I remember staying at the Kinsey motel....
There is no such motel. But we stayed there all the same!
Our friends, the Kinsey's, had invited us over for dinner and games on New Year's Eve. They lived even farther out from town than we did, and it was snowing hard, so we bundled up very warm for the drive over. We had lots of fun, playing board games and eating and laughing. Us kids were completely wrapped up in playing, oblivious to the changing weather outside.
The grown-ups were looking out the window. "It's really blowing out there. We'd better head for home right away," said Dad as he headed outside to start the car so it could warm up.
We didn't want to leave! It was New Year's Eve, we were going to stay late and have fun, weren't we? But in Alberta, the weather dictates many things, and even us kids realized we had to go as we heard the wind picking up speed. We got into our many layers of winter wear. As we headed out the door, I remember Mrs. Kinsey having trouble pulling it shut behind us in the howling blizzard. We could barely see the car!
Dad seemed completely fearless as we inched the car onto the gravel road. We could see nothing in front of us, absolutely nothing but a whirling wall of white. Mom's lips pressed tightly together. "Abe, how can we drive in this? You can't even see the edge of the road!"
"Look up. This is a ground blizzard, there's no new snow falling." He was right. The wind was whipping around the snow that had fallen earlier that evening, but the sky above was clear. We could see the very tops of the telephone poles, eerie and strange in the night glow of the blizzard. "I should be able to navigate by keeping in between the poles."
"But what if there's another car?" asked Mom, quite worried.
"In this weather? Who'd be out driving in this?"
For 15 minutes Dad tried to keep it between the poles, driving no faster than a slow roll. It was no good. We had reached the intersection near their house, less than a quarter of a mile away, and there were no more telephone poles. Now what? Dad put on his toque. "I'll walk in front of the car, and you follow me. We are turning around and going back, and I don't want to go in the ditch as we try and change directions." Mom scooted over, Dad disappeared in front of the car. All we could see was his black and white toque flickering in and out of view. Mom managed to get the car turned around by following Dad in this way, then scooted over to let him back in.
My little sister and I weren't dumb. We knew to keep quiet during this tense operation, but I tell you, what an adventure! We kept looking at each other and squeezing our mittens together to keep from giggling and hooting. We were going back to the party!!
When we pulled in, the Kinsey's weren't surprised. Mrs. Kinsey, as she bustled around getting out foamies and sleeping bags and blankets, kept joking about how the motel was open for business and no complaining about the rooms. Dad sat on the chair in the kitchen warming up and telling the story of how bad it was out there, when there came a knock on the door. It was the neighbors from 3/4 of a mile down the road! They had even better stories to tell about not knowing what to do, and should we keep driving or do we try to turn back, and keeping it between the poles until we hit the Kinsey's.
Nobody was going anywhere in that weather. This was turning into a real party! My sister and my friend and I had never had a better New Year's Eve, sleeping on the living room all together as the grown-ups kept talking in the kitchen about what a storm.