Better Safe Than Sorry

In 1995, torrential rains and flooding washed away Hwy 1 South in Carmel, on both sides of the cliff top hotel where Markus and I worked–Highlands Inn.  For a few days, we lived on an island with a few dozen guests and a handful of employees.  We dined on the finest food, prepared by our friends, world-class chefs.  It seemed like an adventure, but deep inside I was terrified.  As soon as the road was slightly repaired to the south, we caravanned out of there, taking an 8 hour detour into Big Sur, for a drive home that would normally take 30 minutes.  Once home, I went into Safety Mode and immediately purchased a giant red backpack from the Red Cross, filled with emergency supplies, should we ever face such an ordeal again.  Markus laughed every time we moved, and we transferred that red backpack from one front hall closet to another.  In Hawaii, we lived through a magnitude 6.7 earthquake in 2006.  That sent me to the store to stock up on 1 gallon of water, per person, for 3 days.  So the red backpack and 15 gallons of water sat in our closet for the next 2 years.  When we moved to Canada, my husband said, “We’re moving to the Rocky Mountains – no more earthquakes, no more tsunami threats, and mostly snow, not rain.  Please get rid of that old red backpack!”  I responded by tossing out the expired MREs, chocolate, and batteries, and replacing it all with fresh supplies.  The backpack sat in our mudroom closet in Banff for two years, only getting pulled out once, when my husband drove 4 hours to Edmonton in the winter.  He laughed at me and didn’t even bring a coat (it was a warm day).  A blizzard hit while he was getting gas for his car, and as he stood there shivering in his shirtsleeves, he could hear my voice in his head, “Bring your coat – you live in the mountains – weather can change on a dime!”


We’ve since moved 4 hours north of Banff, to the town of Jasper.  In order to travel to civilization, we need to drive through mountain passes with no cellphone reception, past glaciers and avalanche country.  We make that drive dozens of times a year.  Guess where that red backpack lives now?  In the trunk of my car.  My husband still laughs, but he did have an occasion to use the little shovel I added to the kit this winter.  A stranded tourist had driven into a snowbank, and we ended up digging him out.  HaHA!


Just this morning, a little creek in the town of Canmore, where I used to do my grocery shopping, grew to monstrous proportions, jumped its banks, and washed away the highway connecting it to the nearest city.  Homes were evacuated, schools were closed and turned into evacuation shelters, and people watched their back yards get washed downstream. Mudslides from the steady rain closed off the highways connecting the other towns, like Banff and Lake Louise.  Even the highway leading up to Jasper was closed.  We spent the day worrying about our friends, worrying about the roads, and remembering other weather emergencies we’ve lived through.  


Lying in bed tonight, my furry guy turns to me with a twinkle in his eye, and says, “Wow.  People in Canmore should really have a red backpack filled with emergency supplies for times like this.  It would really come in handy.”  I didn’t see the twinkle, at first, and my eyes widened to hear him support the emergency bag for the first time in 17 years.  I enthusiastically exclaimed, “I KNOW, right?!” and then I saw him giggle. Laugh it up, buddy boy.  I grew up with my mother filling the bathtubs with water during monsoon seasons in Malaysia, and typhoons season in Taiwan.  There were storms that forced us to use that water. In west Texas, where my oldest daughter was born, I spent several hours a week IN the bathtub with my baby, during tornado warnings, with the tornado sirens wailing in the background. My backpack is my security blanket.  If I never have to use it for the rest of my life, I will be one very happy lady.  And if you haven’t put together an emergency backpack of your own, now is the perfect time.  Go to:


Hopefully, it will be the best thing you never have to use!Image

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: