Odysseus has nothing on me


When I heard that the news reported Seattle has gotten an inch of snow, I thought “big deal…they freak out over a little snow which will probably be gone when I get home”. It’s hard to care about snow when you are enjoying sunshine.


When I travel, I really miss my dog. I’ve gotten over the anxiety involved with taking him to Paradise Pet Lodge, as he actually seems to enjoy it. But I miss my little baby all the same. Knowing that I would see my poochie soon made the three plane flights over as many days more bearable. Each one, brought me closer to Jonas and home. Well, that is true literally, but here I sit sans dog. I miss Jonas!


As my car service drove me away from the airport, soggy snow fell from the sky; big, ploppy, wet clumps of snow. It was hard to tell what traffic issues were caused by snow and which were caused by rush hour. We zipped past them in the carpool lane. But as we closed in on Redmond, it became clear that we had a problem. I think I have mentioned that I live on a hill; a steep one. We tried several routes and could not get up the hill. I literally got to within about a quarter mile of my house with no way of getting there. The snow and rain had frozen into slick ice and people were abandoning their cars on the side of the road. By the time the driver asked me why I bought a house at the top of a hill, I was considering measuring the circumference of his neck with my hands. I’m sure they could make it around if I just squeeze a little tighter. The driver was totally spooked by the conditions. Evidently, they have snow in Russia but not hills. Also, evidently, they don’t know that if someone is making a panicky phone cal to their dad (hey, I’m not proud), you should not interrupt them every twenty seconds with “where do I go?”. At some point I snapped at him “Are you telling me that you are going to leave me on the side of the road? Go wherever you can drive”. Yeah. vacation is relaxing.


I ended up spending the night all of about 1.5 miles from my house at the Marriott at Redmond Town Center. I called to book one of the few remaining rooms and my heart sank when I heard the room rate was $299. There’s a difference between paying that much when you are on vacation, but under these conditions? I later found out that I could ask for the “Microsoft rate” (we put many candidates at the Marriott) that would save me more than a hundred bucks (blue badge required) so that was a bit of a relief. I went up stairs, dropped off my copious bags and then headed downstairs for a bog glass of wine. I would never go to a bar by myself (I’m not much of a bar patron anyway), but I grabbed a magazine and my cell phone and ordered a glass of Merlot (Sideways be damned). I had dinner and drinks and met some nice CapGemini folks in town doing business with Microsoft (and you know that I can’t not try to recruit people). Anyway, I actually ended up having fun, despite the fact that I had no idea whether I could get home the next day.


 And why didn’t I bring my laptop on vacation? I questioned that decision. The worst part of the scenario was that I found myself being an optimist about the whole thing. Seriously, I annoyed myself. I considered myself lucky to have luggage with me (though perhaps the big box with the candle sticks could have been sent through the mail). I was at Redmond Town Center so if I got stuck the next day, I could go to the movies. Heck, there was even a Microsoft office nearby if I wanted to hunker down with a PC in the lobby. Eddie Bauer was across the street so I could go buy gloves if I needed to. I had several restaurant options to choose from. I was a tourist in my own neighborhood and I had enough clean clothes to last me for a couple days. Granted, they weren’t really winter clothes. Don’t rain on my newfound optimism. It’s a coping mechanism.


Next morning, after Paradise Pet Lodge called to let me know Jonas was ready for pick-up <sob>, I decided I was going to make some progress (which is hard with a couple of suit cases, by the way). I literally had to talk the town car driver into taking me home. Yeah, the car driver who was standing there with nothing to do…I pressured him into driving me, telling him I know a less steep route up the hill, explaining that the areas with sun shining on them were melting that my route home was mostly sunny. When we got close enough that I could conceivably drag my suitcases home, I was relieved. There were abandoned cars all over the place. That was yesterday.


 Today, it’s all still frozen. But it’s almost 30 degrees at 9:30 AM and I’m hoping we get some meltage today. In the meantime, I’m conducting the post-vacation dumping of the suitcases in the living room that then results in the massive laundry frenzy. I may even do some cleaning tonight…the kind that is hard to do with a wet dog nose pressed into your arm. You know, the kind of cleaning that requires you to get on the floor and vacuum under something or requires that paws don’t tromp through while the floor is still wet. That kind of cleaning. I’m distracting myself with constructive projects so I don’t dwell on how eerie my house is without my little boo boo here. I miss that cold wet nose.


