Dogsledding is something I’ve wanted to try for ages. When my brother and his family were visiting last March Break, I did a lot of googling trying to find an excursion that would be accessible and reasonably affordable. (This is apparently another one of those times when having a larger family comes back to bite me on the arse.) Long story short, I couldn’t find anything back then and gave wistfully up on the idea.
You can imagine my delight, then, when I heard through Twitter that Calabogie Highlands Golf Resort was having a family fun with the dogs day on January 5. Look!
Fun, eh? Except we have company coming that weekend, so I got in touch with Calabogie Highlands and it turns out they have dogs pretty much every weekend, as long as there is enough snow. I was SO! EXCITED! that I booked us for the very next day. Beloved was mildly entertained by my enthusiasm – enough to agree to yet another one of my harebrained schemes.
Several factors conspired to slow us down, but neither a lingering migraine nor a sudden flare of sciatica nor a forecast of windchill in the neighbourhood of -20C were enough to deter us. We gathered snow pants and boots and balaclavas and snacks and trundled into the car for the 90 minute drive… except the car door wouldn’t close. I thought at first it was just ice – my Madza freezes up rather regularly – but nothing we did could force the mechanism to catch. After considerable angst and debate, we first decided not to go and called Calabogie Highlands to cancel, and then decided that the main roads would probably be clear and dry enough for the balding tired on Beloved’s aging station wagon (for which we have not yet been able to rationalize the purchase of snow tires, given that we will likely be replacing it within the the year.) We called Calabogie Highlands back to say we were on our way again and set out.
We were making pretty good time and had plans to stop for a quick lunch in Arnprior when we turned on to the 417 from the 416. The day was brilliantly clear and the roads seemed wet but clear. I’d felt the car waver a few times, but put it down to the gusting wind, but as we passed Kanata and then Carp, my knuckles were getting whiter and whiter on the steering wheel. We went from losing our traction occasionally to regaining traction occasionally, and by the time we were to the exit for Almonte I didn’t feel we could safely go any faster than 60 km/h on what was clearly a road paved by black ice.
I decided it simply wasn’t worth the risk. We pulled off westbound 417, looped around, apologized to the boys, called Calabogie Highlands to cancel yet again, and hopped back on the 417. It was less than a kilometer after that, headed back toward Ottawa, that we passed the SUV flipped over on its side. That chilled me more than the icy wind could ever manage, and we crawled the rest of the way home somewhere between 40 and 50 km/h. What really surprised me was the line of cars carefully following behind me at the same crawl, not one of them moving in to the open left lane to pass.
We finally pulled off the Queensway at Stittsville and placated the boys with a McDonalds lunch – and a still-shaking mom with a very large coffee. In nearly 30 (!) years of driving, and many many winter storms on the 401, I have never been so unnerved by road conditions. Tomorrow, two cars go in to the shop – one for a door-latch fix, and one for some premium snow tires.
Alas, the winter stretches long ahead of us, and there will be other weekends to pursue our dogsledding adventure. And in the interim, we do have a pretty fun yard for winter play.
It strikes me that I’ve had more vehicular misadventures this Christmas break than I’ve had in the last several years. Thanks, Universe, for keeping us safe and sound. And we can always try again in mid-January for that dogsledding adventure, right? With latching doors AND snow tires this time!
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