The Blizzard (a guest post by Paul Curran)

So you probably know I’m with Mister in Bangalore, where the roads are busy, the food is sumptuous, the weather is wonderful and the internet connection really crappy. So much so that this post, which was supposed to reach you on Christmas, will probably be read next year. (Yeah I hate that joke but just couldn’t resist it!)

I’m living in an apartment with Mister, Giggles, Fartsypants, and PepTalk – it’s kinda like living in a Friends episode – and I’m loving it. But more about that later.

First, a long overdue post about a blizzard my friend Paul once got stuck in, in his own words. You know him through the discussions that he triggers on my otherwise drab blog posts. Yeah, that Paul. I had been hounding him to write a guest post for me – and when he did, I made him wait an entire month before I finally posted it.

So without further dilly-dallying, I bring to you the story of a blizzard and a rare form of camaraderie – one that my friends and I share despite the madness and the odd situations we find ourselves in. Thankfully there’s never been a blizzard – I don’t know if we’d survive that.

You will love it!


The Blizzard

– by Paul Curran

The huge steel doors the size of a two story building slowly raised upwards as snow swirled into the ferry. The ramp, as wide as two tractor trailers and 20 feet long, lowered into place between the dock and the ferry. We had arrived at Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. The four rows of tractor- trailers stowed neatly in lines about 20 units long on the bottom deck began to move forward as directed by the ship’s staff. Cars began to unload overhead on a second ramp from the upper deck. The snow was swirling thickly in a high wind from the west obscuring most of the dock and the terminal as I thumped my tractor-trailer across the ramp. My delivery of mixed produce from Boston was on the far side of the island in St. John’s – 565 miles from here, normally an overnight drive.

The Ferry in Good Weather
The Ferry in Good Weather (image from hickerphoto.com)

Most of the drivers were turning right into the large parking lot, obviously not willing to risk the weather on the highway. There they could safely sit out the storm with access to commercial fuel and a restaurant in which to eat. They all had sleeper berths and could idle their trucks and stay warm. The downtown was also only a short distance and one could have pizza or other fast food delivered right to the truck if so desired. I drove straight ahead and pulled up to the Esso fuel station on the dock. Using my key to activate the fuel pump, I filled my two 120 gallon fuel tanks – it was never a good idea to set out across Newfoundland in the winter with anything less than full tanks.

The weatherman was predicting a heavy snowfall of 6-10 inches – a workable amount for driving, not fun but a loaded truck has excellent traction and is normally only limited in travel by visibility. In the mountainous area of the west coast of Newfoundland the weather changes very quickly and a storm on one side of a hill could be clear skies on the other side. With that in mind, I set off towards St. John’s. The visibility was very poor but by driving slowly I could still get glimpses of the edge of the road. Being a two lane road I could feel the crown of the road in the tilt of the truck, so I knew I was on the right side.

The Road Disappearing (http://www.mprnews.org/story/2012/02/29/photos-duluth-blizzard)
The Road Disappearing (image from mprnews.org)

The wind picked up and the snow got heavier – fingers of snow growing across the road in drifts as if a great fist were trying to grasp and strangle the pavement to cut off all traffic. I was part way through the Wreckhouse (a local stretch of road known for its high winds), and thankfully the wind was still from the west, off the ocean and towards the coastal mountains. Had it been from the other direction the Wreckhouse would have been impassable. However, a wind from the ocean brought a lot of moisture and hence a lot of snow. Still the intensity of the storm increased and I was loosing visibility in waves- now you see the road, now you don’t. This was getting dangerous. I engaged the four-way flashers to make my truck more visible as I slowed to 15 mph and turned on the fog lights which were mounted low in the bumper and increased vision somewhat in the storm.