Before you start wondering why the heck some snow and ice is such a problem here in the Seattle area, consider that this is an extreme rarity. In the seven years I have been here, I think we had one other ice storm that caused problems and it cleared up the next day. Frankly, I wouldn’t care so much if it weren’t for the fact that I was trying to get home from vacation. I find it kind of cozy to be tucked away in my house with some comfort food and a fire in the fireplace. Seattle is just ill equipped for extreme weather. And like my car driver said “why did you buy a house on a hill?”. “Because this never happens”. I predict a ballot initiative to add new road clearing equipment after this storm. Buy it now. Dang ozone layer.


Anyway, given that it is such a novelty, the kids in the neighborhood are having a lot of fun. Schools are closed and there’s plenty of snow for snow men. I’m not sure that we ever have enough ice for the kids here to know about skitching, but I don’t recommend they do it. One of our stupider stunts in the midwest, if you ask me.


I’m lucky to live next door to people that have really great kids. I’m not a fan of screaming and sticky fingers, but I have to say that these kids are really just sweet, good natured, polite and cute. No there aren’t children in my future, but it’s not because I dislike kids. I love the ones with parents that take the time to teach them how to behave. The ones whining and demanding candy in the store make me want to poke myself in the arm with something sharp. That’s just me.


Two of the neighbor kids came by last night to ask if they could use some of the snow in my front yard (cute!). I asked if they were going to build a snow man and the six year old girl told me that actually they wants to make snow balls to nail their dads car. Hee! You can’t dust for snow…it didn’t come from my yard. Anyway, they played in the snow in my yard and left me a snow angel in front of the window. I’m not sure if you can see it in this photo. So I’m not a photographer:


Anyway, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be making a trip down the hill today but still trying to focus on the fun of the snow. It’s hard not to appreciate it when you see kids playing in it outside. My next car will have 4-wheel drive.


 

Comments (26)

  1. An Avid Supporter says:

    A 4 wheel driver wouldn’t have done you any good on the ice, Heather.  For all the more snow you guys got, a front wheel drive would have been fine. The ice is what is causing the problems.  

    I hope you get your boo boo back safely!  

  2. patblue says:

    HH – I got your message for lunch while you are prisoner of RTC.  I was actually a prisoner of my hill at home on Capitol Hill.  I thought my ‘work from home’ snow day would be relaxed and fun, but I worked my tail off.  I made it out to RTC today, but will not stay long for fear of the next storm that is rolling in.  Also, as many of my friends and family from Wyoming and Montana ‘mock’ us for the snow terror that comes around from 1 simple inch of snow… 4 wheel drive will help you get up a snow covered hill, but coming down that snow and ice hill is a different story, you have 4 wheels that will either spin or lock up, and not aid you at all in your decent, but rather help you spin around or through intersections better :-).  This is probably not the time for me to start a rant about others that have never driven in snow ‘coming out to see what it is like to drive in this stuff’ and those that don’t keep good tires on their cars and try to head up the hills…blah blah.  I am glad you are home safe.

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    I got Jonas back but I totally hosed my car. I slammed into a curb and my alignment is totally jacked up. Guess I’m headed for the auto shop whenever the weather clears up.

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oh and also? My sprinkler line in the front yard just exploded and water was spraying everywhere. When am I going to learn that I haver to clear it out at the end of the season?

    Most expensive week…..ever!

  5. Wine-Oh says:

    Thought you had a RAV4. Arent they 4WD?

  6. mrscrooge says:

    Sorry to hear about all the problems you had! Today, we too had a pipe burst in our building which set off the fire alarm, and so we ended up standing outside in the cold for 30 mins waiting for the all-clear.

  7. Lauren Smith says:

    My inbox has been flooded with "I’m working from home" emails the past couple days. I’ve seen some pictures and read some of the stories of how bad it is, but yours is definitely the most vivid.

    When I lived in Kirkland, I lived at the top of a hill (downtown, above where the old Salvation Army store used to be) and it sometimes got deep enough that it wasn’t possible to make it home. But things never got to the point that it would be impossible to get home. I’m reading about people staying in hotels in all the emails coming in. Crazy.

    It’s a shame about the car. Hopefully things clear up for you guys soon!

