the afternoon before, was too deep.

Some things we have to learn the hard way.

It took me about an hour to dig out the stuck truck.  After that I joined Ginny in working on the driveway.  She used her snowblower – which was very difficult to use given the depth of the snow and the inability of its tires to gain traction.  I wielded a shovel.

For hours we worked.  Long, tortuous work, slogging to clear a foot at a time.  There may have been other occasions when I’ve worked that hard.  But none come immediately to mind.  1300 feet of driveway-width, knee-high snow is a heck of a lot of stuff to move without heavy equipment.  By the time we quit in late afternoon I was so exhausted and so sore I felt like I had been hit by a truck.

Sunday morning we headed back out to finish the job.  By mid-afternoon we finally got it done.

Which is to say, neither photography nor anything else remotely fun was on the agenda this weekend.  I offer only a couple of images, one looking off our deck on Saturday morning while the snow was still coming down and one Saturday night after it had all ended.

May we not again experience the joys of such a weekend anytime soon…

during the snowstorm

during the snowstorm

snowstorm of the century

snowstorm of the century