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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Frigid Travel: Staying Warm and Safe

Quite some time ago I made plans to meet with Jennifer Johannesen this weekend in Niagara Falls. Two things could be accomplished: first, I went to Niagara Falls for the first time with my son last summer and thought I visited at the wrong time of year. The Falls and Victoria Park would be spectacular in the winter. I knew I wanted to return. Second, I could see Jennifer whose writing you can read at:  Other variables came into play. I knew if we did not meet the next opportunity might not be until next May. I also firmly believe in a video project she is undertaking and because of this considered this weekend a command performance.  Screw the snow storm and dire forecast. I was going to Niagara Falls.

How does a paralyzed man prepare for such a trip? Actually the question should be how does a paralyzed guy safely and carefully prepare for such a trip. Basic logic. Watch the forecast carefully and improvise at a moments notice. I planned to leave well before sunrise on Friday for the six hour drive. No chance that will work. I decide to leave on Thursday morning before the storm hits and drive as far north and mostly west as I can before dark or snow hits. I head directly into the storm.  I pack smartly. Three pairs of gloves with glove liners. A spectacularly warm jacket I got from Canadian tire. A hunting jacket replete with pockets for bullets. A back up down bubble jacket. Two strips of rubber in case I get stuck in snow. Two blankets for Kate and emergency blanket. A good shovel and car brush. Warm clothes--multiple sets of warm cloths. Nothing is taken for chance. Remember I was a Boy Scout leader! I am prepared.

I plan to go as far as Buffalo but know I will stop well before if the roads get bad. Buffalo is ambitious and before I hit Syracuse I know I will never make it.  I aim for Syracuse. The drive is uneventful until the last 30 minutes. The forecasters got it right. Snow started to fall heavily and the roads were getting bad. Kate and I make it to the lovely Red Roof Inn in Syracuse--my stomping grounds. I hunker down and look outside. It is gorgeous outside. A winter wonderland.

Friday I get up early turn on television. At least a foot of snow fell and it is cold--dangerous cold. It is -8 f. and the windchill is about -30 f. My kind of cold. This is the sort of cold I love. My wheelchair lets me know it. The rear wheels quick release freeze and the metal of the wheelchair itself krinks and crackles in only a way only I am aware of. Here is how I looked before I went out.

I have my warmest wool hat on and feel like a marshmallow man. I am ready. Before I went to bed the night before I brushed off the car and still needed 90 minute to achieve the blow:

I get in the car heading to Niagara Falls by 8AM. Pulled into Niagara Falls by lunchtime happy, hungry, and tired. I ate lunch, Jennifer interviewed me and we went out to dinner in the casino complex. Yikes, a casino is license to print money.  I thought the odds of winning at the horse track were bad. At the casino the odds are worse--much worse. I also saw lots of men my age walking around with tall slender well made up young women. No idea how to wrap my head around that! I am happily middle aged and like women my age. No skirt chasing after young women for this old fart.

Today was tourist day. Walked around Victoria Park with Kate and went to a local rink where I watched some kids play hockey. Man, I miss hockey. My heart has just not been into it this season. Meeting up later with my friend Barb Farlow and her clan. All in all a great trip. Though I will confess I am bit sore. Being active in cold I find very tiring.  Head home tomorrow. Travel log over.


Alex Schadenberg said...

I am sure that you had a great meeting with Barb Farlow and her clan. Barb and her husband and family are always great to be with.

william Peace said...

Seeing them tonight. I am #1 fan of Farlow clan.