Snow Plow

I was looking for some change in life, and guess life decided to hand me some sugar and spice. Here we go…

“Snowboarding! You should come!!!” I’m wishy washy with some decisions, which included this one. Not because I don’t want to go snowboarding. More of because it’s far, it’s relatively last minute (on my part), and because my cousin had warned me about a storm about to pass through the area.

As it is on a late Friday evening of March 18th, after a few beers to go along with a band…dinner with some friends, and a bit more convincing that the weather is doable…I head over to Livermore at midnight for a 5:30am departure to Kirkwood the next day.

The drive up was pretty decent. The snowy landscape was beautiful and serene. And we had our snacks, cool gadgets, and good conversation for a fun road trip to the slopes. We waited at a road closed gate for about an hour and a half while hearing the occasional *boom* in the distance of avalanche control. Walked around amongst the falling snowflake and kicked ice formations off the bottom of my car. Then the line of cars started to move and we drove on into Kirkwood.

Tip1: Get your passes online beforehand. OR get them somewhere else beforehand. Anywhere…REI, Costco, SnowBomb, or even Kirkwood Online if you have something like a student discount. The discount will always be minuscule if you wait to get it at the Ski Lodge.

It was time to head to…the Bunny Slopes!!! It was the first time Maui had ever been on the slopes and it was time strap his feet to a snowboard and send him down a mountain. I also much needed to practice my transitions between heel-side and toe-side. After a few runs with Maui, we decided he should graduate to The Express. I found it to be one of my favorite lifts, but it was a pretty short run. Time for lunch, a few more runs down the mountain, a lot more speed, and a lot more falls.

Tip 2: If you’re wondering if you should wear a helmet or not…wear a helmet. They look cool anyway. And when you’re going down your last run of the day rather fast and rather carelessly, hit a patch of snow and fling yourself down the mountain backwards…your head will hurt less slammed against the ground when you’re wearing a helmet. You’ll be conscious when the little kid behind you does an amazing emergency stop to ask “Wow are you okay?!”

2011.03.19 Kirkwood Snowboarding

It was cold, but with the fresh snow…it was soooo good! There were also these huge gusts of wind that blew sideways across the trails. You could see it coming like a sandstorm in the distance. Then the person 10 feet in front of you would proceed to disappear into a whiteout of shrill nothingness and you hoped you were still on the trail down the hill for the next 5 seconds until the gust blew on past. Before we knew it, it was time to leave for the day. What a cold, but awesome day. We headed out, this time the rest of the group turning right to South Lake Tahoe, and myself turning left to go back home to the bay area. I had a lot of things I needed to get done at home and work I needed to check up on.

The roads started off clear. Then turned to ice. Then turned to white. It seemed to go on forever. Cars were passing me. I was a nervous driver in the snow. At a point, I crested over a hill to see a snow plow truck coming up on the other side. In slight surprise, I hit the brakes. And despite my raging speed of 20 mph, I slid down the other side of the hill. Looking on with despair, I was headed right towards a parked car on the side of the road. Two guys were looking at me. One jumped back out of the way as my car slid into the back of their SUV. Shock.

Turns out their car had been stuck in the embankment, as mine would have been had there not been a car there. The snow plow truck went on and then turned around agreeing to help the two guys pull their car out of the snow embankment. He got out of his plow truck at this time to run over to me and ask if I was okay. Nice guy. I can hardly even remember him doing that…I just know that he did. A sheriff drove by and said “I’ll be back” in a melodramatic way. Thank goodness he never came back. The SUV was pulled out of the embankment. And as it turned out, my car was still drivable despite the radiator being smashed into the rest of my car along with my right headlight and hood. I drove my car down the road to a turnoff.

So, long story short…I hit two guys. My brain goes into blank mode. I must’ve looked like a mess, especially with my matted hair and half of my face red from wind chill. And the guys came over to make sure I was okay. They told me to stay in the car to stay warm. And then they offered to follow me to somewhere safe. AND…”without sounding creepy” because they both have families, they offered their cabin if I couldn’t make it home. The upped the offer saying they’d even make me dinner. I was laughing. These guys were so funny. They said to stop at a certain gas station, so I kept stopping at all the gas stations along the way only to find that it wasn’t the one they were talking about lol. With my chains on I was going 25-30 mph and it was taking forever to get there. When the roads got clear both guys jumped out at a stop to take the chains off for me. I thought to myself…”they must think I’m like a princess or something.” When stopped at one of the stations this other car whipped up to park right behind me and jumped out of their fancy rental car asking if they needed to put on chains to proceed. We said yes. They pulled out the chains and asked what to do with them. We just kind of looked at them like…oh boy these guys haven’t even seen chains before and they’re about to start driving into a snow storm. Then we found out they were heading to Reno. They were far off the beaten path lol.

We reached the gas station. I called AAA and made a judgement call to leave my car in the lot and head a mile up the road to their cabin. It was a cute little place on 5 acres of land, decorated with a Norwegian charm. I called the insurance company and by the end of my call was laughing on the phone with Jay in Texas while these two white guys were making me Chinese food. Oh the irony haha. But man was the food good. Beers, tequila, stories, and two movies later it was time for bed, where I even had my own room. They kept saying that I was so nice, but they were the ones doing me a huge favor and helping me out in a time of need. By the end of it, they said that I better not regret hitting them. Especially since it already happened, I’ll take things as they come. Seemingly a lot of good experiences came out of it all as well. When I woke up in the morning and looked out the window, all I could see was snowfall out the window. It was so peaceful, so serene, and yet in my head was a silent scream because it only meant getting out of the mountains might not happen as easily as I planned. Today I was lucky.

2011.03.20 Kirkwood Snowboarding

Soon enough, I was on my way in a tow truck, sad to say goodbye to my new friends, and heading down the Sierra Nevada mountains with my car in tow. The driver Mike had worked 16 days straight that week. They needed all the help they could get with the snow storm coming in. The radio was going off like crazy with people stuck and in accidents. Earlier that week forecasts had said a storm would brow on Friday and Saturday. Not it had been extended with even worse conditions through til Tuesday. At a meeting point, my car was transfered from a tow-behind to a flat bed tow truck, which would take me the rest of the way home. My new driver was named Pat, who was originally from Stockton/Tracy and had traveled the country driving rigs to transport loads from one place to the next. He had almost been hijacked once in New Jersey…this didn’t surprise me lol. Everyone was so great. Even though I was stressed, everything was taken car of smoothly.

2011.03.20 Kirkwood Snowboarding

As it is, I am now car-less for who knows how long. The car was drivable, but also in no condition to be driven. If I am lucky, the car will not be claimed as totaled. It’s been by my side since I was 16. I will do without a car for as long as I can until needing a rental. For some reason (though I say this with mixed feelings and a lot of what ifs), this doesn’t feel like a really bad experience.

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