Creeping along now through what had become a blizzard; I knew that I would get no further than the 24 hour restaurant/service station in the town of Doyles – about 5 more miles up the road. Time would be better spent sleeping so I could be fresh and ready to go in the morning. 30 minutes later, the lights of the station glimmered through the screaming wind and snow. There was an empty parking spot right up in front of the station and about 40 feet from the door as I pulled in and stopped. It was flat here, so I only applied the tractor brakes – in this weather trailer brakes would freeze on hard once they cooled, so it was best to leave them off. There were about 10 other loaded tractor-trailers that I recognized from the ferry – drivers with whom I travelled this road regularly. Turning up the idle on the engine so it wouldn’t be damaged by running a long time without moving, I grabbed my coat, ran to the restaurant, and stepped into the warmth and relative silence. The other drivers were gathered together in the center at tables they had moved together.  All had arrived just recently and were having a snack, intending, as I was, on sleeping here until morning. We discussed the weather as we watched the blizzard through the front plate glass windows and agreed to have breakfast together at 7 am so we could travel in a convoy when we left. After a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of milk, I retired to my warm sleeper berth for the night.

Irving Restaurant Exterior (https://lazydaysnl.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/spring-fever/)
Irving Restaurant Exterior (image from lazydaysnl.wordpress.com)

At 6:30 am my alarm clock went off and as I awoke, I could still hear the storm raging outside the truck. Standing up while getting dressed, the top windows in the bunk afforded me a view of a surreal white world– all the shapes had been changed by drifts of snow sculpted by howling winds. Dressed and ready to go freshen up with my toiletry kit, I tried to open the driver’s door facing the wind and it wouldn’t budge. I put my shoulder against it, suspecting the wind was holding it closed and it still wouldn’t move. Sliding over to the passenger’s leeward side, the door opened easily and I jumped out into about 2 feet of snow – not so bad. I walked around the front to see what was holding the driver’s door closed and as the wind and snow battered me, I peeked around the fender and realized that overnight a snow drift had formed so that the snow was piled almost to the window – 7 feet in the air. The whole bottom of the door, and all the way down the side of the trailer, was one giant snow drift. That was interesting. Looking up the road I realized that the Federal Police (RCMP) had set up a road block so that no traffic could get further than the restaurant. No plows had passed.

Irving Restaurant Interior (Image from tripadvisor.ca)
Irving Restaurant Interior (image from tripadvisor.ca)

Inside, I cleaned up and had breakfast and discussed the situation with the other drivers – the decision was no longer ours, we could go no further until the road was reopened.

And so the blizzard continued for three days and three nights delivering about 125 inches (about 300 cms) of snow accompanied by high winds. The drift against the side of my truck continued to grow until it was higher than the truck – 14 feet. From the road the whole truck was hidden and in its place was a huge white drift.

Parked in the Blizzard (Image from buffalonews.com)
Parked in the Blizzard (image from buffalonews.com)

The restaurant quickly ran out of food as they could not get any deliveries. So, with permission gotten by calling our customers, we unsealed and opened the loaded trailers and carried whatever food we needed into the restaurant in bulk. We found that between the ten trucks we had most fruits and vegetables, potatoes, chicken, turkeys, beef, juice, milk, cereal, flour and much more – a horn of plenty. Some of the local families also ran out of food and came to the restaurant to eat. Each trailer had about 50,000 pounds of food and we used only few hundred pounds from each load. The restaurant owners kept it open 24 hours for us and whoever else wanted to eat. They charged each of us only a few dollars per meal for preparation and charged the locals a discounted price for meals so the cooks, waitresses and overhead could be paid. We quickly discovered that the small town of only a hundred people or so, had a liquor store open within walking distance and soon the whiskey and beer flowed freely – this we paid for, and kept it reasonable by policing our own. To top it all off, there was a juke box in the restaurant and the owners opened it up so we could continue to play songs for free. Soon a good crowd was bringing their own booze and a party got started.

A Feast of Plenty (image from wikipedia)
A Feast of Plenty (image from wikipedia)

After three days the blizzard abated and the sun came out, although the temperatures grew much colder. The world became a new place with new sights all in white shining brilliantly in the hard winter sun. Sunglasses were necessary when outdoors or a headache would very quickly develop. It took three more days after that before the highway crews managed to open the highway and even then it was only one lane wide in places. A highway plow came into our parking lot and after clearing what he could, pulled each truck out with a chain.

