An April Fool’s Like No Other

Last weekend started off like any other.  Mike was day shift so I took advantage and spent most of Saturday catching up on housework.  It was a nice day, the snow was all but gone and I took advantage of some nice temps opening as many windows as I could without letting the North wind blow in too much.

Sunday started off dreary and quickly deteriorated to a misty, plain ol’ yucky day.  The forecast said freezing rain was imminent but I was hoping it was wrong.  Once Mike got home we decided that Leslie and I would run into the grocery store to grab a few things ~ just in case.  I booked a vacation day for Monday, but somehow I felt we weren’t going to be going anywhere.

Monday morning at 5:00 am started our latest journey.  I woke to beeping and quickly realized the power was out.  We took a look out the window and saw why.  Ice.  Everywhere.  And lots of it.

ice march 31

During the day the weather went from bad to worse as the freezing rain changed to ice pellets and back to freezing rain more times than I care to remember.  It was evident that we weren’t getting our heat and lights back anytime soon.  Mike and Matt got the generator out and set up and we went into “Stranded at the Hideaway Mode”.  At least with the generator we had the necessities: fridge, freezers, pump (we’re on a well), microwave and various lights and electrical outlets.  Luckily, the router was plugged in to one of the outlets on the generator so we didn’t have to dismantle all that.  Marcus could occupy himself with his videos, and we still had access to the outside world.   Mike got the fireplace lit and we settled in.  We recently purchased a propane patio heater for our Abeebo which came in very handy.  We spent much of the day Monday (and Tuesday) sitting in our sun room cozied by the warmth of the heater.  As the temperature was hovering around zero, it made for a somewhat comfortable place to get a first hand view of the minute by minute changes Mother Nature was throwing our way.

ice march 31 2

Between the weight of the ice, the wind and the constant precipitation falling it wasn’t long before we started to see other signs of damage.  Taking a walk down our laneway showed even more how this was quickly turning into a weather event like nothing we had seen for many, many years.

ice march 31 3 ice march 31 4 ice march 31 5

Marcus, thankfully, was taking it all in stride.  He wanted to go out to play.  The amount of ice made me leery but he had it all figured out.

Marcus ice helmet

And the ice continued to build up.  Monday came and went and we woke Tuesday to much of the same.  Coincidentally, Tuesday was April 1st, but I don’t think this was a joke.  Our province was pretty much shut down.  Public transport was halted, schools, shopping malls, Dr.’s offices and government offices were closed.  Police were advising people to stay off the roads and the ice continued to fall.

Mike’s captain at work and his wife braved the roads and after cutting a few trees out of their path on the laneway they arrived at The Hideaway with gas for the generator and coffee.  Charlene had been saying all winter that she wanted to get out here during a snowstorm so she could sit in the Abeebo and enjoy the view.  She got her view, alright.  Steve ventured out around the property to snap a few pictures and after a great visit they headed back to town.

We spent the next little while sitting in front of the fire with books, music and board games.  A storm day wouldn’t be a true storm day without a nap.  Up the wooden hill I headed while Mike dozed on the couch.  I certainly didn’t mean to sleep for 2 1/2 hours but when I woke my world was totally turned upside down.  We went from an ice storm to a blizzard in the blink of my eyes.  Mike and Matt were out shoveling, the wind was blowing and there had to be 10 cms of snow on the ground and still snowing heavily.

ice march 31 6

Oh boy, this isn’t good.  We could get 40 cms of snow on top of all that freezing rain and ice.  This keeps going from bad to worse. If this keeps up my storm day after my vacation day is going to turn into day 3 home.  There hadn’t been school for the past 2 days either and Mike called off both night shifts as I’m just not “countryfied” enough yet to tackle the generator and fire (that has to change very quickly).

Although the boys were doing pretty well, considering, they were both starting to get on each other’s nerves.  Matt would venture outside every now and again, but having us all cooped up under one roof was starting to prove challenging.

When we woke on Wednesday morning it appeared Mother Nature had calmed down somewhat.  No one was going anywhere any time soon but at least the sun was peaking through and we could get a better idea of exactly was transpired the last three days.

ice march 31 7

The ice covered trees were now weighed down even more by close to 40 cms of snow.  The Island was at a standstill and somehow the clean up had to begin.  Where do you start to put 30+cms of freezing rain and 40 cms of snow?

ice march 31 9

There was a lot of work ahead of us.  We had to get things cleaned up so we could get off the property.  Being without power now for over 48 hours meant gas was running low and showers were high on everyone’s list of priorities.  However, in true Team Hilliard style we decided (almost unanimously…lol) that we had to do something that we hadn’t done at The Hideaway yet this winter.  Meet Harold….


Our first family built Hideaway Firefighter Snowman.  If only the video cam was recording during the construction.  We laughed more and carved and smoothed and destroyed and smashed snowball heads trying to lift them up than I care to admit, but it was fun.  Sadly, by the time this picture was snapped the sun had been beating on Harold for a few hours and he already started losing his eyes and mouth but it was still fun.  Guess now there was some work to be done as I had to get out to work and it was quite likely school would resume after being closed for 3 days.

Not too late into the afternoon the plow arrived.  What a sight that was!!!  It wasn’t gone very long when Mike and Matthew ventured down to the store to refill the gas cans and see the world beyond our property line.  My excitement was short-lived as I saw them arrive – by foot.  The laneway was horrendous with ruts of ice and packed snow.  There was no way the van was getting back up to the house today.

