A Memorable Thanksgiving
It was Thanksgiving Day, October 13 1969, and I was home from Vancouver and Sandy and Frank were home from Invermere. Sandra was pregnant and due at the end of the month but in good spirits and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner on the Sunday as I was going back with them to Invermere and Frank had to teach on Tuesday.
We had a good breakfast, loaded the car and got underway about 9 am. It was 188 miles to Revelstoke and we got there just before 1 pm. However by the time we got to Revelstoke it was snowing hard and the roads were becoming very slippery. Visibility was extremely poor and we slowed to almost a crawl.
Frank and Sandra had a brand new 1969 Toyota Corolla and it did well in the snow plus we had a lot of luggage so were weighted down and Frank had been smart to put snow tires on before they left Invermere. A few miles up the road and Frank pulled over to put on the chains.
We had to go from Revelstoke to Golden and take the turnoff to Radium Hot Springs and down to Invermere. It did not take long for us to be overwhelmed with the amount of snow coming down. The wipers could barely keep up and I could tell that Frank was nervous.
A few minutes later a snow plow came up behind us and Frank pulled over to the side of the road. The driver got out and came to the window and told Frank to get in behind him and stay there until he flashed his lights….meaning that he was turning around.
We stayed in this formation for several miles and then it was time for the snow plow to go back the other way and we were on our own again. By now there was at least six inches of snow on the ground making driving very treacherous.
It was 91 miles from Revelstoke to Golden and a further 65 miles from Golden to Radium Hot Springs and about 10 miles to Invermere. On a good day the whole trip should have taken about six and a half hours but this was not a good day.
At one point the snow was so thick that Frank suggested I drive and he would walk beside the car and clean the windshield and make sure we were still on the road. I said no, I would walk it and so we pulled over.
Frank found his good gloves and took off his coat and made me put it on. I had a toque, his good gloves, two coats, and two scarves (one around my neck and one over my face. I tucked my pants into my boots and stepped out into the swirling snow and began a very long and cold walk beside the car. I cleaned the windshield and kept my feet on the gravel so Frank could stay behind me. We stopped every so often for a cup of hot coffee and something to eat and then it was off down the highway. I remember wondering where all the other traffic was because we never saw another car in either direction. We didn’t know it until we got to Golden but shortly after we started out, they closed the highway in both directions…Just us out there on our own!
Finally luck was with us and two snow plows appeared on the horizon. A highway worker ran towards us and waved a flag to stop. The one snow plow was turning around to head back to Golden and we again got in behind him and stayed close. I was so cold my teeth were chattering. That large thermos of hot coffee came in handy as it warmed me up in no time. The turkey sandwiches tasted pretty good too! We stayed with the snowplow all the way into Golden but it was slow going…we didn’t mind. We started singing Christmas carols to pass the time!
We pulled into Golden about 7 pm…6 hours after we left Revelstoke We stopped for a bathroom break and let Frank eat those delicious sandwiches and have a hot cup of coffee and by 7:30 pm we were off again. The snow had stopped and we were able to make better time. One and a half hours later at 9:00 pm we saw the first lights of Radium and cheered loudly. Another ten miles and we were finally home.
We were all grateful to arrive home safe and sound and phoned Mom and Dad who were worried sick as they had not heard from us. For once in my life I was so grateful to Mom for packing so many sandwiches and cookies and cake and that large thermos jug of coffee for us. It literally saved our lives in that freezing cold.
What should have been a 6 1/2 hour trip took a little more than 12 hours without the time difference to get from Oliver to Invermere. It was a trip we never forgot and 11 days later on Oct 24th Sandra gave birth to their first child, Angela Marie!
It was a very scary trip but all in all we were together and kept Frank’s spirits up and Sandy’s and mine too. Sandy always said that the trip home hurried Angie’s arrival a week early!!