Once on the road, we would find that the snow was so deep in some places that they had used bulldozers to push the snow down to waiting snow blowers until they found the road. It was months before all the roads got cleared back to the shoulders and in many places the snow banks were higher than my trailer and it felt like driving in a tunnel.

One Lane Open Through a Drift (image from lu.hio.no)
One Lane Open Through a Drift (image from lu.hio.no)

It was rather sad leaving the little group of people with whom we had been stranded and had befriended. And so after our good-byes, we all headed out into a world that was slowly returning to normal.


As my days in Bangalore come to an end, I’m dreading returning to normal. Would you feel the same way after an out-of-the-ordinary few days? Have you ever formed friendships in strange circumstances or been stuck in a blizzard? Oh – and what do you think of Paul’s writing? Should he start a blog?

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anawnimiss

Blogger. Crazy bitch. Stalkee. Weirdo magnet. Wannabe housewife. Corporate Slave. Find me at anawnimiss.wordpress.com!

62 thoughts on “The Blizzard (a guest post by Paul Curran)”

  1. That’s a great story of ‘community support’ during the cold misery of our storms.
    You know what, Paul, better you than me on those gad-awful roads. The last time I blew by a semi during a semi-blizzard, I went flying off the roads toward a bunch of pine trees. Good thing they’re soft wood, eh? ar. ar. ar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Robyn it’s a good thing you have a sense of humor. Thanks so much for dropping by for a read. It was a different world in Nfld back then. The population was so low and the distances so great that there was a sense of camaraderie that was very strong. The owners of the loads didn’t even hesitate – you need the food, use it, no charge. Anyway, so glad you enjoyed the story. have a great New Year Robyn!

      Like

  2. Ana – Thank you so much for the opportunity to guest post on your blog. It is an honor to be here. I hope your time with Mister is going well, I know you missed him greatly. Over here we have just passed the Christian holiday of Christmas and will be celebrating our New Years later this week. It is a time of holidays and parties and visiting. All Good. thanks again and I wish you and Mister a wondeful New Year.

    Like

  3. Reblogged this on Idiot Writing and commented:
    Classic story of humanities connectedness in humanities unexpected moments together, written by our blogless Paul! With snow and blizzards… always wanted to get stuck in a blizzard (I REALLY do not know why!!??) … having had no taste of snow yet this year – I enjoyed the idea of waking up to snow drifts …

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    1. Hi Belinda! thanks so much for dropping by for a read. This was the worst snow storm I’ve ever encountered. It’s exciting when you are safe, but when you’re stranded alone it can be deadly. And of course it’s always nice to be stranded with an open liquor store – Ha!

      We haven’t had much snow here this year either, yet. I hope you get your wish of rising to snow drifts – and of course having a snow day. I’m pleased you enjoyed the story Belinda. thank You.

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        1. When you’re trucking in desolate places, it always feels safe when others are around or you arrive at a restaurant or fuel station. Any place where help is available feels good. generally, When possible, we used to travel in pairs in case of emergencies.

          Have a great day Belinda!

          Like

    2. Loving the sound of Blogless Paul!
      And I can’t believe you willingly want to be stuck in a blizzard! I mean, I’d love to wake up to snow on my windowsill, but that’s about it for me!

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  4. Oh man… I love this… I love the Bangalore lead in… Hello, anawnimiss! A blizzard is just a word to me. I mean, I’ve seen snow, but this sounds crazy. I can’t really wrap my head around being trapped for that long by weather. In my mind, that seems more like a Natural disaster if you are locked in place. And good story telling as usual… And 120 gallon gas tanks…wow…

