Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Starting the Year with a Bang

I love goofy pics like this, with a foot of snow perched on our mailboxes!
January 1, 2019

What a difference a year makes! On New Years Eve 2018 we had a few inches of snow still on the ground from previous storms. By the time we were up at 5:30 a.m. on New Years Day 2019, there was more than a foot of snow blanketing our world.

New Years Eve is a great time to get together with family, and my kids usually come over to see in the new year together, with our traditional sparkling cider toast and a slice of homemade cheesecake. Once the storm warning was posted several days ago, though, I didn't even suggest getting together for this year. The last thing I wanted was my children traveling in heavy snow after midnight.

We did have three power outages during the night. The first two only lasted five to ten minutes. The final outage lasted about an hour, just long enough for the house to start getting chilly. Thank goodness it didn't last longer. The heater kicked back on and the house quickly warmed back up.

In all honesty, I wouldn't even have known the power was out if it weren't for Mark's BiPAP machine (for his severe sleep apnea). Even with a hall and two closed doors between us, I still heard clearly the long, loud, high-pitched BEEEEP the machine gave when the power came back on each time. The first time it made me about jump out of my skin, trying to figure out what horrible calamity would produce such an obnoxious warning alert!

My front yard at the start of the storm, around 3:30 in the afternoon
on New Years Eve 2018.

These two pictures illustrate the difference a few hours can make. I shot the top one soon after the snow started yesterday, announcing the windy but gentle arrival of the storm. The one below was taken after I got home this morning from ferrying people around town in my trusty Traverse.

My front yard at 8:30 on the morning of New Years Day 2019!

Both Sarah and Dylan worked last night. Dylan got off at 7:00 and was happy to make it home safely despite the slippery roads and driving snow, which affects visibility badly when lit up by headlights. It very much resembles the hyperspace lines that light up the cockpit windows when Han and Chewie activate the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive. I'm not even kidding.

Sarah didn't get off work until 11:00. She says it was touch and go, even with her Jeep's four-wheel drive. The storm was in full force by then, and the snow was already deep enough to reach the bottom of her car door. She managed to get home without getting stuck in a snowdrift, but she knew her luck wouldn't hold out once the snow deepened. She was supposed to work this morning, but she opted to call in and take a snow day instead.

One of Jake's co-workers, August, got stuck in the middle of the highway on her way into work late last night. Dylan called to ask me if I could pick up him and Dylan to go to her aid. They'd tried to move their car but got stuck in their own apartment building's parking lot. Much as I'd have liked to rush to the rescue, I knew the roads in my neighborhood hadn't been plowed and I was too nervous to risk it alone. Dylan thought maybe I could wake his dad and ask Mark to go with me. Well...Mark is the most easy-going person I've ever met, but interrupting his sleep at midnight, just five hours before he had to get up for work, to ask him to shovel out the car and go on a rescue mission, was a sure way to see Mark's rare cranky side. I could have gotten him to do it, but I didn't want to do that to him.

I recommended they call the police (not 911) to ask an officer to check on Jake's co-worker. They have the equipment to help and were already out in the storm. In the end, the police did find her, getting her safely off the highway and into a parking space at work for the night.

Meanwhile, Dylan and Jake's cars were both being held hostage by the deep snow outside their apartment building, so I offered to take Jake to work after I delivered Mark to his job. 

Waiting outside Dylan and Jake's apartment at 6:20 this morning.
Dylan and Jake's cars were trapped behind the snowplow berm on the right.

When I got up at 5:30, I asked Mark how deep the snow was. He said it was only about a foot deep and didn't look too bad. Then he went out to start my car and clean off the snow. When he came back in, he wasn't happy. He reported that the snow was more like a foot and a half deep (to his knees--and he's 6'2"!) and, to add insult to injury, a snow plow had just now gone by and left a three-foot berm in front of my car.

Me: "Better get the snow shovel." Mark: "I'm not shoveling it out!" Me: "Yes, you are." Mark: "No, I'm calling in." Me: "Even if you call in, you have to shovel it out." Mark: "I'm not doing it!" Me: "Yes, you are. I need to drive Jake to work after I drop you off. His car is stuck and he can't call in. Besides, there's not that much to shovel. That's why I park so close to the road before a storm." Mark: Grumbles all the way out the door, but goes out to shovel a space in the berm just barely wide enough to squeeze my car through. It takes about ten minutes. When he comes back in, he says, "Now I'm too tired to go to work!" I laugh, and so does he. 

