Saturday, February 13, 2010


Everyone is telling snow stories, so I decided I had better get mine in before it turns into springtime!  I'm safely at home now watching the heavy snowflakes fall past the trees... but last weekend I was not.

This is a photo of what we woke up to on Saturday morning.  It is a picture of NO ELECTRICITY.  It was taken from the inside of our dorm room.

We were at an important homeschool speech & debate tournament (NCFCA) in Pittsburgh (hosted by a club with the acronym of HOPE), knowing that some snow was going to come.  But being without television, radio, and the internet, we were pretty isolated from news.  When my cell phone rang at 7 AM that morning, I was groggy and confused to hear the tournament director say "We're still going to try and make this work, to finish the tournament."

"Whaaa?"  I asked.

"Well, the electricity has been out since 5 AM, you know!?!"

No, I didn't.  But I was frantically turning the knob to close our room's window as she said it!!  (Some of the rooms HAD been a wee bit warm....)

We had been there since Wednesday night, this "qualifying to Regionals" tournament lasting Thursday through Saturday. 

The day before, the tournament team had talked about Worst Case Scenarios, and this quickly became a reality Friday night:  no electricity and few outside judges coming in to help judge the final rounds; parents help judge, but you can't judge your own students and you can't judge a speech category you have already judged, so it gets more difficult to slot judges in as the tournament advances. 

But what an amazing thing!  The physical situation was ideal; we were at a retreat center that used to be a Catholic boarding school, so we had a classroom building, dormitories, a cafeteria, and a gym. 

Here's a chilly Joan of Arc.

We had city water, and gas stoves in the cafeteria kitchen, and plenty of beds.  The retreat center's staff had stayed overnight to be there for us, AND thirty more people had unexpectedly stayed overnight on Friday because of the road conditions, so they were there to help judge too.  Isn't that fantastic?

We began the day late (to wait for natural lighting).  We all trooped down the hill to the classroom building

 and started out with a wonderful time of praise and singing. 

And when the tournament director said, "We'll get started, and I think we will be able to manage without the lights..."  BOOM!  The lights came on.

And went off.  And went on.  And went off (twice during the final LD debate round) and went on throughout the rest of the day.  But mostly on.

Here's the tournament director during a dark minute of the awards ceremony.

The retreat center staff worked all day to uncover our cars. 

In the end, we felt so good about everything that we decided to drive home (1 1/2 hours north) that evening.  Maybe we shouldn't have; it was kinda spooky creeping around Pittsburgh with no other vehicles, seeing dark places that still had no lights.  The most difficult thing was to get onto the interstate, because the snow was still so high on the ramps it scraped the bottom of the car.  Nasty!  But we got up there, drove carefully for five miles, and then--we were free!  And the roads were clear.

We were so glad to get home.  We drove happily into our long wooded drive and got hopelessly stuck right there.  We had to abandon ship, wade to the house in our dress clothes--and just LEAVE IT till tomorrow.

Makin' memories!


  1. Wow, what a tale!  Sounds like the retreat center was just the perfect place to be. I love the Joan of Arc!

  2. so very glad to get the e-mail with all the info on what my Baker Clan is up to    We are so very proud of all you kids and can't wait to spend time with you this summer I can't believe you are going to be graduating Josh  we sure want to be there for that great event   thanks for the e-mail address and remember you can call lme anytime as you are free on our phone  love you all so very much ---Gram and Dan

  3. You have been audacious to drive in that snow at night .What was this tornament ?The snow photo are spectacular but I like the smiling group at the end . However I have no idea who they are ??Love 'v}Michel

  4. @fauquet - It was a speech and debate tournament for homeschoolers!  The photo at the end is some of the students in our speech club; my youngest son is at the far right. They all did quite well, and most of them earned the right to go to the Regional competition, which will be in April.