Snowbound on Vashon

Snowbound on Vashon.

Snowy cabin on Vashon Island

If you haven’t read my “About Me” you should take a moment. There you’ll read that I’m from Florida. If you read til the end, you’ll see that I moved from Florida to Alaska. So, I should be 100% on board with snow, right? Wellll…. it’s still got its learning curves. 

The difference between snow in Skagway and snow in Vashon can be summarized in one word: hills.

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Before we get into the terror that is a snowy hill, let’s soak up the beauty. 

Snowpocalypse 2019 started last Sunday. We hadn’t seen snow all winter, other than the passing drifts on the occasional weekend road trip. Seeing those fat flurries descend onto our yard was a welcome sight. But with the snow came wind, and with the wind came a long sleepless night. 

For hours, tree limbs, snow and hanging deck lights slammed into the walls of our little house. There is a tree that stands right next to the cars and our little cottage. Throughout those very long sleepless hours, and in between short dreams, I imagined it would fall onto the house and kill us in the night. Blame that on too many scary television shows and an overactive imagination. 

Eventually the wind died down, and we were able to catch a few hours of sleep, still alive. 

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For those who have never been in Seattle when it snows, it’s not your normal city. Everything shuts down. Schools, businesses, streets, banks, etc. For a city in the north, it really does not know how to handle wintry weather well. In our defense, the hills in rain are horrific. In snow, they’re literally disasters waiting to happen. Just watch this bus skidding around in 2010 to see what I mean. 

It’s no joke. 

So, just like every other establishment in Seattle, our office was closed. We took to the yard to roll in the snow, explore the woods and soak up the winter we’d yet to experience. 

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It was a welcome reprieve. The snow looked beautiful on the neighboring houses and decorated the deck and driveway of our own. We walked across frozen puddles, watching cracks form with each step. Eventually, the sun came out, and the couple of inches we’d received melted away. 

That was just the beginning.

On Friday, meteorologists predicted four to five inches of snow and warned all of Seattle and its surrounding areas to prepare themselves. Grocery stores were emptied of canned goods and flashlights. Streets were void of cars. As predicted, the snow began to fall.

And what did Ben and I do? Head right into the heart of the storm. 

I’ve been in the market for a new camera for a few months now. I found one on Craigslist for a deal too good to pass up. I had tried to meet up on Thursday, but the gentleman was too busy and only had Friday available. So with a big worried sigh, I agreed. 

Snow on Vashon Island

To make a very long, seven-hour story short, Ben and I left the house at 1 p.m., slid down a hill alongside other cars skidding back and forth. We boarded a bus and then later a ferry. We arrived at the bank, which had closed because of the snow. Thought on our feet and figured out a different way to get cash. Got on another bus for downtown Seattle. Sat in bus gridlock for a few blocks before deciding to get off and walk. Got separated because the bus started moving right as Ben departed, leaving me still on board. Thankfully reunited and set off on foot. Got the camera (YAY!) and headed toward a different ferry to take us right back to Vashon. Successfully got back to our car, bought the few remaining candles left at IGA and made the very very slow trek back home. Like 13 MPH slow. We’re now at 8 p.m. Seven hours later. 

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But we still had to make it back. up. the. hill.

This monster of a hill had been on our minds since we’d left the house that day. We’d thought about parking the car below the hill and walking up, not sure if my little car would make it. Well, it almost didn’t. 

We made it a couple hundred feet up that hill before the car started groaning and skidding. Ben had the foresight to purchase kitty litter and poured that beneath the tires. Still, nothing. I tried pushing. And, nothing. In one last ditch attempt, I started clearing out tracks for the tires with my boots, while Ben poured the kitty litter in. I pushed, held my breath and the tired grabbed hold and started to move. Granted, I was walking faster than the car was moving, but by golly it was MOVING! 

I told Ben if he started to get going to keep going. And he did. One more little hiccup at the top of the hill had me holding my breath, but the tired grabbed hold and Ben made it home. We ran down the driveway to one another, congratulating each other on our seven-hour journey and the climatic ending we’d had. 

Needless to say, we haven’t left the house again, except on foot. 

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Our favorite trail is almost unrecognizable. Tree limbs are heavy from the snow, and wind has caused some to fall over all together. But there is so much beauty in it. It’s a little winter wonderland, a new adventure to explore. Lily might love it even more than we do. 

It is beautiful, but it’s scary, too. The power went out Friday night, and it stayed out for 15 hours. The house became cold, as our heat is electric. Thankfully we have a camp stove for cooking, but we didn’t want to open any doors to get it. So instead, we snuggled in the warmth of our down blanket, sleeping until 2:30 in the afternoon. We read Harry Potter and cuddled with the pets in between naps. 

And when we woke, the heat was back on. And I was very relieved.

The entire island had been without power, and unfortunately, some still are. We’re counting our blessings in this tiny cottage.

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For now, we’re in the clear. But the stress is mounting again. We are supposed to leave for Chicago Wednesday morning to meet my best friend’s new born baby. My overactive imagination continues to evoke images of sliding down hills, not making it to the airport, spinning out in snow… Delta has already canceled flights for Sunday and Monday, so the decision may be made for us. 

All we can do is leave it in the hands of mother nature, and let it be.

Annnd keep things charged, grab the camp stove, pray the heat stays on and cuddle in for the remainder of our Seattle Snowpocalypse. 

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Thus far, Seattle has received a year’s worth of snow in one day, and it continues to fall. Wish us luck, and stay warm out there! 

Author: Elise Giordano

Elise is a photographer living on Vashon Island in the beautiful Evergreen State. When Seattle became too much, she set her sights on island life and never looked back. Today, she is trying to find ways to slow down through cooking, gardening and exploring.

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