Perhaps some of the people of the world who consider themselves to be adventurous would look down at my experiences in the last 36 hours. Others, of course, would understand that they qualify as adventure.
I mean, I was outside for most of the day during the worst prairie blizzard in 50 years - that has got to count for something.
Now you have to understand that blizzards in Saskatchewan are kind of par for the course, though they usually only show up for several hours in that lovely spring month of March. And usually the city goes about its business... Drivers drive slowly, ignore all the traffic lights, jaywalk in strange places... And generally nobody dies. But you have to admit, when the weather warnings start rolling across your TV screen in bright red, as a native of Saskatchewan, the usual response is, "Oh, cool. A blizzard! I'll have to start out early for work/school tomorrow, or I won't make it to Tim Hortons..."
Some might argue that this is because we're staunch folks with self-sufficiency, hardyness, and a good dose of the dauntless prairie spirit built in.
I'd prefer to go with the more likely explaination that it's because we're all insane.
After all, this is the first "Snow Day" we've had in Saskatoon for ages. And by ages I mean, I'm 21 and there hasn't been one in my lifetime. More stuff probably shut down in Saskatoon to watch the news for 9/11 than for weather.
In light of this you may understand why my morning on Wednesday started with me safe and warm in bed with a blizzard blowing through the city of Saskatoon with great fervor and whistlyness and the ability to see across the street every ten seconds or so for an instant. Of course, it was difficult to see how bad it was outside because it was just plain difficult to see. I called the Art Department... "Is my painting class going to be going on?" The receptionist gave me the momentary hope that it was cancelled and then said, "No, wait, your prof is here. The class will go on, but she won't penalize you if you can't get here." I later found out that the University only started closing down at 4pm officially. *sigh* The insanity abounded.
I dressed deliberately. Goofy socks, since people might be seeing them today. Heavy sweatpants for the dual purpose of warmth and possible nightwear, my jeans over that, a tank top, my favourite sweater, a bunnyhug for the hood, a pair of generic gloves and my leopard flip-mitts over those, a hastily adopted family scarf of great usefulness, and my heavy coat. I didn't take a bag, or anything amusing, just my cell phone and my bus pass, and my Visa in case of Taxi or food. My Ug boots, of course. I pinned up my hair out of my face and donned my glasses - finally I was set. When I opened the back door I stepped into a good foot of blown snow that had covered our pathway to the gate. The gate itself hadn't been covered yet. Good.
I slogged through mostly knee deep snow to my bus stop circa 11:15. I stood in a tiny clearing on the person's driveway where I had a little shelter from the wind. It was awe-inspiring, certainly. The buffeting of the wind, the changeableness of the direction - the snow swirling, my eyelashes freezing and feeling kind of neat - you have to close your eyes and wait for the ice to melt... It was beautiful, especially the sound. But nature's powerful shows usually are equally beautiful and destructive. They certainly make things more timeless. At about 11:45 a bus arrived. I got on and it took me as far as the mall before I got out because I thought I saw the 13. Little did I know that by that time Preston had closed and that bus route was non-existant. This time, however, I had a bus shelter, though still really outside and being covered with snow from the wind. In the half hour that I stood there again, I witnessed a very near accident and a car being horribly stuck while 6 guys about my age put their backs into it for over 10 minutes until they got it moving down the street...
As I discuss this part of the story, I can't help but wonder about my day as if it were a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. Here my choices were, stay on the original bus, with an infinite number of choices from there, or try to wait for the 13, or get on the next bus and hope for the best... Or even just walk home and go back to bed. Not that I would have actually chosen that last one. I was on an adventure!
I would have taken pictures, but again, whiteout. It would have been kinda pointless, plus all I had was my cell phone cam, not my good digital. There's probably lots of good footage out there without mine anyway.
So we left off with me standing in a bus shelter on the other end of the mall lot from the bus mall. Half an hour later an 80 bus arrived and I decided that was good. I got on and had a rather interesting ride downtown. I found out that SIAST had cancelled classes when a literal mob of people piled on at the bus stop for the school. I was growing suspicious. It was truly nasty outside.
I got downtown. The people coming on the bus were saying that U of S was cancelled. I figured if this continued all day my chances of getting home were slim. Turned out I was right already. I crossed the street to a small huddle of people, slightly sheltered by a building and waiting for a 70 or 80 - anything going North. The #14's, also going North, were telling us to just wait for one of the ones that was more likely to make it to the Lawson Mall at least. I waited for hours, made several phonecalls, though my cell phone decided to pick this day to show a dying battery. It's a problem I only have once every few weeks.
