Friday, February 15, 2019

Travel ~ When Mother Nature and the Travel Gods Clash

Time flies whether you are having fun or not.
-- Mary Engelbreit

The Travel Gods and Mother Nature are not in agreement  – you might even say, they are having a major clash in some parts of the world.

And wouldn’t you know? We’ve been in two of those places in recent weeks and experienced the clash first-hand. In fact I am writing this from one of those places now. . .

Off to sand and sun and tropical temperatures. . .maybe 
[For those new to our blog: January/February is when we leave our ex pat life in Greece and spend a month in our Hawaiian timeshare condo. After more than a decade of making this annual sun-and-sand escape to O’ahu from the U.S. Pacific Northwest, we’ve continued to keep this tradition alive by traveling from Greece.] 

Clouds were always somewhere on the horizon - Blood Moon
With the addition last fall of a new home base in Washington State, this year’s travel plan had us flying from Greece to Hawaii via Seattle. By doing that we could squeeze in a trip to our new place in eastern Washington as we made our way back to Greece.  

And we all know what can happen to even the best laid travel plans - especially when the travel gods and Mother Nature aren’t getting along. (I've also been reminded why hotels, when asking you to evaluate your stay, also ask you to rate the weather. Weather is a major factor when traveling.)

Wind and waves were strong - Ko Olina

Part 1: Mid - January ~ Hawaii

While in the taxi from the Honolulu airport, we had a foreshadowing of what was to come when our driver explained that a ‘cold front’ had arrived just ahead of us. It brought intermittent stiff breezes, rain and lower than usual tropical temperatures. We did have some nice periods of sunshine but always commented it was a 'bit cooler' than previous visits.

Plenty of lounge chairs on those chilly days
The real surprise was that the cold front settled in for the four-weeks we were there. . .in fact it is still there. It snowed in Maui this week and there were heavy rain and flash flood warnings on O'ahu issued as I was writing this post. 

Wind gusts uprooted a tree the day we left Ko Olina
The good news is that the winds and waves didn’t really kick up until after the crew, stars and contestants of  American Idol had come and gone. 

Let the show begin. . .
This popular talent-search show filmed a segment in late January (to be broadcast on March 3rd in the States). It was a flurry of activity for a day or two at Ko Olina, the resort on the west side of the island where our interval home is located.

But as if on cue, as the crews finished dismantling the stage and supporting structures, the winds picked up and heavier clouds appeared and kept making cameo appearances.

Storm clouds often ate our tropical sunsets
We don’t recall a time in recent visits that we’ve turned off interior fans and air conditioning but we definitely did this trip. The heavy rain – we had a few showers -- thankfully held off until the weekend we left. Sunday morning, as we departed, sandbags lined our open-air lobby and staff worked to keep the chandeliers braced against the wind.

 In time, this too shall pass.
            -- Proverb 

Out of the frying pan. . .into ‘Snowmageddon’

You know that old phrase, 'Out of the frying pan and into the fire. . .'?

Our flight from wind-whipped, rain-drenched Honolulu to Seattle – much to this white-knuckler’s amazement – took off despite the gusts bouncing us around for the first couple of hours we traveled over the Pacific. We safely landed nearly six hours later on a runway paved with compacted snow. 

A compact snow carpet greeted us at SeaTac

More than 200 flights were cancelled last weekend at SeaTac. Saturday evening conditions were so bad the airport announced a ground closure – it closed to all incoming flights except those already in the air with Seattle as their destination. Our Sunday evening arrival was to a snow-covered facility, the likes we’ve never seen before in our near 40 years of transiting SeaTac.

‘Snowmageddon’, as the storm was named and forever will be remembered, brought Seattle and most of Washington State to a standstill two days before we arrived. So much snow falling so fast and so late in the season had crews scrambling to clear streets and keep facilities operating. Schools, businesses and government offices basically shut down. Snow accumulations brought down powerlines leaving many without heat or lights for more than 24-hours.
Temperatures were below freezing.

To Go or Not To Go. . . .

The plan had been to head to Lake Chelan on Monday. We’d reserved an all-wheel-drive SUV ‘just in case’ there was snow to be dealt with on the mountain passes we now need to cross to get to our Washington home. Often times in the winter conditions on those passes are so mild that travelers need only heed a warning of 'snow tires recommended'. The two passes Snoqualmie on Interstate 90 and Blewett on Highway 97 are among four used by motorists to cross the Cascade Mountain range.

Luckily we had rented an all-wheel-drive vehicle
Monday morning arrived with news of another storm heading toward the state. To go or not to go  was the question. We weren’t looking forward to a 10-night hotel stay in or near Seattle especially when we have a new home calling out to us from Manson.

Summit - Snoqualmie Pass
We've both driven in the snow – it has just been many years since we had to do so.
The Scout, was driving and cast the deciding vote: We would go. Snoqualmie which was closed for several hours for avalanche control opened just as we reached it. We later learned it closed a few hours after we crossed it and remained so until Thursday morning. It received a record-breaking 31.5 inches of snowfall on Tuesday and a Seattle television station reported:

The pass received 68 inches over the three day period from Sunday through Tuesday -- and an incredible 80 inches (nearly 7 feet!) over the 5 day period from Friday through Tuesday. And it hasn't really let up -- the pass reported an additional 16 inches on Wednesday and Thursday. That makes a full 8 feet of snow in a week!

