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?

La Belle Province ... Montreal, Je T'aime!

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16 Responses to “A Holiday of Ups, Downs, and Scary Snow”

  1. Louise says:

    thats a close and scary call in the snow! glad you were OK, and lucky that police offficer was there to help

  2. Mike Holman says:

    I’m glad everything worked out ok.

    I used to think snow tires were a waste of money, but the reality is that the cost of the tires (and semi-annual installation and removal) is less than the cost of even the most minor of fender benders.

    Unfortunately, it’s just another cost of owning a car.

  3. Daisy says:

    OMG. That’s terrifying. I’ve been there – I finally caved and dropped $500 on some tires because mine didn’t even grip the road in the rain. I still won’t drive on highways during the winter, though! Glad you’re okay!

  4. Jeff Mitchell says:

    Holy Dinah! Really glad that you’re ok. I used to live in Ottawa, so I know the horrors of winter driving. You’re very lucky that OPP officer came along when he did!

  5. erica says:

    Merry belated Christmas, your holidays seem wonderful (even despite the loss you talked about earlier in the post- really sorry to hear about that). Your bf is wonderful I think you guys are adorable… I would love to read a post about your thoughts about financial goals and being in a relationship- have they shifted? do yu both have similar financial values/personalities? Do you feel you’ve had to compromise some of your goals because you’re in a relationship?

    I always thought it was illegal to not have snow tires in Quebec? I’m happy you’re ok and things worked out. His family seem like awesome people.

    • Money Rabbit says:

      Yes, it’s illegal to not have snow tires in Quebec … if you’re from Quebec and have a Quebec license plate.
      It’d be great if the government could throw us a bone and let us write off snow tires as necessary expenses.

      • Money Rabbit says:

        Oh, and I’d have to brace the BF for writing a post like that … he is definitely NOT ready to even chat about money together. But being in a relationship vs. being single definitely has financial pros and cons. If I were single, I’d probably go on less out of town trips, but more in city outings. Even just thinking of how I spent my money this past spring when I was single for a month makes me cringe a little.

  6. Potato says:

    You didn’t finish your story. What kind of winter tires are you getting now?

    And if you can write your car and associated maintenance off as an expense, you can also write off snow tires.

  7. Jessie says:

    I loved Potato’s comment – please, please tell me that you’re going to get good winter tires now.

    Keep in mind that you can negotiate for tires just like you can for a new car – shop around!

    • Money Rabbit says:

      If I knew for a fact that I’d have my car for another couple of years, I’d definitely invest in the snow tires. But since I don’t know if I’ll have it beyond the spring, I can’t justify several hundred dollars for them. I made it okay last year … it was sheer stupidity that forced me out on the highway. I should have stayed home and traveled the next day.
      Honestly, my car is one giant ass headache.

  8. Sherman says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for some time, and always enjoyed it … until now. You chose to include the news of your neighbour’s loss (from what you said, the result of an accident), but then knowingly drove to Montreal without snow tires?? What if you had of spun into one of those oncoming cars, and killed an innocent driver because snow tires are “too expensive”? I doubt you’d be blogging about that. I understand that it’s your blog, and you can present the facts as you like, but honestly, I’m disappointed in your decision to publish this story.

    • Iffy says:

      Now, now, I’m sure you have never made a single stupid decision but the rest of us aren’t that lucky. A cautionary tale like this could be useful for someone.

  9. Anna says:

    I agree with Sherman.

    It’s one thing to put your own life at risk. It’s another to callously put other people’s lives at risk (someone’s mother, father, daughter, son, etc). You’re lucky that this one silly mistake didn’t end up killing someone’s loved one during the holidays.

    My co-worker’s son was killed by a careless driver who didnt’ know what she was doing – please don’t make the same mistake.

  10. Christy says:

    My first teaching job was in Campbellford. We lived there for 5 years. It is a very friendly town – with only about 3500 people :)

  11. Country Girl says:

    I am glad to hear that you’re ok; there’s nothing scarier than when you feel your car start to slip and slide. I have four snow tires in my car, but I live in the snowbelt and drive close to 70 km/day. Even with my snow tires, I’ve had a few scary moments on winter roads where the back end of the car starts to slide out. Being in an area that gets a lot of crappy winter weather, I’ve learned that there aren’t many places that I absolutely have to get to. If the weather is bad, I just stay wherever I am.

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