Regardless of all that Matt and I headed in to my sister’s after supper so we could get cleaned up a bit.  The main roads were relatively clear by this point and the snow banks were absolutely out of this world.  It had been years since I saw that much snow.  I don’t know how it’s ever going to get cleaned up.

Wood (or lack thereof) was becoming a concern.  All reports indicated we were still going to be powerless for a while.  That’s where social media is such a wonderful thing.  Ask and you shall receive.  My cousin’s girlfriend stepped up to the plate and had what wood we needed.  Thanks again, Krissy!!!  And thanks again to Steve for loading and hauling.

Thursday morning saw a little bit of normalcy appear as school was back on and I was headed to work for the first time this week.  It was a challenge to get ready using pots of water heated on the BBQ but we managed.  When Marcus woke and was told there was school his frustration with the last few days was easily seen as he responded with a big YES!! and a fist pump.  He was even more excited when we told him that he could stay for the After School Program.  “I missed all my friends!” was all he had to say.

When I arrived at work it was even more apparent that this was a storm that wouldn’t soon be forgotten.  Our lot, along with the streets were buried.  We may see snow until June.  This was the view from outside the back door at the office.




The power crews continued to try to restore power to many rural residents in the area ~ us being one of them.  We were so close to being back up and running Thursday evening but with so much damage and so many downed trees it wasn’t going to happen just yet.  We were all getting antsy and tired.  I went to bed Thursday night pretty disgusted but thankful that slowly life was returning to normal.

Friday morning was pretty much the same.  Marcus and I got out to school and work.  We decided that Matt would just stay put because as much as he was trying to hold it all together he was still pretty much out of sorts.  We thought at first having him head back to school would be the right thing to do, he really needed a couple of days home without all of us being constantly on top of each other.

At 9:00 am on Friday morning we hit the 100 hour mark without power.  It was a long week, but true to form, we made it through.  Even though we were cold, tired and starting to get on each other’s last nerve we made it through.  Hopefully today was the day we’d see The Hideaway back up and running.  There were less than 100 people without power and the crews were in our area.

At the 102 hour and 45 minute mark, I received a picture from Mike.  It took me a second to clue in.  This was what I saw…


Light!!!  Power to the garage!!!  What a sight that was.  Even though I was at work at not home I couldn’t have been more excited.  It was short lived, however.  Less than 3 hours later, I got a message that simply said, “Power gone again.”

Crash and burn.

Although it wasn’t totally unexpected, Mike was firing up the generator again.  This time almost 2,000 homes were without power again.  Thankfully, it was short-lived.  By the time I got home supper was being cooked on our stove and the house was nice and toasty warm.  Matt had set the table and even though you’d think it was the last thing we’d want to do, we ate by candlelight.  Our first real cooked meal that we ate all week.  It was awesome.

Instead of spending the evening relaxing, Leslie and I headed in to town to do a bit of grocery shopping.  We arrived home with a van full of bags and coffee, tea and hot chocolate for us all.  Over the past couple of days I was ok at getting the van up the laneway.  It was tricky and required some fancy driving but I did it.  The snow and ice was melting a bit causing the lane to be nothing but ruts, water, snow and ice.  It was a mess.  I warned Leslie that it wasn’t going to be easy and I hoped she wouldn’t be wearing the drinks she held in her hands by the time we got up the hill.  I took a deep breath and hit the gas.  We were 4-wheeling with the van bouncing around like we were in a dune buggy.  Half way up the hill I had the pedal to the floor but I wasn’t going anyway.  I wasn’t spinning but I just wasn’t going anywhere.  Ever so slowly we were advancing.  Talking to the van like it could hear me I guided it up to the point where I finally grabbed the gravel.  Please, please, please, please….just a little bit farther, c’mon girl, don’t let me down now, c’mon, you can do it, just a little bit farther.  We made it to the corner that I took at warp speed bumping all over the place.  By the time I pulled in to our driveway my heart was pounding through my chest, I was sweating like a pig and we were laughing like two fools, but we made it.

After hauling our bags into the house (but not before one broke and all contents landed all over the ground on Leslie) and getting settle we were finally able to resume our typical Friday evening bliss at The Hideaway.

It was an interesting week, to say the least.  I think overall, we all did pretty good.  This storm is something none of us will soon forget, but we proved once again that together, we can get through just about anything.  I have family that I am truly blessed to be part of and a hubby, especially, that is second-to-none.  He held it together for us all.  He spent 4 nights tending to the fire while the rest of us got our sleep.  He commented that normally his job is to put the fire out ~ this week his job was to keep the fire going.  Kind of ironic, hey?

Here’s to a quick turnaround in the weather and that spring 2014 will finally arrive leading to a summer of great weather.  If anyone complains about the heat or amount of mosquitoes this year, I’ll have to have all these pictures that I shared today handy.

Until next time…


About angeloftheisland

Welcome to An Angel’s Island. I’m Tracey (aka angeloftheisland). I’m also Mom to 19 year old Matthew who constantly keeps me on my toes. He’s our “special” boy who shows us daily how he deals with the world of ADHD, a Nonverbal Learning Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s my hero. Marcus is 8 and reminds me everyday that he’s in no way going to make the school years boring for his Dad and me!! I’m also wife to Mike for 25 years now. Mike is my best friend and soul-mate and he has showed me over the years, that yes – dreams do come true. Our life may not be the most exciting but there’s always something going on. Welcome to our Happy Place, newly renamed Hilliard's Happy Hideaway. I hope you enjoy what I’ve shared about our family.
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