The kids love to tease me about my various mistakes and mishaps on our snow trips to the mountains -- and the material is plentiful. I kid myself about it of course, turning genuinely stressful moments into fond memories...but sometimes I wish there were just a fewer of them to joke about!
It is true that one year ago today, I missed a crucial turn-off on a drive from South Lake Tahoe to Incline Village in the Northern Lake Tahoe area, uniwttingly staying on U.S. 50. Everyone misses exits from time to time, but if you miss this one, a concrete barrier prevents a correction until you've arrived at the capitol of Nevada!
Then there's the trip that I didn't have a thorough checklist of snow items, and was missing one of Katrina's snow boots. And then hung Julian's soaking-wet jacket on a wall furnace and melted its plastic zipper into a useless mass. Same trip, the restaurant I'd planned on for dinner wasn't open for dinner, and the kids had to make do with oatmeal in a motel.
And that's just skiing. Don't even get me started on the mistakes I've made camping....the most recent one being leaving behind all the flashlights. SIGH.
I'm not sure this will top the Carson City debacle, but today I definitely added to the long list. Last night, when we arrived at a new rental house in the dark, I discovered how steep and icy the driveway was, but managed to back out -- and up -- out of it, to back in -- and down -- for optimal escape the next day. I'd backed out and up, turned around, then backed in and down in the dark. Low-traction skills? No problem!
Not quite. Conditions changed by late afternoon, and despite perfect visibility and being faced the right way, I just couldn't get enough traction to pull forward at all. The car slid back and into a snowbank at the side of the driveway, and my attempts to rock it free only got it more dug in. I tried digging it out with a shovel and putting wood strips under the tires, but that made no difference. The car was stuck.
Let's not forget this was a rapidly evaporating afternoon on New Year's Eve, I was alone with 3 kids, and we were almost out of milk! My panic was totally called for.
I invoked a "get out of jail free" card I've carried around for years and years and until today have never used: AAA. To my amazement, a tow truck showed up in under an hour!
The nice young man knew exactly where to hook up the car, and laughed sardonically that mine was the 3rd Subaru he'd pulled out that day, though I was the first who acknowledged that all-wheel-drive is no "stay out of jail free" card. I'd parked in a nonideal spot (backing into it at night), and squandered whatever teeny bit of traction I had when I first tried to pull out. I know all this, but apparently wasn't able to apply it right.
Gabriel oversaw the extraction, which was more dramatic than I expected. The car hadn't looked all that stuck, but it sure sounded like had been with all the creaking and groaning that went on when it was pulled free.
I am so not parking down that innocuous-looking, but car-sucking driveway, again!
This was a short drama in an otherwise terrific snow day. The kids played out in the snow all day, sledding, making piles of snow, of course snowball-fighting. It was colder than we're used to, and they came in often for breaks, but once they warmed up, were right back out.
This snow is way deeper than I ever remember dealing with as a kid in New York. It can be pretty hard to move around in -- you think you're walking OK, then suddenly you hit a soft spot and your entire leg sinks in. I had to laugh when the AAA dispatcher asked me, "How far from the pavement is your stuck wheel?" I had no idea!
I spent my share of time outside today shovelling snow too, outside windows so as to see outside. Snow piles up so high that it blocks the top of patio doors and windows. That's Truckee for you -- often topping the nations' cities for highest and deepest snowfall. Sometimes it amazes me that people live here, Mother Nature is so in control, it almost seems unnatural.
Unnatural or not, fortunately, snowplows and tow trucks are on the alert for people like me who insist on experiencing Mom Nature at her best!