We were stranded. (Find out how by going HERE and then HERE. It’ll be fun, I promise.) The Spouse had gone off to find sustenance and we were huddled in a cold third story motel room that had many inches of ice on the inside of the window. Even the mold smelled cold.
Since The Spouse was headed for a grocery store only a few blocks away, I was a bit disturbed when 45 minutes went by and he still hadn’t arrived. Finally he called me on my cell phone (the phone in the room was only for calling the lobby for essentials such as clean towels, clean sheets, and what the hey, a clean room) to tell me that the grocery store was closed (at 8:30 at night. On a Saturday. In a resort area) and that he had to go farther afield to find a convenience store. One that charged an arm and a leg for the convenience of actually being open for business.
I was glad he called, not only so I could give the Big Guy a definitive ETA for the food but b/c my cell phone pretty much died at that point. No matter, I had bought a card full of units to fill up my track phone. This was especially important to me since The Spouse and the Middle Child were going to be leaving me alone with the boys whilst they went off to the faaaaaaar away resort whilst we stayed in the resort motel with a phone that only worked for calling the lobby (one which was only actually answered when employees were actually present, which turns out, was actually only about 8 hours a day). Boy, was I prepared or what?
The Spouse arrived with the food. I don’t remember too much about it except that I got a cold salad, there were a few apples, some of what he bought to be heated didn’t fit in the microwave and the lot cost roughly half of our entire food budget for the three day trip. No matter, we fed the kids, got them in bed and all was well until the Big Guy needed to use the bathroom. Oh, how could we have forgotten the fact that our Big Guy needs his own personal toilet, one with no quirky eccentricities and of the industrial strength variety that could send a flock of tennis balls to their watery grave without a qualm? We lay there in trepidation, tense with anxiety, wondering whether or not this was going to be the time the toilet was flooded--or hopelessly clogged--or both. I can’t rightly recall all the gory details and in which order they occurred but I do know that we got up the next morning (or perhaps it was the one after that) to discover the floor awash in toilet water. I believe the clog actually came later that day . . . .I remember it involved the purchase of a special de-clogging tool on the Sabbath (b/c whomever answered the phone in the lobby didn’t work on Sundays, nor, apparently, did the person who unclogged the toilets—whatev!) but those were not our only Sunday expenditures.
First, we had planned on either eating in the hotel restaurant (of which there was none) or buying food at the grocery store (which was closed) Saturday night in order to get us through the Sabbath without making purchases. The Spouse refused to pay the money they wanted at the convenience store for anything but the merest tidbits of food which were rapidly consumed ASAP so it was off to the grocery store Sunday morning to buy food, off to Kmart to buy snow boots (the ones we had bought for the trip were sitting in a nice box in the garage waiting to be loaded into the trunk—no doubt, they are probably waiting still) followed by a frustrating interlude at the pay phone to load up my track phone.
Let me explain. I couldn’t use my phone to fill it up b/c it was out of minutes and therefore did not work. I couldn’t use The Spouse’s cell phone b/c it had mysteriously disappeared. I couldn’t use the phone in our room b/c, well, see above. Finally, my phone working, we went back to the motel, we ate something, the Middle Child and the Little Guy and I went off to play in the snow with our new shiny boots whereupon I became so frozen and stiff that I suddenly couldn’t move (California hot house pansy that I am). The snowdrifts were as high as the Little Guy and I couldn’t pull him out. The Middle Child couldn’t get him or me out so I sat down in the snow and gazed up at the third story window of our room thinking that this was how I was going to die—frozen to the ground, literally a stone’s throw away from salvation. Too bad the stones were all buried under the snow.
Then I thought about the fact that we had come to give the Middle Child a snowboarding lesson, something that filled me with anxiety considering we only had the one phone which meant I had no way to call The Spouse whilst they were gone in order report any toilet flooding of an apocalyptic nature, any major barfing, out of control tantrumming, etc. etc. It’s not like he could do anything about it, poised as he was bound to be at the top of the mountain with nothing but a snowboard to get him the miles from the actual resort to the actual resort lodging, it just made me feel better to know I could get ahold of him. So, lying there as I was (by this point) I somehow found the strength to stand, got the Little Guy plucked from the snow, and off we went to the parking lot to find that phone.
This is what I knew: The Spouse had phoned me from the car the night before on his way home from the convenience store. The last time he saw the phone was when he tucked it between his legs. I figured that, in his exhaustion at having been done to death all day in a series of incredibly frustrating events, he forgot the phone was there and when he got out of the car, the phone tumbled to the ground where I hoped it was still. As I mentioned before, one could only park in certain areas b/c of the whole snowplow situation. The night previous, The Spouse had parked (and later reparked after our morning of Sabbath-sinning) in the last space allowed in that particular row. This space was now empty so I began inspecting the huge drifts of plowed snow just adjacent to that space. Me--cold, stiff, in a weakened state and a hot-house flower to boot, pitted against foreboding towers of snow. Nevetheless, I was going to find that phone if it killed me. Finally I had the bright idea of sending the Middle Child back upstairs with the Little Guy to ask The Spouse if he would please use my track phone to put a call through to his cell phone. I would follow the sound of the ringing like bird crumbs.
Sure enough, ten or fifteen minutes later (two frozen kids going up six flights of stairs with huge heavy metal doors at regular intervals along the way is a journey of epic proportions) the phone began to ring. But it wasn’t coming from the snowdrift. No, it was coming from a strip of snow right next to where our car had been parked the night before. I only had to dig through about an inch of snow to find it. Hallelujah!
Later that day we headed into Incline for pizza. Turns out that the highway was totally free of snow even though our little resort area looked as if the world had been snowed in for weeks. Crunch crunch crunch went the snow chains. We had to pull over and try to remove them with the icy wind blowing us to bits. I believe The Spouse had to break them to get them off. Did I mention they were brand new?
That night, as we tried to sleep through the stench of the flooded and clogged toilet (yeah, it just wasn’t getting much better in spite of our higly-experienced efforts and our Sabbath-sinning purchase of a tool that was supposed to fix it) I felt grateful that at the very least, I would have a tether, a lifeline if you will, to The Spouse whilst he and the Middle Child were off doing the thing for which we had come.
The next morning, they had their snowboard lesson. They each got two runs down the mountain. (Two!!) They were gone a frightfully long time so I called The Spouse’s cell phone to see if they were going to be back by checkout time but to no avail. It turns out that retrieving a cell phone from your heavy coat whilst wearing heavy gloves during a Snowboard lesson is one of those impossible things. In the end, we had to pay extra money to keep the room for an additional hour. As soon as they walked in the door, I threw some luggage at the Middle Child and bade her load the car then pushed The Spouse onto the bed and stripped him of all of his snow gear. Before he had even so much as caught his breath, we had wiped the dust of that place off our feet.
Fifteen minutes later, we realized we were passing the same snow-chain rest stop that had taken us four hours to travel from on our way there. We watched it go by in utter disbelief. The best part of our little adventure? It cost us a mere $800 (that’s two zeros). Due to the Middle Child’s strong sense of self-preservation, she has never uttered the word “snowboard” again.