Saturday, December 19, 2009

Trudging through a Winter Wonderland

Don't know if you've seen the weather reports, lately, but much of our state has been buried under a foot and a half of snow. Started Friday afternoon for us and pretty much didn't stop until some time in the wee hours, at which point there was an impressive amount of snow on the ground.

Sadie and Moose have had a blast running through it, even after it had grown taller than Moose himself. I had a blast laughing at them. The wife and I ate takeout pizza and spent an evening by the fire.

After we arose this morning, I assumed we would probably eat breakfast here and settle in until the roads were plowed, but the wife announced she wanted to "get out in it." This is the sort of thing people who grew up in Alaska say whenever they haven't seen this amount of snowfall in a while. I don't think it's a matter of wanting to show off their ice-driving skills so much as the desire to be able to immerse themselves in a reminiscence about how things used to be when they drove around in several feet of ice back in Fairbanks. (This behavior is usually accompanied by long speeches about how the scraper trucks in Alaska are so much bigger than those here, how none of these pickup truck with a blade on the front models would be able to move even 5 feet in Alaska, and, eventually, ends a treatise on how Alaskan blueberries are so much better than any in the lower 48--or maybe that's just at my house.) Besides, we needed groceries and breakfast, she said, so we bundled up and out we went.

We dug the wife's Element out, which had been stuck in the driveway all night, having been unable to reach the top of the hill due to my car being in the way. Sadie, in fact, couldn't recognize the wife's car as even being a car, as its boxy shape just looked like a big white cube, and she barked and barked at it until we were able to dig it out. Once we were on the road, we discovered that with 18 inches of snow, driving was more like piloting a boat than a car, but out we went. It's mostly down hill to get out of my neighborhood, but then pretty much uphill all the way to the highway. Didn't matter. The wife was in great form and we had hardly any problems all the way to our first destination: our favorite local breakfast buffet.

There were hardly any cars at the buffet, and we had already half-expected them to be closed due to their staff being snowed in, but the Open sign was lit so we parked. Inside, we waited to pay, but there was no cashier. Beyond the glass-fronted windows of the cooking area we saw a manager lady we're familiar with and a male manager. As we were to learn soon enough, we nearly outnumbered the employees ourselves, as there were only the two managers, plus a guy who looked like a bus boy or maintenance man and another lady who I think was a baker. There was no wait staff and the managers were pretty much running the show, with the other two employees cooking what they could in back. Besides us, there were maybe 8 other customers.

After waiting for a couple of minutes, the female manager came over and invited us in, saying we could pay later and that they didn't have the full buffet out, but were taking orders for custom cooked eggs or omelets. Sounded fine to me. She then directed us to the servers' station where we could get our own coffee. Still sounded cool to me.

What proceeded was a meal of understanding and cooperation between the customers and the four staff members of the restaurant. For instance, we understood that they didn't have the staff to put out the full buffet spread, so we overlooked the items such as green beans and baked chicken that were present on the bar, and instead ate from the bacon and sausage which were there. (The bacon was deep fried for added speed and was, therefore, really good.) We did our own serving and refilling and tried not to be huge hassles for the overextended staff. Meanwhile, the female manager did custom eggs for us, which we ate over Texas toast, and they were great.
Two of our fellow nearby customers had been traveling through the state on their way from Florida to parts further north and had been stranded in our town, spending the night in their car. They seemed very grateful to have a place to stay and certainly weren't going to complain about anything. The whole meal just felt like people pulling together to make a bad situation work out for the best, and I have to say it was one of the more enjoyable meals I've had in a while as a result.

After breakfast, we headed down the road a bit to see one of the wife's patients. She doesn't do a lot of house calls, but is not opposed to them and has a small list of people she has visited in their homes, usually among the elderly. Unfortunately, the patient she'd promised to come see lived at the very end of a very hilly neighborhood. We couldn't even start at the bottom of the hill, though, because there was already a guy in an SUV firmly stuck, blocking the road. We tried to help push him get out, but conceded the battle to a fellow in a pickup who had a tow rope. That didn't work, either, but we'd brought our shovel and snow shovel so we helped dig him out and then pushed while the truck pulled and were finally successful. Less successful was our journey up the hill. The fellow in the pickup was on the same journey, so we let him go first. However, he stalled out mid way up the hill and we lost our momentum and had to start over. We still only made it about mid-way up, before just parking the car and walking in the rest of the way. The wife's patient was amazed to see us, as she'd assumed we'd never be able to make it out of our own house, let alone to hers.

Following a couple more errands and a trip to Wally World for groceries and beer, we headed home. We had hoped that our neighborhood would have been scraped by the time we returned, but not even the road leading to our neighborhood had seen a plow, so we figured it was highly unlikely. Still, we made it past the entrance to our neighborhood and about mid way up the first major hill, before stalling out. We gave it a few more college tries, of course, but wound up having to park the car at the bottom and haul most of our groceries up the hills and, eventually, up our gravity driveway. It's basically half of one of the two routes I walk with the dog every day, so it wasn't so bad on me, but the wife isn't used to such hills when laden with the ingredients for mulled cider. Once we got back and dried off, the wife indeed fired up the cider and we spent the afternoon camped out on the couch, drinking cups of it while warming ourselves with the wood stove.

Sometimes it's nice to be snowed in.

1 comment:

Debbie said...

One of our family's fondest memories was when 18" of snow fell on top of the 12" already there. It was a wet, heavy snow, which piled up on the branches of the 100 foot pine trees - at least 1000 trees broke off during the night, blocking roads and taking down power lines. Nobody went anywhere the next day, at least not by vehicle. There was no power for 3 days. Everyone was outside, enjoying the sunshine and doing what they could to clear the roads. There was a sense of community that's normally lacking. I think we need more days like that.