Driving In A Winter Wonderland

On Christmas Eve my son drove his family and me out to my daughter-in-law’s family for the holiday. They live in Blackfoot, Alberta and the drive took about three hours. It would normally be a quicker journey but we were slowed down by ice on the road part of the way there. Or, as Canadians like to say, it was “a bit slick”. We saw four cars and two trucks that had spun out and were stuck in the ditch or the median.

During our visit I checked on the thermometer that shows the outside temperature. This is what it looked like on Christmas Day.

Minus thirty Celsius is equivalent to minus twenty-two Fahrenheit.

Before we were to return, it snowed overnight. My son was undeterred by this and was confident that the family Jeep would keep us all safe and sound.My daughter-in-law had plugged in the car’s block heater overnight and the car started up with no trouble in the morning. As is customary here, it was left running for a good long while before we all got into it to drive home.

This is what it looks like when you drive through the Canadian prairies in winter.

We stopped to buy gas in Innisfree and I took a short video of the view.

As we passed Elk Island National Park, we saw a group of bison standing very still with snow on their backs. I wasn’t quick enough to take a photo of them, so you will have to take my word on that. We also saw cattle and horses outside in the cold, and I wondered why they weren’t inside in barns or stables, but I’m sure the ranchers know what they are doing.

We did experience some icy sections on the way home, and my son laughed each time I gasped. We went slow and steady through those parts, but there were some drivers who whizzed past us. They must have the secret to driving on ice that is hidden from the rest of us. I am happy that we got home safely.

I thought that this was probably as cold as it was going to get until I read the news last night. We are now expecting a polar vortex and the temperatures will dip as low as -40 to -55 Celsius with the wind chill. I am very thankful that we are all snug in our warm house. I’m getting my groceries delivered and I still haven’t seen every movie on Netflix, so I will be happy to hibernate for the next week or so.

24 Comments

  1. Wow! I think the winter prairie is beautiful, but I like the prairie in all of its iterations.Have you read the Willa Cather books? I think they make good winter reading, for those hunkering down times.

    1. The prairie is lovely to look at, for sure. I prefer to look at it through a window, though. 🙂

      I haven’t read any of Willa Cather’s books but I will add that name to my To Read list. Thanks, Lorna.

      1. It’s the time of year to view the prairie from a warm vehicle! Willa Cather is known for “My Antonia”, and “O’ Pioneers”, which is set in the plains of Nebraska, about 80 miles east of my childhood farm home. “My Antonia” is filled with people in her life in the 10 years she lived on the Nebraska prairie. The narrator is Jim, but it is now understood that Willa Cather was in love with the Antonia in her life. I think “Death Comes to the Archbishop” is well-written too.

  2. Your California neighbor got chills just reading this. How do things endure such cold? Plants, trees, animals, humans all should come equipped with blankets and hats and gloves. Sending you warm thoughts indeed. Enjoy your Netflix vacation! Oh, incidentally, we have more rain now. It has been pretty steady for about 4-5 days with more predicted and the Foothills are white!

    1. It amazes me how plants and animals survive this, but somehow they do. Thank you for your warm thoughts.

      I read about your rain. It really is feast or famine there, isn’t it? Stay high and dry, Mary Beth!

      Edit to add: I just found out that large snakes and spiders cannot survive this cold!

      1. Adding a bit more detail: I-80 in the Sierra, a stretch of about 70 miles from Colfax to the Nevada state line was closed due to heavy snow and the ski resorts in some areas were unable to open due to too much snow! Goodness, first real winter we’ve had in years!

          1. Oh my! And Dallas TX had 80+ degree temps yesterday, as many southern states experienced heatwaves. And, of course, that also brought fire concerns. Climate change has indeed arrived, in spades!

            1. Sadly I am unable to imagine most of our politicians being aware of anything but their own struggle to remain in office. I am jaded. January 6, 2021 was, and still is, absolutely shameful and disgusting.

  3. I can relate to your panicked gasps. I hate winter driving, as a driver and as a passenger. We feel lucky to be able to hunker down and wait out the cold and snow, but it comes at a cost: not seeing your family over the holidays. But it is pretty and we’re looking forward to some x-country skiing when the weather warms up a bit.

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