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Saturday, December 25, 2004


Depew Disaster

Ready for the Road Next time somenone hears me say, "Hey, let's drive up to Toronto for Christmas... it'll be fun!" please kick me in the tuchis.

Well, we haven't gone on a road trip with all four of us for quite a while, so I thought it would be fun. We hadn't driven to Canada in winter since 1998, so I had forgotten the catalog of ills that befell us for so many of those treks. I forgot just why we swore after that last trip, "Never again!" Why we had limited our driving journeys to Canada to a window of April through October, and why we had gone by air for our Yuletime visits ever since.

This time, our trip went quite well for the first four-fifths of the journey. We zipped through Pennsylvania in record time and blitzed our way from Corning, NY almost to Batavia quickly and without incident and almost without any stops. The weather was just fine, and there was no traffic to speak of.

Then a few miles south of Batavia, after about eight hours of driving, I was ready for a rest. We hadn't had lunch, either, so we stopped at a deli-cum-gas station for fuel and food. Sandy would take over the driving from here.

Depew Disaster As we emerged from the deli, things had changed. The sky was now menacingly gray and huge snowflakes were coming down in profusion.

Sandy got us to Batavia, then onto US 90 heading West to Buffalo. At that point I fell asleep. A few minutes later, I awoke to find that we were somewhere just east of Depew and not moving at all. Snow was piling up on the highway, ice was building up on the windshield, and visibility was deteriorating as we watched.

Route 90 SnowstormOut my side of the car, the scene was quite beautiful, but I was getting a very bad feeling about this situation. Nobody was going anywhere, and after fifteen minutes, I noticed people crossing the snow-covered grassy median to head back East. Not a bad idea, I thought.

Almost an hour passed, and still no movement. By now, it was 4:30 PM, only fifteen minutes or so to sunset. I thought we should turn around; Sandy and the kids wanted to go on.

Finally, traffic started to creep ahead. We soon passed the scene of a multi-vehicle accident, the mangled cars reproaching our stubborn advance towards Buffalo. Ben said they reminded him of the skeletons in the cave in an Indiana Jones movie.

Visibility continued to worsen as we finally got to Buffalo. The kids and I gave Sandy cues as to when it was safe to change lanes - there was no way she could see clearly enough. We were definitely not having fun now.

Somehow we made it to the Canadian border and onto the Queen Elizabeth Way, the highway that sweeps past Niagra Falls and on to Toronto. Two or three miles along on the QEW, as if on cue, the snow stopped and visibility became just fine. We had gotten away with it.

Official 2004 Jansen Xmas Photo It was all worth it in the end, as we made it safely to Peter and Sue's house in Oakville. It was great to see Sandy's Mom and Dad, two brothers, two sisters-in-law, and our three nephews and two neices. And, we got to pose in the Annual Official Jansen Christmas Photo, 23rd Edition, after all.

Two words: Consider Amtrak for such a trip in winter. Sure, it may take awhile longer than driving, but no stress, spacious seats, and except for Christmastime, winter trains usually are empty (for the most part), so you have plenty of space for the kids and everything.
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