Sunday, February 3

A Winters Adventure

Susan has a competition with a random draw ending 14 Feb for a memorable winter story.

Her options as stated are to post a winter story on her blog, as a comment to the post or if you have a longer story, you can opt to post it on your own blog letting her know where to look, as I have done. Here is my winter story.

A Winters Adventure

Winters in Sydney, Australia were mild affairs. Only briefly would you turn on the radiator in the mornings before the sun warmed the day, or later in the evening or at bedtime to switch on an electric blanket. Those seeking a snow experience invariably headed for the Snowy Mountains, immortalized in verse by one of our most famous poets Banjo Patterson with his poem about a heroic stockman who recaptured the Colt from old Regret, who was worth a thousand pounds and had got away.

So when my mate Barrie rang and suggested a weekend away with a group to visit the snowfields I readily accepted and soon our young family was headed off one crisp clear morning in anticipation of a fun filled long weekend mucking around in the snow. We were to stay in a hall, not far from Cooma which was to be our base to travel up to the snowfields.

On the first day the respective families decided to travel together up the mountain in Barrie’s vehicle, encountering our first obstacle half away up when the slippery conditions dictated chains be fitted. But we soon discovered the chains were too large, requiring a reduction of several links and hence turned into a Service Station, waiting on a long queue behind those with a similar problem. Eventually the terrible truth filtered back through the queue of disgruntled travelers, this Proprietor was out to make a “killing”, believing $ 40 a minute was the going rate for the only man with “bolt cutters” in the region. So we reluctantly paid him $40 to have just 2 links removed, in just under one minute and then fitted the chains.

Slowly we inched our way up the mountain as part of giant traffic snarl, to be greeted on arrival by a blizzard with almost zero visibility. By then the children were all very grisly but we did mange to send them out to play in the blizzard for sufficient time so that they forget about their disapointment and begged to return to the nearby Hotel which we had all discovered offered warmth and comfort. Once we returned back to the hall exhaustered it was soon time to turn in for an early night and to enjoy a good night’s sleep.

What should have been obvious but wasn’t before the trip was the inevitable result of a group of friends all sleeping in a large hall, particually after consuming a number of brandies to keep warm beforehand, it was always going to be sweet snores rather than sweet dreams.
In the morning, bleary eyed, tired, yet hopeful I decided to drive separately and hire the chains for my car at Cooma from which point we would both head up the mountain. Unbeknown to us overnight we had experienced the coldest night ever recorded in the district, for the first time ever it had snowed.

I set out for Cooma which was only a short distance away but the conditions soon became rather hazardous, so I pulled over and decided to wait for Barrie. After alighting form from the car half way up a crest, my children and wife pointed out what they thought was an unusual sight. Apparently all that was holding us to the road was our weight; once we alighted, we all watched in horror the car drifting down the road from whence it had come, gathering speed until it finally came to rest in an embankment and was eventually halted by a cushion of snow and a tree.

Eventually help arrived and we fitted borrowed chains and were able to get the car back on the road, laboriously removing them since we decided the most sensible outcome (since all of us including the car were relatively unscathed) was to set out in the opposite direction for the more peaceful and serene surroundings of Canberra, away from any further experiences involving snow and ice. It was rather a pleasant trip back home, unremarkable but pleasing due to a lack of any real dramas.


Zee said...

You could have titled this "The Chain Gang" Lindsay!
Lovely story, hope you get the price, whatever it is ...

susan said...

Hi Lindsay - That was a great winter story especially since I never expected a snow story from Australia. An adventure to the Great Barrier Reef or a meeting with kangaroos would have been closer but then again, I live in the US and have never seen the Grand Canyon or Disneyland. Both our countries are enormous land masses and it's easy to assume things about other people's experiences that aren't necessarily possible or desirable in reality.
When I went to Europe years ago on my first trip alone from my home in Toronto I remember getting casual inquiries about NY and Chicago. I was 19 and the only trips I'd ever made to the US had been across the border to Buffalo as part of annual excursions to Niagra Falls with visiting relatives from England.
I loved the part in your story where the car slid back down the road as you all stood and watched. It was easy to relate to and a big part of the reason we chose to leave New England - getting up an hour early just to dig the cars out to go to work ceased being enjoyable. Snow is nice if you don't have to deal with it on a daily basis and you were wise to head back to civilization.

Gary said...

Terrific story Lindsay. And very well written.

I have a 'reverse's story experience, having to do with getting stuck in the desert and needing to deflate the tires to make headway.

I'll have to get my winter story in for Susan before the deadline!

grannyfiddler said...

i came all the way to Australia (which is having summer) for a story about winter? .... sorry, LL... just a bit tetchy. it's -40C with a howling wind here. ok; i'm not really grumpy about it.. its a great story. i always love your stories.... i'm just having trouble appreciating anything that involves fluffy frozen H20 today. say a prayer for my sanity.

Veronica said...

My husband and I laughed out loud at the line about the $40 a minute going rate to the only guy with bolt cutters.
Wonderful! Wonderful story! And thanks for turning me on to Susan, her blog is really good.