TacoMa’am, Tron, and I took our yearly trip back to Washington state to visit my parents. We also took a weekend sojourn over to Boise, Idaho to see Lyle and her family as well.

Things started out pretty good. Got to Washington on Thursday, drove over to see Lyle on Friday and stayed the weekend, then drove back to Washington on Monday. Monday night it snowed a bit, which is usually bad news for driving in Western Washington. It doesn’t snow all that often, and when it does the snow usually doesn’t stick. So when they got 5 inches Monday night that stuck around, I figured I’d better stay off the roads. Unlike Wisconsin, which is flat and full of snow plows, Western Washington is pretty hilly and there is about 1 snow plow for every 1000 square miles. Not the best place to do some snow driving.

Anyway, we decided to have a restful Tuesday and avoid the roads. Since we’d been in a car for 20 or so hours over the weekend, a day spent just relaxing seemed a good idea.

Then came Wednesday. By Wednesday afternoon there were 15 inches of snow on the ground. Driving was out of the question and most everything was closed anyway. Goody. Luckily, it got worse. Wednesday night the weather devolved into an ice storm.

If you’re unfamiliar with what an ice storm is, it is basically when the air up above a few hundred feet or so is still warm enough to produce rain instead of snow or sleet, but the temperature close to the ground is below freezing. The clouds dump rain, which gets to ground level and promptly freezes onto everything, covering just about all surfaces with ice. Western Washington has an ice storm about once every two decades or so.

The danger here is that trees take the brunt of this ice. In fact, they gather so much ice that they start to break. They lose limbs, break in half, topple over, etc. This creates a hell of a mess and a lot of these falling trees hit power-lines. The last ice storm I encountered was in 1996 when it rained and then got so cold that not only did ice freeze to the trees, but the sap inside them froze and caused some trees to explode. Fun stuff. That storm knocked down just about every power-line in the county, and shattered more than a few of the utility poles. We were without power for 10 days during that storm. Luckily we have a large amount of camping equipment and a wood burning stove, so 10 days without power was doable… if not pleasant.

The ice storm that hit the Pacific North West on Thursday wasn’t as bad as the 1996 storm, but it was close. As of today, my parents’ house has been without power for 4 days, and it’s likely that they’ll spend the rest of the week in the dark. What’s worse is that their business is also still without power. In the previous ice storm their business only lost power for 1 or 2 days. Once the power came back there we were able to hang out in the building during the day for heat and also use the large tub there to take baths. No luck this year. We ended up going up to Sequim to visit my Grandmother on Saturday, both because she wanted to see her great-grandson and because everyone desperately wanted a hot shower.

So now, Sunday evening, I’m back in Wisconsin with my family. We have power, heat, and hot showers, but there is a hole in my blog. I’ll not be doing any of my spotlights this week because I missed the Weekend Webcomic during the disaster and don’t have the energy to go back and add it at this point. I’ll still post something every day during the week, but my spotlights will just be taking the week off.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it.

Note: I decided to leave my camera in Wisconsin during the vacation because I didn’t think I’d see anything I really wanted to have my DSLR to photograph. Of course, because of this, I missed the opportunity to take pictures of trees with 1/2″ thick ice coating their branches. So it goes.

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