Some of you might remember my three-installment saga (which I wrote long, long ago when I was still popular based on the quality and number of comments I received) about our last trip to the snow five years ago. It was a doozy. Now that we have dared to venture back into the deadly wet stuff (a Christmas present for the Middle Child that made her so happy, she cried tears of True Joy) I can honestly say that should she ever move to a snowy location, I shall not be visiting her there. Evah.
Of course, heading off to Tahoe (a four hour drive in good conditions) when the driver has full and complete knowledge that both roads that lead to our destination are closed seems a foolhardy thing to do. Might I submit this bit of pertinent information: it is. But Daddy has a hard time denying his little girl anything and since tears of True Joy are rare at our house, heading out with hopes that one of the roads would be open by the time we arrived on its snowy threshold seemed a good idea. Only, how to choose which road?
Naturally, we chose wrongly but a quick call to the Highway Patrol Hotline informed us that the other road was now open. Of course, we had to backtrack for quite a ways, then drive all the way North of the lake (in Tahoe) then across the top of it (such fosisticated language!) and down the other side since our destination was south of the lake (in Tahoe). There was a road we could have used to cut across but, naturally, it was closed. Apparently all the major snow was clogged up in one location (clearly the work of evil snowplows bent on ruining our day). In fact, we later learned that the quickest route to Tahoe from our house was closed for days due to avalanche conditions (the nice police officer who made us turn around said we could try to get across but he could guarantee we would get stuck in the snow and no one would be able to get to us to dig us out for Quite Some Time). (Believe it or not, The Spouse actually considered this for a moment.) (We could have almost died if we had.) (However, as we did almost die in spite of our taking hugely time-consuming detours (12 hours on the road rather than 4) it’s a moot point.)
The deathly hour in question was our 11th on the road—and we had just crossed over into the Nevada side of the area. We had been through the ghastly mountain pass that looked as if it was going to rain boulders down on our heads and the dark, winding roads that required chains and driving five miles per hour. Yes, indeed, we were now in civilization and since we had no desire to break our chains on the snow-free roads in town (something we have done before) (namely, during out last trip to the snow) The Spouse removed them.
It was a choice I whole-heartedly agreed with. There was no way I intended to buy another set of chains for the privilege of spending more quality (they say "quantity" IS "quality" time, after all) time with a gassy 250 pound Man Child and a bichon frise. (And, yes, we brought our dog because our last snow trip wasn’t punishing enough.) What we hadn’t counted on, however, was black ice.
I had no premonition or idea that we could possibly be in danger except for the constant and unrelenting fear that every mother has when taking her kids out on the road in the bad weather and on a trip designed for pleasure and entertainment since all mothers know that those kinds of things always end in disaster, as if we don’t deserve it and will be punished for acting on our desires for some kind of break from the daily routine. In fact, I have so feared getting in a car crash since my oldest was five days old that when I first realized we were in some kind of crazy danger, it was almost a relief. “Okay this is it, now I can stop worrying about it!” was the prevailing emotion.
However, my first thought, as we slid sideways across the road from our lane into the next was that surely the car would stop and soon. The Spouse would apply the breaks and we would stop, even if it was nose-first into the fast approaching bank of snow on the side of the road. There was no thought spared for any cars that might be around us and crashed into, no thought of my kids in the seats behind me, not a second spared for the welfare of the dog napping in my lap. Then the car turned in the opposite direction and that’s when I knew the truth and felt all that relief. It was just after that, when we slid backwards along the snow bank (followed by another crazy half turn so that our rear end was up in the snow and the nose of the car pointed at the road) that I started to scream like a chick in a horror movie. I screamed and screamed and screamed whilst my kids remained eerily silent (it’s okay, I was still unaware of their presence at this point) until the car slid sweetly back onto a black-ice-free section of the road and The Spouse easily turned the wheel in the correct direction and we were once again on our way. The whole thing took all of 30 seconds.
Now that imminent danger was past, I remembered that I was a mother and my children had almost perished in a horrid accident. Heart pounding, I began to call their names and ask if they were all right. They were too shocked to say a word and then I really became afraid, especially for my daughter (who started this whole thing with her dadgum tears of joy) because she was in the “way back” (as we often said as kids piling into the station wagon) and I couldn’t see any part of her (though stray parts drifting into my view would be a Bad Thing). Finally she answered that she was fine and that’s when I remembered that I had a dog and it was in my lap and she hadn’t been thrown through the windshield or even peed on me. Hysterical laughter ensued.
The next day, we did get to enjoy the area a bit. We took a sleigh ride near the banks of the lake (gorgeous) and in spite of the fact that the Big Guy was waiting in the car, (he’s usually the common denominator in these events) the harness broke on the sleigh. (This kind of thing always happens when we are around. Always. We have been on trains that have broken down, etc. etc. etc. They should tattoo warnings on our foreheads to faciliate rapid fleeing into the night upon our approach.)
And, in spite of the fact that the snow saucer Mommy brought was actually an AbSlide, we found a great place to toboggan. By that time, it was nearly dark and 14 degrees so I was forced to seek shelter in the car since my lungs are the California Hot House Floweriest part of me and were threatening to give up the ghost. Naturellement, (French for “ironic”) the drive home was clear and dry and no chains were needed.
They say it takes approximately nine months to forget the pain of childbearing long enough to decide to have another. Our last snow trip was five years ago. It was another five years between that one and the one prior. One can only assume it takes five years to forget the trauma a California Hot House Flower experiences during a Trip To The Snow. Come back in five years to see how it all turns out. Assuming I survive the trip . . .