For all you RP'ers from Deleran: By this time I couldn't help but wish I had more in common with Twylight Black - specificially, the ice being half of her that withstands the cold better than I. I waited for nearly three hours. Then I spotted the 5 Fairhaven. I recognized that name as being near my Aunt's workplace, and on the phone she assured me that if I could get there I should. If I'd been stranded downtown I may have just walked all the way there, since it would only be about 25 blocks, instead of 5 times that to the North End. I took a chance and caught that bus. It was having brake failure issues, so we stopped on the way at the Bus depot where the mechanic brought out a bus for us and asked what the problem had been, then cheerfully went off to fix it. I was nearly at the stop where I'd be as close to my destination as possible and I was getting excited. No more standing in the cold!
I got off the bus, and walked the 6 blocks to the Nursing Home. Slogged, more like, for two blocks in the sidewalks, a good part of which were thigh deep. Then I moved to the center of the road. Not as much snow, not as much traffic as usual, and since I was wearing a dark wine color, I wasn't too hard to spot in the white world around me. I finally saw the Home and got in. People had been waiting for me since I'd made a quick call to my Aunt, "My cell is dying so I'll make this quick - I'm hopping on the 5 Fairhaven bus and trying to get to you. See you soon hopefully."
I had made it to a safe and warm place with a generator, a kitchen with food supplies for a hundred people, and extra matresses. Also, a boiler room that was warmer than the rest of the place. I was frozen through, and must have looked like a yeti when I came in. They sent me to the boiler room, where I gradually reached room temperature while surrounded by a room that looks like the quintessential spy hideaway where they put the bombs that target the entire building... There were pipes and electric box labels everywhere, with conspicuous titles like, "Activity Crawlspace Activation" or such descriptions. Also, there was one really neat set of intertwining copper pipes with little orange round number tags on it, another place with a wrench hanging randomly near a similar sized bolt, and buckets and tubing and plastic things slotted wherever there was room. Also, there was an entrance to a crawlspace that obviously had stuff inside it. I itched to explore, but being responsible I only did so with my eyes. Nonetheless, the place was paradise for imagination. After this I moved upstairs to the staff room where I skimmed and nearly read an entire book on assasinations. Then I switched to Reader's Digest, which definitely goes with the whole theme of getting to know my Canadian self. I got to read almost the entire 2006 spread from January to October, the more recent ones didn't seem to have found their way to this box yet. I was led into the stuff room, where I found a pair of Men's size 9 slippershoes - you know the kind old people wear with the flannelish looking outside and the plastic sole. I donned those since my boots were wet. After I was most of the way through the RDs and the book, I was invited to a TV watching party with some of the staff who were staying the night in the activity room. We watched CSI:NY, my first time seeing an episode of that particular one. My only comment - it's much brighter, and the actors aren't as good as original series. Las Vegas all the way. After TV, a shared single bag of microwave popcorn, crackers, and some leftover Turtles chocolates for the others (I hate chocolate. My prediction is that out of this entire post, this is the one thing SOMEONE who did not know this yet will want to comment on. Humans. *eyeroll*)
I slept with my Aunt in the hairdressing room. We talked for an hour or so before we slept, but I didn't sleep well because this was the far side of the building and it was cold in there. In the morning my Aunt helped me wash my hair in the hairdressing sink. I wish I had one of those at home, really I do!
Most of the conversation I had that morning with the lovely old folks I folded and sorted laundry with could be summed up in the usual diatribe, "Ya bunch of pansies. In my day we shoveled ourselves out of 60 foot walls of snow and we liked it!" Well, maybe not, but I could definitely imagine them saying that, and it was a little more interesting than the conversation about how there were only four baskets of towels today. After that I read the rest of the RDs, and then did a little homework designing my wax/pewter amulet for Sculpture. I think I've worked out how to do it, but I need to properly draft it out to make sure it will work before I start finalizing the design. Nonetheless, it was progress. I also had realized the night before that BRIT, my high school's huge Basketball tournament, was scheduled for this weekend and started in the afternoon on Thursday.
I was supposed to work, but after two phonecalls there yielded no answer I gave up and accepted a ride to Bedford from a co-worker of my Aunt's who was heading home after all the hubbub. Thus I spent the evening at BRIT shooting highlight video. This, excepting possibly announcing at the scorer's table, is the best way to spend BRIT - with an immunity pass to get in free, stand in people's way, and generally be as close to the action as possible. The Australian team beat the Sasktoon Bowman Bears 47-46 because of their show off star getting TWO steals in a row and then a three point shot. Nothing like that kind of excitement. Here's a photo Drew took of me waiting for good video. I'm in white with the camcorder, of course.
I had an adventure that ended with my friend Drew, another alumni on BRIT crew, remembering where I lived after giving me a ride a year ago on the same night of BRIT. Crazy.
Whatever happens, I can bet that this will be the Saskatoonian story - For some it was, where were you when they shot JFK? For my generation, the universal question will be, Where were you wehen you found out about 9/11? And if you say you're from Saskatoon, they'll ask you, "What happened to you in the great blizzard of 2007?" At least I have an interesting story.