One thing I figured out after our first winters in the White Mountains is the importance of limiting how much snow you have to move. I have a large driveway, but no one wants to shovel snow all the way from the house to the road. So, when a snowstorm is predicted, I park as close to the road as safely possible, with my car facing the road. Less shoveling required to reach the road (there's always the dreaded snowplow berm), plus it's much easier to drive straight out onto slick roads than it is to back out.

Dropping Jake off at work at the resort at 6:45 this morning.

In three and a half years at Denny's, Mark hasn't missed a single day of work (except planned vacations, of course) and he hasn't been late even once. We blew his record this morning, but only by two minutes. The roads were bad, and we discovered when we arrived that the Denny's parking lot hadn't even been plowed yet. Slipping and sliding along the tracks of bigger trucks I followed in and out took a bit more time than usual. Pretty nerve-wracking.

Considering that all the other dishwashers called in, claiming to be stuck in the snow, I guess Mark's boss won't be complaining about two minutes of tardiness. At least he showed up, and he worked an extra three hours until someone finally showed up to relieve him. (Good thing he didn't call in.)

Jake carefully climbs the slick stairs to the resort office.

It was 6:20 when I got to Dylan and Jake's place after leaving Denny's. On my way, I called Dylan and told him to get ready, because he was coming with us, too. He didn't work until 11:00, but the snow was still coming down, and I'd decided I wasn't going to make two trips to their apartment. He was agreeable.

Thankfully, the apartments' parking lot had been plowed by the time I arrived. It was a narrow lane with high berms on both sides, which made it tricky to turn around (backing up a car in small spaces is not one of my strengths), but it was better than forging through deep snow, and we managed it. We even had Jake at work at his exact starting time of 6:45.

By 7:30, the sky had lightened and we were on our way back to my house.

Jake's co-worker, August, was worried about driving her car home, after her experience on the way to work the night before, so Jake asked if I could drive her home. It made for a long drive, from home in Lakeside, in the middle...then north four miles to Denny's in Show Low...then far south ten miles to the resort at the top of Pinetop...then eight miles back north, passing home on the way to Wagon Wheel between Lakeside and Show Low...and then, finally, the two miles back home from there. But I didn't blame August a bit for not wanting to risk driving home until road conditions improved.

The highway that runs through town, about a mile from home.

The only issue we had was getting back on the highway after dropping off August. That area hadn't been plowed, and there's a stop sign at the top of a fairly steep incline. Having to stop in the churned-up deep snow at the top of a hill brought us to a halt, my tires spinning in the snow. I'm actually pretty good with this type of task, but my tires simply couldn't get enough traction to push me up the hill through the wet snow and onto the highway. And the thick snow behind the car prevented the tires from getting traction to back up very far

Dylan got out and was able to push me back downhill enough to get a running start. Then, praying that no idiot would came speeding toward us as we pulled out, I was able to get the car moving with enough momentum to slide through the snow and over the hill, onto the highway. Success!

After almost two hours of driving, home at last, safe and sound, at 7:30.

We'd been driving around in this horrible snow for almost two hours when we finally got back to my place at 7:30. Dylan has mad backing skills, so he offered to back my car into its little slot in the driveway, and I happily agreed. Then he went the extra mile and shoveled a walkway to the house, making it much easier on my poor knees. I didn't even ask him to do it, not even a hint, but I was so grateful!  You don't realize what a workout it is to walk in deep snow until you've experienced it.

Dylan backed my car into the narrow cleared spot for me.

Once we were inside the warm house, we visited a bit and I made Egg McNuthin's (no muffin) for breakfast. Then Dylan fell asleep in front of the TV while I went back to my bed for a nap (it had been a crazy night and a long morning). I drove him to work at 11:00 and will probably pick him up and take him home when he gets off.

Meanwhile, Jake drove August's car home for her, and she is just now driving him back to his place, where he can finish digging out their cars. He reports that the highway is pretty clear now. Slight chance for more snow tonight and tomorrow morning, but not more than an inch in total. The real issue will be the cold. They're saying two degrees in the morning, or -8 degrees with the wind chill. 

Sigh. But for now, everyone I love is safe, and that's always a good thing.

Dylan also cleared a walkway to the house for me. What a sweet guy!

No comments: