One of the things that makes things difficult about living on an island in the Bering Sea is the monstrous wind. Here on St. Paul Island, we have an average of around 30-50mph winds, and that does not include the gusts. Right now, because of the wind chill factors, our temperatures dip down in the negative numbers; -20 or -25 lately. I know that this isn’t Fairbanks Cold, which goes to -40 or lower, but it’s still about enough to make you want to stay bundled up inside.
One thing that I wish we had been able to do over when planning out trip up to St. Paul Island from Michigan was our mode of transportation. Just a handful of months prior to accepting the job, Dear Hubby purchased a Ford Focus. Now we loved this car when we were cruising around Michigan; great on gas, it has the Sync feature that connects to your iPod and cell phone, and a spiffy sporty look.
Well, it’s just not the right car for the island. What you want to have is something that’s got taller tires the size of a Lazy Boy. Several times, we have found ourselves stuck in the snow drifts. It doesn’t take much snow to create a road-blocking drift around here, especially when your car is only about 8 inches off the ground. Our greatest fear is a snow drift. What the other folks on the island see when there’s a drift across the road is much different compared to our vision:
This morning, while on our way to school, Dear Hubby and I found ourselves stuck in a drift that was about two feet tall.
Please don’t ask me why we thought we could make it happen. Most of the time, we blow right through a snow drift when we have plenty of running room to let the ol’ V4 fly. The drift that snagged our car this morning was right on the edge of a giant S curve; not enough room to get up to a decent speed.
So there we sat, stuck as a duck in muck, when our principal and two fellow teachers pulled up behind us. Picture four adults trying to push a car through a snow drift and not one inch of ground was given up. At one point, we were told to jump on the hood of the car to add some weight and hopefully some traction would be achieved to get us out. All I could think as I clung to the hood was that Dear Hubby would hit a patch of gravel, thrusting the car forward in a jerking motion, and throw myself and the poor student teacher off the car and under its wheels. I couldn’t quite climb up on top for a Tawny Kitaen impression, so I had to lie on my belly, looking right into the eyes of my husband through the snow and ice smeared windshield.
Alas, all the visions of impending death and mangled limbs were for naught. We thought we were done for.
Luckily, our friend and island neighbor, Duck, showed up on his snow plow. We all groaned that we could have avoided this whole fiasco if we had left the house only 15 minutes later. Oh well. Lesson learned I suppose. Anyways, Duck offered to help push us some more, but his superior island-weather knowledge told us that we needed to bring in the big guns. Welcome the Ford F150.
Another island neighbor, Demitri, hooked up the front end of his pickup to our bumper and lick-ity- split, we were out.
Things could have been a lot worse; we could have slid off the road and into
the ocean a ditch, or worse. We were only out in the elements for about half an hour. It was an exercise in logic and appreciation for our friends who, without hesitation or fuss, gave of their time and body temperature. We are so grateful for having the friends that we do. I just hope the next time we see them it’s to break bread, and not a sweat in -20 degree weather.