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    1. Hey Art! Thanks so much for dropping by for a read and i’m really glad you enjoyed the story. That blizzard was the worst that I have ever seen or been trapped in. In Newfoundland, most folks just take it for granted that they may be cut off for a few days from any civilization. This one was one of the worst. It was mind boggling. i was so glad that i ended up “trapped’ where there was food and booze and dancing and a warm place to sleep (my sleeper). Most long-haul trucks carry between 180 and 240 US galons of fuel. I had 240 gallons of capacity, but it goes fast. My truck used to burn about 1 1/2 gallons per hour just idling for heat. We were there for a total of 6 days so that was over 200 gallons burnt. I had to fuel before I went anywhere. Thankfully there was fuel there – it was expensive so I put in enough to get me to the next commercial fuel station where I filled again. Under conditions like that I rarely shut the truck off – if it refused to start i’d be screwed. new truicks now are often ordered with auxillary heaters – a small diesel engine mounted on the frame that keeps the big engine and cab warm and provides electricity and keeps the batteries charged. They aren’t cheap – about $3,000 plus maintenace costs – but they sip fuel – maybe an 1/8 of a gallon an hour. Long payback but a better way to work.

      Anyway, I am honored by your visit – thank you again.

      Like

  5. Another tale well told, Paul. I have been caught in a blizzard before, but not for three days at a truck stop. Brrr. Makes me shiver just thinking about it. Or maybe it’s that it’s only 46 degrees here in San Francisco right now.

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    1. H Doob! Thanks so much for coming all the way to India to read my post. Ha! Sorry about the delay in answering you but Ana moderates because she’s had troll issues, but she is currently visiting her husband in Bangalore, where there is little internet. Anyway, getting starnded in a truck is a lot more comfortable than in a car. My tractor had a two bunk beds in the sleeper along with enough room to stand up (about 7 foot of head room), a closet, a fridge, tinted skylights, a table, a control panel for the engine (so I could turn the engine off or on and adjust rpm without getting out of bed), a 1500 watt stereo, wall to wall carpet, royal blue diamond tuck upholstery (inculding the ceiling), digital alarm clock, temperature controls ( for both heat and a/c), etc. ha! Not exactly roughing it.

      Of course I was paid percentage so I was burning fuel and time without earning a dime – but at least I was safe.

      Thanks so much for the visit Doob!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey Doob, thank you for visiting, and for the patience. I really appreciate it. Sorry you had to wait this long for your comment to appear! As Paul explained, I have moderation on because of the crazies that visit this blog looking for lesbian stories and leave solicitation messages. But I moderate only the first two comments, so you should be fine from your next comment on, which I hope will be soon! 🙂

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  6. What a great story of folks pulling together, Paul! While I have never been in THIS much snow, one of the years I lived in Switzerland was very snowy. So much so that many ski resorts were closed because of avalanches — actual and expected. There were chalets up the (smaller) Jura mountains behind where we lived where the folks had to dig out from the 2nd floor and work there way down from above. It was something!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for dropping by Elyse! That would be a sight to see – climbing out the 2nd floor window. The drifts in the Blizzard were over the top if the trailer – which is about 14 feet high, but the leeward side was navigable. They actually had pictures of the storm posted in the restaurant for many years after. That was the largest single snowfall they had ever had – i just happened to be in the middle of it. I understand that the mountains in Switzerland often have large snowfalls.

      Thanks for the read and sorry about the delay on returning your comment – Ana happens to be visiting her husband in an area without internet and she moderates because of trolls.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! I’ll have to add a link to one of my posts about it. (I’m on my phone now and can’t). It really is spectacular. But it was long ago now 12years and i haven’t been back 😦

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    1. Hi Gibber! Oh, yes, I continued to truck through there for a number of years and always stopped at the restaurant in Doyles. they became friends. The locals hung out there and I would meet them occassionally. It really was a good networking (as the call it now) opportunity. I actually hadn’t thought about that Gibber.

