2003 – Stuck in the Snow With Kids

In 2002 Oldsmobile was in the process of winding down, and being a fan of their latest products, I quickly snatched up what was one of their sedans at an amazing price; an Alero GL2 that cost me $15,500.  It was one of my favorite cars up until that point and I made sure it was well cared for, even going so far as to get the best stud-less snow tires money can buy.

On Saturday mornings I often loaded up my girls, Sarah and Samantha, and we would head up to the mountains to play in the snow and explore new areas.  At the time Sarah was 5 and Samantha 3.  On what was a normal Saturday morning at that time, I got up around 4:00 am and started loading the car around 5:00 am for the three of us to head out and play.  As normal, I packed a sandwich for each of us, water for the girls, coffee for me, along with a load of blankets, coats, sled and anything else I could remember was needed for playing in the snow.  At that time I was still married with my first wife, which meant that I could spend all I wanted on gas but had no extra money for getting food or other extras.  It also meant that the girls and I could be gone all day without being noticed as my ex-wife worked odd hours so she spent much of her Saturday sleeping.

We lived in the Cedar Mill area of Portland, Oregon so it took us 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive to drive to Mt Hood.  The girls and I had the tradition of blasting music allowing us to dance and sing in the car along the way.  They also read books and did what siblings do on a long car ride, they would argue.  Lucky for me, both girls where so quite I often did not hear them arguing until Sarah would let me know they had a fight and it was over.  To this day I feel SO lucky to have such great daughters who where my little buddies in travel.

As we headed out that morning, you could smell the morning dew from the rain showers.  The new car smell overtook the outside fresh rain smell as we got into the car. To keep it clean and looking new, the girls where not allowed to get themselves in or out of the car without Dad assistance.  They even had blankets down under their carseats, blankets on the back of the front seats and blankets on the floor as an extra layer of prevention for stains.

It was a good snow year up at Mt Hood giving enough snow for sledding, making snow people and snow angels, and on this day the roads had been mostly clear as it had not snowed in a few days.  We had made it up to our normal area to play in the snow and we did for a little over an hour.  It usually didn’t take long for us to get cold and the girls to request we start heading home or exploring other things in the area, so we loaded up the car and headed out.

Often we took I-80 to the mountains and Hwy 26 to get home.  We drove through Government Camp to view the homes and use the rest stop bathrooms then loaded up to head home.  As we started out of town I noticed a side road that appeared to have more snow than normal, so I made a quick right and started driving down the road to see if we could discover a new place to play.  After less than a mile the snow was over a foot high and my little car was needing to plow the snow to get through.  I knew I needed to turn around but the street was to skinny, so I kept going until I could find an open area that I could hit the gas hard in hopes I would not get stuck as I did a u-turn.  As it turned out, we got stuck in deep.

There was not a car in sight or a person to help, so I tried rocking the car out with no luck.  I then dug in my trunk to get out the shovel, something most anyone who drives in snow keeps in their trunk.  Before digging the car out, I got the girls out of the car and in their snow out fits so they could play while I worked on the shoveling out the car.  After a while I realized I was likely in over my head and there was little chance I could get the car out on my own.   I remembered that my new Oldsmobile came with roadside service and as luck would have it, my cell phone worked so I called the number and asked for help.

After greeting me on the phone, the lady at General Motors asked if I was OK and if anyone else was with me.  I told her I had my 5 and 3 year old daughters, and that we had multiple blankets, coats, water and a few snacks.  Then I proceeded to tell her how we where stuck in the snow with no one in site to help us get out.  She responded by asking if the girls where hungry or cold and if she could have food and blankets brought out to us, even offering a warm hamburger with fries for the girls.  I  let her know we where good, so she worked with me to get my location, then contacted a tow company to come help us out.  It took her a bit to find a tow company that would come out to our location and told me it would take up to 2 hours before they got there.  Once again she offered blankets and food plus made sure I knew that if the girls needed anything to call them back so they can make sure we would be OK.  I said my thank you and hung up, expecting to have a few hours of play with the girls in the snow before anyone would show up.

After another hour went by the girls started to get restless and cold, so I put them back in the car, careful to limit the amount of snow in the car, then ran the heat so we could all warm up.  While in the car I decided to try rocking it one more time and the car broke loose, so I pushed the gas peddle all the way to the floor causing the front wheels to throw snow to the side of the car while telling the girls to buckle up quickly as I was unable to stop until we got to clear pavement.

We got to clear pavement fairly quickly so I pulled over, made sure the girls would be set for our 2 1/2 hour drive home, then called GM roadside assistance to cancel our tow.  Thanks to some great snow tires, a car that was heavy over the drive wheels, a little luck, a lot of shoveling, and I am sure some Angels pushing the car, we made it out and headed home.

While it is not as exciting as some of my upcoming stories, this story does give insight as to how my “try everything” life always seems to work out ok on the end.

Have you every been stuck in mud or snow in the middle of nowhere?  Do you keep supplies to help you through it?

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