Snow! - Grampies Iberian Inquisition Spring 2023 - CycleBlaze

March 1, 2023


Are we really getting out of here?

This entry has been written over the past three days, during which our area has been passing through a snow emergency.  We have been variously snowed in, without power, and receiving ominous emails from the airline, making us think that sunny Portugal could have become just a dream. Here is the story:

Monday: February 27.    Two weeks ago, when we still might have been deciding on going to Europe just now, we could smell Spring in the air right here. The daffodils were beginning to come up, and even after we had decided to do the bike tour, we wrote on the jobjar for getting ready "Weed the raised beds".

Birds were appreciating the rose buds.
Heart 3 Comment 0
A Northern Flicker passed by.
Heart 5 Comment 0
Amaryllis were in bloom.
Heart 4 Comment 0

That was then, but this is Canadian winter. The snow started innocently, as it usually does. A few flakes. They would melt, because Spring, right? But no, they intensified and accumulated. 

I went out in the evening to get some chocolate covered jujubes, essential fuel for trip planning. But at the intersection with the Trans Canada Highway the space was filled with ambulances and police cars with flashing lights. Two pickups had succumbed to the conditions and were wrapped around telephone poles. 

By morning I looked out to see how much snow might be on the car. It was not a good sign that I could not find the car.  Not stolen, but buried.

Fat snowflakes.
Heart 4 Comment 0

Our trip plan calls for a stop in Montreal. Compared to where we are on Vancouver Island, Montreal is "real" Canada. Tonight's low there is -11°C. There is a snow warning too:

Heart 0 Comment 0

Unlike when we left for Mexico, I am not rebelling against these conditions now. After all, I am a Canadian and this is my native climate. I can walk out in the snow at peace with my surroundings. Oh, except for one thing - Air Canada could easily cancel our flight to Montreal. Then we would miss the one to Porto. About that "at peace with my surroundings" bit, humbug!

Tuesday: February 28     The text above was written last night. This morning we awoke not only to again not seeing the car under the snow (ok, it is a white car) but with the power off. My first reaction, which is universal but which I will claim as Canadian, was to burrow deeper under the duvet, and to take out a book - in this case a travel story from sunny India. But you can only stay in the duvet for so long. So in another Canadian move, I stoked up the wood stove and cooked up some Egg McBagels, coffee, and hot chocolate on the top of the stove.  In our part of the country, reliance on electricity is not total. For the next typical step, I dragged out the tractor, and cleared at least the top layer of snow from the long driveway. One problem with the temperate part of the country where we are is that there will be super slippy ice under the snow. That means that plowing a driveway does not necessarily make it passable.  But plowing does increase the chance that the ice will melt, sooner or later.

By the time of this photo, the car had become visible.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Hooray for the Farm King blade!
Heart 6 Comment 2
Suzanne GibsonA whole new persona with you on a tractor and not a bike!
Reply to this comment
1 year ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesFarmer Steve vs Biker Steve. Both have their place in the world.
Reply to this comment
1 year ago
If there were not a hill at the end of this, we could get out quite easily.
Heart 4 Comment 0

The power did come back at the end of the morning, and with it the wifi. The wifi brought a message from Air Canada:

Well Air Canada says we don't have to do anything. We are going to believe them, and gamble. It's only Tuesday. That gives them two days to plow their runways and shovel off their wings! That is, unless there is more snow!
Heart 1 Comment 0

Wednesday, March 1

We awoke this morning to the thunderous rumble of snow avalanching off the roof. It's amazing how loud and threatening only a moderate amount of snow can sound up there. Our roof is made from high tech recycled aluminum. Maybe it amplifies the sound. Metal roofs in other areas have dams to prevent avalanches. But here we do not really get snow, right?

It's not as if the snow was really committed to melting. Most of it is sticking around. Partly that's because our little farm is in a "hole". The south facing farm field adjoining is looking more melted, though it is still white.

Daughter Joni reports from Victoria, 50 km south of us, that the people are wandering about the bare streets wondering where all the promised snow is. That's a good sign, because our airport is also south. If all is well there, then we only have to worry about Vancouver and Montreal.

Just to test whether we will actually be able to get out and to the airport tomorrow, I took our van on the driveway. It takes a bit of skill, because the hill at the end is also a curve. You have to hit the hill with some speed, but not so much that you also fly off the curve. 

I made it, and took the opportunity of going to the local hardware for some rat traps. Rats have been nibbling the plastic pipes that our house is cleverly constructed with. We occupied  lots of our snowed in time fixing pipes and pumping up water. It's sort of good that the pipe attacks have come while we have been home. Our house sitters are great people, but rolling on your back in a crawl space with water spraying in your face is not their favourite thing. Now hopefully all they have to do is to keep an eye out for any further water escapes, and monitor the rat trap line. 

All this - getting snowed in, power outage, rat attack is absolutely par for the course in living in the country. We chose it, and we still love it. But when you bug out for three months, you have to hope that things hang together for at least a while.

One thing we do know from past trips -once we are out on the road in a far off land, once we are not cooking bagels on a wood stove, but rather enjoying a sumptuous breakfast buffet somewhere, home will seem very distant. And then in due course, we will be anxious and glad to get back. It's all part of the fun.

Rate this entry's writing Heart 10
Comment on this entry Comment 4
Scott AndersonWow. So did you take a pass on the chance to change your flight to Lisbon instead though?
Reply to this comment
1 year ago
Patrick O'HaraHappy trails. Looking forward to following along.
Reply to this comment
1 year ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Patrick O'HaraGlad to have you (virtually) along.
Reply to this comment
1 year ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonOnly Air Canada, and not the rapacious TAP, was offering any rescheduling.

We have been getting advice against our proposed N2 and Douro route sections, but we are stubborn and are sticking with Porto. On the other hand we just got an email from Jean Paul and Chantal Riff ( . They are going to follow us up N2 in May.
Reply to this comment
1 year ago