Trudging through the storm in a white mini van, we ride in disbelief that highways such as this one were not shut down. White out conditions with bare visibility makes blowing snow warnings laughable as we headed from Winnipeg to return home West.
Leaving Brandon, Manitoba at 3:30am since our 9pm long but steady drive, we knew this regular six hour journey would require patience. But what we didn’t expect were three foot drifts and lack of ploughs on Christmas day.
Getting stuck ditch after ditch, we braved the elements with socks for mittens and snow brushes for shovels. Our lack of winter gear didn’t help but even more disparaging was being told by CAA Manitoba at 4:30am that there were no tow trucks and maybe RCMP heading out our way in eight to ten hours. Basically, good luck.
As pick up trucks, Greyhound and tractor trailers drove past us, the lack of humanity on Christmas hit harder than the snowstorm of 30-40cm. We will never forget the one white pick up who stopped, asked what’s wrong, and said, “see you later!”. He had shovels and obviously a few bad elves who could have helped.
Being stuck on the shoulder also posed a safety risk with a tractor trailer missing us by a few feet before he almost landed in the ditch. We slept in the car after my many snow shinobi attempts to try to break the snow in jeans and sneakers, and were awoken three hours later by yet another request from someone for us to get out of their way.
They dug and push us out only to have us stuck on our third drift which they gleefully passed us by, all three pickup trucks and tractor trailer. This drift in the middle of the road was even worse and with our three quarter tank of gas, we started to worry if help would ever come as CAA Manitoba yet again told us to sit tight to CAA Saskatchewan’s horror.
Another white pickup drives by for an emergency snow call locally, and stops to listen but refuses to help us even with a push. We were sent angels though, and had one black SUV help give us a push, but it wasn’t until Darwin Drake entered the scene that we truly felt it was a Christmas miracle.
Darwin stood tall and strong as he offered to pull us out with his black pick up truck but our mini van lacked towing points. Lo and behold, he informed us ploughs were coming and sure enough ten minutes later at finally 11am were they clearing the 1 West highway from hazardous snowfall since yesterday. He wanted to get out of their way and mentioned he might return to check on us and we thanked him for his presence.
Unfortunately, the ploughs didn’t help as they shoveled more snow onto the passenger side of our vehicle which made it even tougher to dig out of. We worked as a team and were patient and hopeful that we would be saved. Sure enough, Darwin returns with a massive blue shovel borrowed from a local farm and start to dig us out effortlessly the many feet of snow. With great pushes by me and him, we were on our way. He drove by us again to make sure we were alright and we thanked him repeatedly for being our saviour.
As we arrived in Virden, the highways finally closed, we napped and reacquainted with the black SUV who gave us a push. As 4pm arrived and we were on our way out with highways reopened, we received yet another call from CAA Manitoba that they did not have any contractors who could come help us. I’m guessing Boxing Day shopping was more important.
As we safely drove along clear roads and felt blessed to be back in Saskatchewan where their CAA would be a million times better than Manitoba, we felt closer than ever and learned just how ridiculous one of my employers could be in asking that I still try to make it on Boxing Day even though I was texting her I was in a ditch with no help for hours. My second retail employer is professionally distant but immediately relieved me of my shift the next day so that I wouldn’t be rushed to return to the city which I wished the first employer had done.
Who knows why things happen the way they do. All I know is as our muscles ached from surviving the wild, and our minds exhausted from the dangers of human behavior, we felt loved and blessed by God for His angels who were the true miracle this Christmas.