Friday, January 7, 2011

Our Version of a "Snow Day"

Snow bound Kitty
(my own artwork)

When someone says, “Oh, today is a “snow day”, they usually live in some other place like Buffalo, N.Y., Minnesota, Boston  or even Big Bear, California. It is a day off school, off work, definitely off the roads.


The drifts lay piled in front of the windows and doors, temporarily trapped  inside, you wait for the   plow service to come by... that’s if you have one. The snow is still falling lightly or it could be blowing with a fierce wind across the landscape; a blinding white, frozen scene. It takes your breath away and you wonder if you will ever see a flower poke its head up out of the ground again or hear a bird sing for its mate. I am only imagining this. I live in So. Cal, the Chino Valley, elevation about 728 feet. Snow days do not happen here.

New Years weekend approaches and a trip we have planned with a large group of friends for several months is finally here. Early December 31st, the three of us hit the road and head towards Las Vegas, a four hour drive, ready to meet this special bunch we have known for over 35 years. We will celebrate more than a tick of the clock. We will celebrate lasting friendships, hysterical stories, exaggerated golf games, yearbook photos, remembering our parents, our teachers, and our children. We celebrate those we miss.

Fremont Street Experience
It was freezing cold in Las Vegas, 20 degrees colder than the average temperature for this time of year. This is when you dress in layers. Brrrrrrrrrrrr… We had great fun rockin’ to cover bands of Queen and the Rolling Stones and even more fun, people watching. (Thankful some visuals DO stay in Vegas...)

We head home Sunday getting a little later start then we should have, knowing a potential storm looms ahead in the Cajon Pass. Holiday traffic takes us two hours to just get to Stateline. We’ve settled in with the right music on the radio, the packages of granola bars and my son,  already snoring in the back seat.

The desert is so beautiful to me, especially in the winter. I take notice of the greenish tint of the desert floor, the amazing volcanic mountain formations and the unique silhouettes of the Joshua trees. The plants seem to grow in a pattern across the desert floor. With all the rain, dry lake beds now reflect the sky and shine on the horizon. 

Baker, home of “The World’s Largest Thermometer”, finally comes into our view. The traffic is heavy and slow going. The storm clouds are gathering in front of us and the afternoon sky is growing darker. We should be home by now. It seems we are the “scout” car, texting back to friends in the “wagon train” who left later than us what to expect.

Storm lies ahead

Crawling into Barstow amid big rigs and campers, if we move at 20 MPH, that is encouraging. Onward we go to the outskirts of Hesperia, snow flurries beginning to fall along the 15 south. We are now slowed to 10 mph, stopping and going in a long line of traffic. We look for the Laker game on the radio. The snow flurries melt as I watch them hit the black top of the highway out my passenger window. Each quarter mile progress brings more snow flakes in view and more concern that the pass…well, might just be unpassable. The texting continues to our comrades in common. Hesperia, Apple Valley, Victorville…three towns, three hours, and the sun is no more.

Looks clear here

Stopping at Bear Valley off ramp, we make a quick pit stop and get some coffee. Snow now covers the cars in the parking lots of the restaurants and shopping center. It is suddenly surreal. We quickly re-enter the highway, unsure if the snow will prevent a homecoming. Text messages resume. One “wagon” has retreated for an over night stay in Hesperia. The lanes in the road are now slush trails of ice and the bumpers and roofs of cars are thick with snow. The windshield wipers clear the ice as the blue and red flashing lights of the CHP guide our way up and over the Cajon Pass. The snow plows and gravel trucks are gathering on the opposite side of the highway.

Doing their job 

Yes, it took hours, careful, sober driving, and a healthy distance from the car in front of us along with a prayer for safety. Reaching Glen Helen off ramp on the way down the hill, the snow quickly turned to rain and in 40 more minutes we would be arriving home. Pulling into our driveway, we were greeted by three snowmen still decorating our entry gate. Tomorrow, we will be back to work;  our “snow day” now just another memory and test of fortitude and patience. I was unable to make a snow angel, but they were with us nonetheless.

Welcome Home

Isaiah 55: 8-12

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways,”

declares the LORD.

9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 As the rain and the snow

come down from heaven,

and do not return to it

without watering the earth

and making it bud and flourish,

so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:

It will not return to me empty,

but will accomplish what I desire

and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

12 You will go out in joy

and be led forth in peace;

the mountains and hills

will burst into song before you,

and all the trees of the field

will clap their hands.