Outdoors,  Travel

What I Didn’t Say About the Blizzard

My sister K. followed Rip Van Winkle.

She moved from our hometown in the Allegheny Mountains to a camp in the Catskill Mountains. She stayed there for two years.

On Valentine’s Day 2003 (a Friday), our Aunt Sue and I went to visit K. Sue drove. She always drives. I am the bum who sits back and enjoys the ride.  Anyway, we travelled for several hours to the eastern Pennsylania border – the other state border. This predated that TV show The Office, so we didn’t know about Scranton’s specialness when we drove through it. We didn’t look for Dunder Mifflin. We listened to a trashy murder mystery novel, thanks to the Somerset County Library.

K. worked with guests at her camp in the Catskills. The camp hosted families from the New York City area for sessions each Sunday – Saturday all winter. Except – by the time that Sue and I got there on Friday, all of the guests were gone. Word on the street (or in this case, the single-lane road going into the camp) was that a giant snowstorm was headed our way.

That storm was the Presidents’ Day Blizzard of 2003.  My sister K. and I spent it with our Aunt Sue on top of a mountain in the Catskills. K. took me snowshoeing in the middle of it. Sue drank hot chocolate in front of the picture window in the camp lodge. We had a fun visit.

Sue and I returned home the first day that the roads got plowed. So – either that Tuesday or Wednesday. We took all of the interstates that we used on the way up, except that on the way home we saw dozens of cars buried in snow in the median. My own car was parked in Sue’s driveway in Somerset. My awesome dad shoveled both on Tuesday morning so that I wouldn’t have to on Tuesday night.

K. now lives in Eastern PA. K. and her husband welcomed their first baby – my nephew Peanut – last November. Aunt Sue is visiting them right now (with some of our cousins), for Peanut’s first Valentine’s Day and his first Presidents’ Day.

K. was my very first partner in crime for adventures with Mother Nature. My first best friend. I’d like to tell Peanut about how his mama and I rode with our own dad when he cut firewood.  We caught lightning bugs and watched out for snakes. About the many, many times that we camped together. About snowshoeing during the Blizzard of 2003. How it rained 2 inches the day that we visited Longwood Gardens.

Life gets busy. Peanut keeps K. very busy. I have had to share K. for a long time now. With Peanut’s arrival, I now wait for Peanut to share K. with me. I put this story out here tonight so that it’s, well, out here.  It will still be here, even if I don’t have time to tell it. I blog stories about my family so that Peanut – and my other niece-phews – can read them later.

Now – I mentioned above that Aunt Sue and my cousins are at K.’s house right now. Aunt Sue had to take a detour to get there on Saturday.  Because a few hours prior to their trip, the interstate that she planned to use had a whiteout. This lead to a fatal accident involving over 60 vehicles. This is the same road that Aunt Sue and my cousins will use to get home tomorrow. I’m sure that they will have a safe trip, but right now I still pray for their safety.

Most of all, I want K. and Sue to know that I thought of them tonight. Our weekend together in the Catskills makes me smile. Washington Irving had nothing on us.