      Thanks for read and i’m pleased that you enjoyed the story.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! You’re right DBA – imy life had it’s moments. Oddly enough, I don’t think I have ever felt boredom since I was a kid and even then very seldom. Of course, it’s not always safe to hang out close to me – sometmes things go flying. I recall clearly crawling under the truck one bitter winter morning in Maine to fix a starting problem, when they had an earthquake (rare for them) and a wrench I was using fell off the frame and hit me across the nose – blood went everywhere. Never a dull moment!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the story and thanks so much for visiting. I apologise for the delay in returning your comment but Ana is visiting her husband in an area of India where there is little internet – and she has to moderate because of trolls.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is such a nice story! It makes you want to believe in humanity all over again. Paul should definitely start a blog!
    And falling back into your routine life like clockwork is the worst. I got two days off for New Years and I did absolutely nothing productive, and I’m still dreading going back to college.
    Friendships in strange circumstances, yes. 🙂

    Like

    1. Thanks so much for dropping by GR. It is great to see you here. i am interested in starting a blog but I use an old laptop running XP andit does not have the power or memories to open and operate a blog. I’m saving for a new computer. Meanwhile a number of bloggers, like Anawnimiss, have kindly allowed me to guest post on their sites.

      I’m pleased that you enjoyed the story. It seems that when condtions are dangerous, that people seem to stick together better. I’m convinced that the cold and inhospitable weather here in Canada has actually shaped our society into a more colloborative form than it would have otherwise been. If your look around the world, you find that more northern, colder countries tend to be more collaborative, resulting in socialized health care, etc.

      Thanks again for the visit GR and I hope your studies go well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have often wondered why people are more selfless in the mountains than the cities, Paul. And I think what you said makes a lot of sense. The harsh conditions probably make everyone more aware of suffering and therefore more helpful.
        If something like this blizzard were to happen in Delhi (which is in the plains), people would behave very differently!

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  8. Yep, those pictures look about right – reminds me of our recent 7 feet of snow as well as past blizzards, during one of which I had to take my daughter for her scheduled colonoscopy. Thank heavens, my husband drove. We literally could not see past the hood of the car – very dangerous. But since she had gone through all that prep for the test, the medical center would not cancel her appointment.

    I find it especially amusing that one of your pictures is from our local paper, The Buffalo News.

    14 feet of snow in Newfoundland, though – that even has Buffalo, NY beat! Sounds like everyone made the best of it. Great post, as usual, Paul.

    Like

    1. Thanks very much for dropping by CM! It is apleasure to see you here – all the way to India to read ny post – Whew! i am honored. i’m glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, the Buffalo picture was the closest I could find to the way the parking lot looked during the storm. It is hard to find good pictures of a snowstorm – not many wander out to take pictures and they don’t come out well.

      I’m glad you tavelled safely to your daughter’s medical appt during your storm. I’ve had a number of those procedures and the prep is aweful. ha! I found a cure for making the prep better though. Along with the treatment for clean out, I also imbibe a bottle of whiskey – it seems to help 😀

      Thanks again for the visit and I’ll communiacte with you this week about another guest post.

      Like

  9. Hi, Paul. Happy New Year. I’m very late to the party but I didn’t want to sink my teeth into this until I had some quite, uninterrupted time. That’s a rare and precious commodity around the holidays.

    Amazing stuff. What year did this take place? This is all very touching. It’s enough to restore my faith in humanity. But didn’t this experience make you yearn for a warmer climate? Something less polar? Like, South Dakota, perhaps? Seriously, did you ever give a thought to relocating?

    Like

    1. Hi Mark! Thanks for the visit. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. this took place in the mid-eighties. i actually never gave any thought to relocating for better weather. I was born in Nova Scotia and have lived on the East coast in this kind of weather for all of my life. The only place the weather in Canada is substantially better is on the west coast. This magnitude of storm is a once in a life time event. It’s actually not very cold in Newfoudnland and they often get rain instead of snow during the winter. They are an island surrounded by ocean that is above freezing all year around – so the weather reflects that – lots of precipitation, lots of fog, high humidity and relatively warm temps given the latitude. They do get a lot of snow too, but it is usually wet.

      Thanks again for the read and comment Mark. I am honored that you dopped by.

      Like

  10. Any old fogie can start a blog; Paul is an original bloghopper, elusive like this word “blizzard” of which he speaks. Unless you mean the Dairy Queen Blizzard. Paul, I am not familiar with it. It sounds just awful. White flakes from the sky piling up until trucks cannot be driven. I would move far away from a sky like that. However, it was your job, so…

    What sounded like a terrible circumstance morphed into an enviable party by the end. A jukebox, food, and liquor are my three life requirements, and you had them all. And what a testament to the kindness of strangers that you all helped each other instead of getting testy and drunk and start brawling or hitting each other with bottles and stealing wallets and trucker caps.

