We're back, and are we ever glad to be back! Not that we had a bad time at the conference, no way; it was the ride home that was the kicker!
I'll write more about the conference in the next couple of days. We had a great time. The preaching was great, the food was outstanding, and we had so much good fellowship while we were there. We got to see our friends from Ft. Worth, which was so much fun. I love seeing people we've known before and catching up on family news. The husband is a pastor of less than a year in Tacoma, and their church was just able to purchase their first building and is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary, so these are exciting times for them. We had hoped to go and see their new building, but time just didn't allow for it. We hope to make another trip down there in the next couple of months to see it, though . . . and of course, visit some more!
Back to that drive home. Snow was forecast for Seattle/Tacoma, but when we woke up Wednesday morning, there was just a dusting of snow in Tacoma and none in Seattle. However, the TV station was saying that there was more snow north of Seattle. So we decided to leave a little bit earlier than we had planned, just so we could take our time. We had already planned to stop in Marysville, where there is a Super Wal-Mart where we buy some groceries when we're down there (they're much cheaper there than here). We also had plans to stop in Bellingham, just south of the Canadian border, at the mall there so that Beth and I could shop at Christopher and Banks, our favorite clothing store. Beth needed to exchange a sweater I had bought her. We still planned on doing these things (and we did them), so we wanted to get started.
The roads through Marysville were fine. There were a few snowflakes, but nothing major. So we stopped at WM and did our grocery shopping. We got some lunch in the store and headed north. Within 20 miles of Marysville, the weather went wild. Wind, snow, rain, sleet, limited visibility. Wes slowed down, but we were still making pretty good time with a minimum of danger - the roads weren't slick. That lasted for probably 20 more miles or so, but not quite as bad as that first wave we hit. We started seeing signs that the storm had been through the area, though. The snow was much deeper than it had been closer to Seattle. We got to Bellingham, and Beth and I went in while Wes and the boys waited outside in the car. Wes was taking a nap, so we knew we had a bit of time. We shopped for a while, then my cell phone rang. It was Wes saying that he'd been listening to the radio in Vancouver and they were saying that there was snow there, and the roads, especially the bridges, were icy. Beth and I finished our shopping, and we headed up the road to our favorite restaurant in the area to get a bite of supper. Heading out from the restaurant, we thought, "Wow, these roads aren't all that great!" We just didn't know!
When we were 2 miles from the Canadian border, traffic came to a dead halt. This after driving about 30 mph on the Interstate. That cleared up after sitting about 20 minutes, and we made our way to the border. After crossing into Canada, it was an eerie sight to see almost no one on the roads. Even though the roads were snowy, we hadn't encountered any ice yet, so we moved along fairly well for a bit. Then we saw cars . . . and brake lights . . . snaking along in front of us for miles. This was the ice we'd been hearing about on the radio! Sure enough, the roads were icy, some of them just a solid sheet of ice. No slush - ICE. Wes inched along, keeping plenty of distance between us and the car in front of us.
We cross 2 major bridges on the way into Vancouver, the Alex Fraser and the Queensborough. These are large four-lane bridges, heavily traveled every day. The Fraser is a big, modern bridge, wide and open. The Queensborough is not a favorite of mine, though. It's narrow, with no barrier between the north- and south-bound lanes and a metal railing on the edges. You swerve just a few inches and you're heading into oncoming traffic - or they're headed into your lane if they swerve. Or slide on the ice.
As we're travelling along, we see the south-bound lanes on the highway at a standstill. There had been so many accidents and stalls that traffic wasn't moving at all. One man called in to the radio station that he had moved about 500 feet in 2 hours. We in the north-bound lanes were at least moving. The Fraser bridge (the modern one) was completely covered in ice. We passed several cars and trucks with tires spinning but going nowhere. Our van has traction control, so we were fine. The thing that made Wes very nervous was that people were driving like the roads were dry. They rode our back bumper, tore out around cars that were going too slow to suit them, switched lanes suddenly - it was driving him crazy, because once they started sliding, there was no predicting where they would go. Conditions improved some as we got closer to the Queensborough bridge, for which I was thankful. It wasn't icy, but it was slushy, and traffic was still slow crossing this bridge. I think I was able to breathe again once we got over this bridge! LOL The closer we got to home, the better the roads were. Crossing the final bridge before our house, we were moving at a good rate of speed, and there wasn't as much snow as there had been farther south. Here at our house, there hadn't been much snow at all! Overall, the trip from the border to our house took about 3 hours. It's normally a 1-hour trip.
We praise the Lord for His protection on that trip! Not only for helping Wes drive safely, but also for keeping the nuts who were driving like idiots away from us! LOL So we're glad, very glad, to be home. I'll be telling more about the conference later.