Nfld. & Labrador

Plane, truck and snowmobile: Northern Peninsula couple pulls out all the stops to make Cuban vacation

A Northern Peninsula couple hitched a ride, drove a snowmobile and borrowed a truck in order to pass a snowed-in road and reach the Deer Lake airport.
When they arrived at an impassible stretch of the highway, Hedderson and Snow rode on a snowmobile and carried their luggage with them. (Submitted by Dixie Harpell)

A massive snowfall blocked the only road to Deer Lake Airport — but one Northern Peninsula couple found a way to get through the snow and towards their long-awaited Cuba vacation on Monday.

Angel Hedderson and Dwayne Snow beat a multi-day storm, and huge snow drifts, by devising a plan that would see them snowmobile over an impassable part of the highway and borrow a vehicle on the other side.

"It's just nothing that I'll ever experience again, I don't think," Hedderson told the Corner Brook Morning Show.

"It makes you appreciate what some people are willing to do for you." 

Massive storm

The storm, which walloped the Northern Peninsula for five days, put the couple's vacation plans at risk.

According to Dixie Harpell, Hedderson's sister, the couple already changed their tickets once in an effort to get better travel conditions.

But when they woke up Monday, the weather was just as bad as it had been all weekend.

"I had a little bawl, I cried," Hedderson said. "We just assumed it was over."

"All of a sudden, we start getting some crazy ideas."

The multi-day storm on the Northern Peninsula left huge snow drifts along roadways. (Submitted by Dixie Harpell)

With the help of Harpell in Halifax, Hedderson and Snow made a plan to make it to Deer Lake Airport, more than 400 kilometres away.

The group found a family friend who was willing to drive them from St. Lunaire-Griquet as far as St. Anthony Airport.

There they found another family, including a co-worker of Hedderson's, that was stranded on the other side of a snow-choked stretch of Route 430.

Hedderson and Snow borrowed a friend's snowmobile, tied their luggage to a komatik, and met up with the coworker on the other side.

They then borrowed their coworker's truck to drive down the Northern Peninsula to Deer Lake airport.

It's a long drive, and Hedderson said the road conditions were dreadful at times — but they arrived with just minutes to spare.

Dwayne Snow and Angel Hedderson arrived in Halifax at about 9 p.m. NT (Submitted by Dixie Harpell)

Harpell said the planning took hours.

"It was a big, big production. We used Facebook. I'm in Halifax and I've been on Facebook all day, trying to get in contact and find rides. It was a major, major event," she said.

A lot of the planning was based on the posts they were seeing on Facebook.

Harpell said the family just had to try to save their trip — which they had been anticipating since September.

"They just decided to take their chances. They left in a mad rush this morning and decided, you know, between a few borrowed vehicles and a snowmobile, they would try it."

"If it didn't work, it didn't work. But they couldn't not try. They had to try to get out."

A little help from my friends

Hedderson and Snow arrived in Halifax at about 9 p.m. NT, due to leave for Cuba early Tuesday morning.

Harpell is in awe of the kindness of her hometown.

The couple used Chris Humby's snowmobile, and arranged the trip through a Facebook group dedicated to road conditions on the Northern Peninsula. (Chris Humby/Facebook)

"It's just unbelievable how quickly such a small town came together for two people trying to go on vacation," she said.

"Everyone was willing to help out if they could."


Garrett Barry


Garrett Barry is a CBC reporter based in Gander.

With files from The Corner Brook Morning Show