This is more of a personal post … I’ll be writing about my goals, and financial finagling that I’ll have to do in the new year to make my back to school a reality.
The past week has been a complete blur, with some truly amazing moments, and some really scary ones.
Let’s start with the really amazing ones.
Last Wednesday, I had the privilege of doing a 9k trail run with a group of six ultrarunner men. These men eat marathons for breakfast. They have run (and won) Boston, Badwater, Leadville, and all the runs that make you want to crawl into fetal position. The Salomon store at Don Mills was hosting a Solstice run, with their elite athlete Ryan Barrett running the trails literally from dusk til dawn. Sarah, my running partner, wanted to join in for the first loop, and I was definitely up for the challenge. Unfortunately, Sarah was delayed and we had to set out without her. With a headlamp strapped firmly to my forehead, I ran misty trails alongside ultrarunning champions, chatting about my upcoming Ironman, and they shared some memorable moments from their own overnight races. It was incredible and surreal. I was invited to do more loops, but I simply didn’t have it in me. Next time, gentlemen.
On Friday, I went Christmas shopping in Campbellford Ontario. At the town’s only coffeehouse, I asked for directions to a store, and three locals chimed in with their own version of how to get there, most ending with “you can’t miss it.” In a town with a population that can’t be more than ten thousand, “you can’t miss it” is a consistent theme. I spent approximately $100 on gifts, which was a lot more than what I was planning on spending, but everyone loved their presents and it was worth it.
On Saturday, Christmas Eve, I helped my mom prepare for Christmas Day by cleaning. With six cats and a dog, it involved a helluva lot of vacuuming. That night, we were invited to the neighbour’s farm for goodies and drinks. This is one of those sad moments; our neighbour’s lost their daughter this year when she was hit and killed as she was walking. She would have been 17. Even worse, she left behind a twin brother. Sadness still radiated from each of the surviving family members.
Christmas Day was lovely. Mom and Dad gifted me with a humidifier (yippee! I desperately needed one!) as well as groceries and items I detest buying but always need, like Kleenex boxes. After a fabulous afternoon and Christmas dinner with my dad’s side of the family and maternal grandparents, I climbed in my car and hit the road for Montreal.
Here is where it gets really scary. My car doesn’t have snow tires, because they’re frankly too expensive. I can’t justify forking out several hundred dollars for tires that will only be used for four months, in addition to the cost of having them installed.
When I set out, the snow was falling steadily, and the roads were awful. However, I was assured that once I got to the 401, it would be raining. Which it was, until around Kingston, which is less than halfway from my house to Quebec. The snow started up again, and it was out for blood. From Kingston to Brockville, I was travelling approximately 50km/hr, tops. I had the four way flashers on as cars with snow tires raced past me. Big rig truck drivers booked it past me, missing my car by what must have been only a few feet.
Just outside of Brockville, the car that I had been following began to swerve. Since I had been using the car as a guide for where the road even was, my hands jerked out of reflex. As the car in front of me corrected itself, I began fishtailing wildly, swerving through snow and ice with the wheels spinning madly. Suddenly, I saw headlights. How…? What…? Oh. My. God. I am facing oncoming traffic on the highway. Luckily, there were few cars behind me and they still had a ways to go before they reached me, so I sidled the car up against the concrete barrier, as my hands shook uncontrollably.
In another stroke of luck, an OPP officer had been about one minute behind me, and without wasting a moment, he threw on his lights and came to my assistance. This wonderful officer made sure that I was okay, and assessed my car (no damage or collision). He asked if I wanted him to turn my car around for me. I gratefully accepted. So, he got me to sit in the driver’s seat of his cruiser as he did a three point turn in the middle of the highway. From his seat, I watched how poorly my wheels gripped the snow. It was horrifying.
He advised me to go to Brockville and get a hotel, it wasn’t worth it to keep going. Out of sheer stubbornness, I decided to try to make it to Montreal. 15 minutes later, I panicked and called in the cavalry. The snow kept falling, it was pitch black and isolated, and I was going at 40km/hr. I drove for another hour and a half before pulling off at the Morrisburg On Route service station, desperate for a bathroom and a coffee. I then waited to be rescued by my boyfriend and his dad, who insisted I complete the trip with them instead of staying the night at a hotel.
Ah, my knights in shining snow tires.
I only had to wait about half an hour before they arrived. We left my car in the parking lot, transferred my luggage and presents to their Volvo (outfitted in top of the line snow tires) and had a safe trip to Montreal. I was exhausted, scared, and aghast at how the outcome could have been drastically different.
In the end, I had a wonderful vacation with my boyfriend and his family. Exciting news: this Canada Goose is flying south in February. My bf’s present to me is a five day trip to Florida, to visit his brother, go to the beach, and hit up the Harry Potter theme park. I am SO thrilled!
On Boxing Day evening, we held hands and skated in the Old Ports of Montreal, trying to synchronize our strides as the speakers blared Viennese waltz in the background. It was a fantastic double date with our Australian friends, who have adapted to Canadian winters even better than I have.
Hard to believe that 24 hours earlier, I had been in the pits of Hell.
I’m back at work tomorrow, and since it’s going to be a complete write-off, I’ll be looking into correspondence courses which will help me with a second teachable. I’m going to call my alma mater’s registrar office, and they’ll help me make sure that I get the courses that I need. I’ll also research other one to two year degrees from colleges in fields such as journalism, publishing, etc.
It’s a LOT of work. But it’ll be worth it in the end, of that I am certain.
What were some of your highlights to the holidays? Ever had a scary winter driving experience?