    Like

    1. Hi Kerbey! Welcome to India! Yes, that was quite a storm. It sounds like you’ve seen some pretty rough truck stops. Whew! Scares me. This was a pretty small truck stop. I’ve been in Texas truck stops and many are huge because of the high truck traffic. In Newfoundland there are only two ferries a day that arrive at the island, so visiting traffic is limited. Nfld is huge but with a small population. Which means that there are typically only 20 or 30 drivers at the truck stop at a time (sometimes none). And we all recognized each other from previous trips. So there wasn’t any caterwalling – at least not much. ha! Because of the sparsity of population, the people are very kind and will help each other out in times of need. It is a serious accusation in Newfoundland to say someone is stingy or won’t share. Quite often individuals’ lives depend on collaboration in the fight against nature. This makes them very kindly but also very shrewd. Cantankerous is not unusual (it is a rough life) but help is always available for the asking. It is pretty amazing how people are drawn together in the face od adversity.

      Thanks for dropping by Kerbey. I am honored by your visit.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Ha! That they are – or at least were. i havent been there in years Kerbey, but they used to be some of the best people I’d eve met. I’ve seen myself arrive at a fish plant in an outport and the manager take me home with him for supper even though we’d never met. There was a crisis in the fishing industry some years ago and I haven’t been back over since, but I hear it’s not as good.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Happy New Year Paul No Blog!!

    What a great story Paul! I think it a wonderful story of compassion and people coming together. I haven’t been stranded away from home, but have struggled to get home and watched some terrific snowstorms. We had a doozy in1967, and another in 1979, I was pretty young for the first, and had the chicken pox so that really stunk, I had to watch my brothers play, and dig tunnels up to the windows to wave at me. But in ’79 I was a senior in High School, and really, really remember that one well. It was only a couple days to dig ourselves out, while waiting for the village to dig out the streets. There have been others, but these were record holders here in Chicago…

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    1. Julie No Blog! Welcome to India – so good of you to come so far for a visit I am honored. I can remember a few bad storms when i was young as well – but even then i don’t ever recall the Trans-Canada (the most important road in Canada) being shut down for that many days. Sometimes overnight or for a day but never that long. You guys in Chicago get lakeshore effects , don’t you? I’ve been in that area during some dandy storms and it was always the wind that was the killer – visiblity and difting and such. I don’t envy you that. Yes, it seems that bad weather and actually all forms of difficulty and hardship, draws people together. It’s a good feeling when suddenly everyone you were competeing with is now a collaborator. Thanks for dropping by, it is much appreciated. have a great week.

      Like

  12. Paul, another tremendous guest post and a great story – could almost feel the snow and hear the music from the jukebox, even possibly taste the whiskey. Fantastic stuff – give us more!

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    1. Hi Trent! Welcome to India! I am honored that you dropped by and read my post. i am pleased that you enjoyed it. This particular story evoked a very visceral response when it happened – emotions and reactions from the amygdala galore. The sheer power that swirls in a storm makes individuals feel very very little and we tend to take solace by seeking out little groups and huddling there. I’m glad that some of that came across.

      Thanks so much for dropping by Trent. I have a new post, “The Holy Rollers”, being published this coming Thursday, Jan 08, over at Cordelia’s Mom. It is a funny situation and I think you will enjoy it

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      1. I will get over there for the 8th… things I specifically liked about this post is the party atmosphere amongst a bunch of people brought together by a wicked storm… I think it shows the better side of people, who they are, and what they can be like under duress ie. we find our humanity. This is such a human story that you have told, indeed about finding solace and huddling together. We need more stories like this, and to remember that this is what we are made of.

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  13. Your snow village was quite awesome, Paul. And I must now cease to complain about our few inches of snow and blowing snow in Syracuse, correct? Well, I still only drive a slip-slidy Chevy Cruze.

    Like

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