Streets of Chelan - we had made it home, almost

Road conditions on Blewett pass were also compact snow and ice but it was not closed during the storm.

Home again! Five hours after leaving SeaTac we pulled into our Manson neighborhood. A light snow fell here all day Tuesday. On Wednesday the sunshine was glorious. 

Mother Nature wasn't grumpy on Wednesday - a glorious day at Lake Chelan
We begin our journey back to Greece next Thursday. We'll head back over the passes earlier in the week though as reports are that Travel Gods and Mother Nature just might start throwing punches again next week.

Our road home on Wednesday

As always, we thank you for your interest in our travels and the time you spend with us reading our blog.  Many thanks for recommending TravelnWrite to family and friends – that is the ultimate compliment for a writer!!

Welcome to those new readers! We hope you’ll be regulars. Bear with me as I get back in the swing of the blogosphere. I took a few weeks off while traveling and during that time Google Blogger, has changed its format thus the new look of today's post.

Until next week, safe travels to you and yours ~

For those wanting some back story to references made in this post, follow these links:

Linking this week with other writers and photographers at:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday


  1. Oh my goodness! You two have got to stay put in Greece to recover from this crazy weather. Greece weather must seem positively tame in comparison to what you experienced in your travels. Stay safe!!

    1. Yes, we are looking forward to being back even though it sounds like we are still having some significant rain in our area. I'll take rain over snow any day though!

  2. Yikes, 8 feet in a week? I can't even imagine that. Glad you arrived to your home safely! We were in Hawaii a few years ago, and also had cool weather, and some heavy rain. Mother Nature has been extremely moody!

    1. She continues to be throwing hissy fits; we arrived back in Greece to the welcoming winds and rain of another storm front!

  3. I've been following your time in Hawaii and Washington on Facebook so already knew about the weather trials you've been facing! Reading it summarized here makes me say, "Whew!" and think that it's time to get back to Greece although, as you say, they've had some weather issues, too. It is winter everywhere this year, it seems, unless you go to the southern Caribbean or South Pacific, perhaps? Wish I could be somewhere warm instead of in Indiana!

    1. I would also like to be warm again. Can't believe we have both the furnace and electric heaters on in Greece and are still cold inside. What a strange year!

  4. Yikes! You had more than your share of crazy weather! Who would have thought it would be so severe in Hawaii? And then Snowmageddon? I moved to the south after living in New England my whole life so that I would never have to see another flake, lol!

    1. Washington State did remind me why we moved to Greece! ;-)

  5. Wow - what a surprise. But beautiful!

  6. Crazy weather! You really did go from the frying pan into the fire. I loved your photos and felt distinctly wind swept and chilly. I hope the weather has improved now you're home in Greece - must be getting into Spring?

    1. Arrived at home in Greece just before another storm hit here - high wind and pounding rain. . .I need to get rid of my bad weather juju!!

  7. Wow, you are traveling to go from Greece to Hawaii and then to Washington state. I think I would have stayed in Hawaii, the snow is not my favorite thing. I wish you safe and happy travels. Enjoy your day, have a great weekend ahead!

    1. Well, if we didn't again have a house in Washington and if we hadn't needed to get official documents for our residency permit renewal process in Greece, we likely would have skipped Washington and come to Hawaii from the other direction. Thanks for visiting Eileen!

  8. Just playing catch-up with the blog and today, 23rd Feb here in our part of the UK, the temp is 15 degrees C. The sun is shining and it's like Spring. We had half a day of snow and severe frost a week ago when temps were at zero. This is so crazy. We expect bad weather at this time of year. Take care and stay safe. xx

    1. Well Oceanika struck on Saturday in Greece leaving snowfall in the northern part of the country and bringing high winds and heavy rain to our part of the country. We've been housebound since arriving -- I am thinking that might be our state of being no matter where we are these days!

    2. Think positive!! It can't last. Soon be spring xx

  9. The weather has been so crazy this winter. We were getting those same much colder than usual temps here in Scottsdale AZ, too -- and the other day, we got snow! I hadn't heard that Maui got snow -- so strange. Glad to hear that you don't let a little (or lot) of snow change your plans and you made it to your Washington home.

  10. So many weather extremes and you can't help but reflect on the awesome forces of nature and their impact on us mere mortals. Having lived in Montana for many years, I remember many white-knuckle drives across mountain passes in both Washington and Montana, not only contending with the snow and ice but also the disorientation from blowing snow and decreased visibility, not to mention the stomach lurching moments when I'd see the drops to valleys far below, just beyond those flimsy-looking guardrails! Let me guess, were you clutching the passenger door handle with your foot stretched out on the imaginary brake pedal? 😁

  11. I will say it one more time. I do not miss Boston weather and it sounds like you got the whole enchilada. I am sure l have lost my ability to drive in the snow too. Bet it made you appreciate Greece a little more. Hope the weather gets better :-). I will keep using Fede because l have trouble with the captcha stuff.

    1. Okay..never mind. A lot easier using Blogger :-)


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