Monday, February 26, 2007


I know the title is overdone, but I drove down to Thief River Falls on Saturday evening. About 40 minutes out of Steinbach, and 15 minutes north of the border, I found myself in white-out conditions. I knew that there was a winter storm watch on; but I had driven into Winnipeg in the morning under the same storm warnings without difficulty. So it was with some dismay that I found myself driving deeper into blizzard conditions, not sure of where I would end up.

I preach in Thief River Falls about once a month, driving down Saturday evening and back on Sunday afternoon. I could have -- perhaps should have -- called Mel and said: "I can't make it. Sorry!" But I kept going straight. Out on the prairie it is easier to go straight than to turn around: through Rouseau and Tolstoi, on towards the border.

Homeland Security soon decided that this strange traveller, emerging from the blowing snow into the relative comfort of the border crossing, was no threat to the United States and could be allowed in. I had no desire to go back into the blizzard immediately, so engaged them in conversation about the weather -- and the possibility of accommodation in Lancaster, 10 miles down the road. (I knew the answer: none; but I thought I might stay with someone from a church I have preached for there.)

Half way from the border to Lancaster the blowing lifted a bit and I was left with a half hour of daylight and steadily falling snow. But now I could see the road, or at least the stubble on the verge, which showed me where the road stretched out ahead. I pressed on to Karlstad, where a motel offered some possibility if Thief River was just too far. Following a stop at the convenience store in Karlstad, I decided to press on to Thief River: the last 35 miles took another hour. Total travel time: four hours; normal time from Steinbach to Thief River: two hours and a bit.

When I got into Thief River at 8:30 in the evening, my host informed me that Mel (the associate pastor where I was preaching) had just called to say that the services for the next day had been cancelled and I could go home. Right!! I was relieved to discover that this announcement was a bit of prairie humour. Garrison Keillor would have approved.

Following two services the next morning, I drove back to Steinbach -- only two hours and 45 minutes this time. I also had a lecture to give Sunday evening in Winnipeg, with two more hours there and back and two and a half hours of lecture. So, a tiring weekend, but I am so grateful for safety. I have often said that I prefer blizzards to tornadoes, because you can't really avoid a tornado, but you can always stay inside in a blizzard. I should learn to listen to myself sometimes.


KGMom said...

Greetings from the rainy northwest! We are here in Portland, OR, for a meeting that Carlin has. We have not had white out conditions, but fog fog fog as we drove to the Columbia River Gorge. Too bad, as we missed the view of the mountains. We have forged ahead, touring various areas in spite of the rain.
Glad you are safe--maybe next time, work out a determination in advance when to cancel!

Anonymous said...

Tues. Afternoon
I'm glad you are safe & sound. I had a notion to call Sunday night to see if you had got home OK and had gone to Winnipeg as planned. And then true to my age, I forgot. Checked your blog site yesterday, but you hadn't posted this then yet. It reminded me of some of my Central Conference driving more than twenty years ago. And Donna, I wondered if Portland wouldn't be fogged in. It isn't called the City of Roses because of it's prolific sunshine.
Love, Father "C"

Climenheise said...

I do have an idea of when to cancel; but I thought (from driving around that morning and not hearing anything different on the radio) that the roads would be okay: just be careful. Well, it was more than "just be careful"! I'm sorry you missed the mountains, Donna. We don't have any here, of course: just Abe's Hill, made by adding dirt to the fill from building the highway through town, piled in a park near where we live. I thought of your driving also, Dad, so many long drives around the Central Conference in all kinds of weather.