  8. HeatherLeigh says:

    Wine-Oh, it was an option on the car I didn’t take. The funny thing (I’m trying to find "funny things" at this point) is that I just finished paying it off. That freaking car found a way for me to keep paying : )

    mrscrooge- hope you had a warm coat! I actually found the cold kind of refreshing. Having said that, I did leave Chicago because of it. A certain amount of cold is good though…maybe a half hour : )

    Lauren Smith-thanks. It will be OK. I awoke to melting snow this morning. Frankly, I think that once I finish my laundry and get my house tidied up, life will look a lot better. I’m not sure what has gotten into me. I am handling this very well. Don’t think badly of me…I have plenty of sassiness left. I guess I’m just successfully coping with a sucky week.

  9. Wine-Oh says:

    Ugh sorry to hear that. I have 4WD on my Passat. Dont think I can ever go back to 2WD. It helps to have it on the highway, especially on rainy days. If its any consolation I just put $500 into my car as its off warranty (alignment, a major service, new breaks, etc.). Pot holes in NYC kill the alignment. Just dont let the car know you are upset with it, or it will begin to find other ways to pay you back.

  10. HeatherLeigh says:

    Wine-Oh, that is good advice. I’ll ask Jonas to keep my secret as well. He was going nuts in the back while we were sliding around.

    The thing is, I don’t drive all that much. I have ridiculously low mileage on my car considering how long I have had it. Who would haver known that the 4WD thing would have ever been an issue. I had an appointment with the body shop and adjuster on Monday. My car is going to hobble into Kirkland for that.

  11. patblue says:

    HH – you have plenty of sassy left I am sure.  This many help you in your healing and shuddering over your financial payout from WINTERBLAST 2006!  Last night I ventured home early due to all the news reports terrorizing commuters that Round II of snow was on it’s way.  I got home around 4pm and all was well.  Finn the dog needed to go potty really badly so I failed at my usual task of putting my yard shoes one (no not crocs).  I hurried outside in my dressy and SLICK Steve Madden’s and 1/2 way across the patio the ice took me down. I almost recovered at first, but this was one of those  – splits first/recover/kick your leg in terror/and heels come out from underneath you falls.   Finn of course thought I was laying there to play, I of course immediately worried about who saw me, and then what I broke. I think him licking my face brought me out of the daze.  Fortunately no one saw me except for Finn, and I ‘think’ nothing is broke, but I am hobbling around like a 89 year old (RAHGT NAWH) today.

  12. patblue says:

    Also- you banged your car up by sliding into a curb right?  Your foot planted firmly on the brake?  4WD wouldn’t have helped in this situation I don’t think.  I think you made a sound choice by not getting 4WD  to drive in our area, unless of course you were to take up aggresive skiing and drove the pass all winter like AnnSh.

  13. HeatherLeigh says:

    patblue-your description cracks me up. I remember one night when I was in Chicago…I was actually visiting from LA. It was before I had decided to move back from LA to CHicago. Anyway, we were meeting friends at a bar and it was *really* cold (not as in freezing, as in single digit). I wore my friend Matt’s big down jacket. I looked like the Michelin man. We got out of the cab and I slipped on ice right in front of the window to the bar so everyone could see it. And when Matt was trying to pull me up, the coat was so thick, I couldn’t bend. I had to laugh. I hope you didn’t hurt anything Patblue. Maybe take some advil just in case…though I think you would know by now. Jonas was thoroughly enjoying my road stress yesterday, that little jerk : )

    Yeah, I had my foot on the brake and I was working the hand brake too. I am pretty good at driving in conditions. You would probably agree that when you grow up around it, driving becomes instinctual. But yeah, that didn’t help me at all as I slid backward down the hill. I was imagining the people behind me freaking out because I was coming their way. Luckily, that curb stopped me (yeah, luckily). I think you are right about the 4WD thing. I don’t ski. This whole episode would have been totally OK if I were not trying to come back from the airport. If I were already home with Jonas, I’d just have the broken sprinkler pipe to deal with and really that can wait until spring.

    Looks kind of melty outside though now, right?

  14. Cyberjag says:

    Hmm.  That reminds me of a time when someone once asked me what my most embarrassing moment was…. 😉

    Well, on thinking about it…probably when I was parked on a hill but not actually in the car and turning to see it rolling back down the hill with brake fluid spraying out from underneath and watching it as it smashed into the front of an Aston Martin.  My car’s value back then?  About $500.  My insurance company had a field day with that one!  "Have you ever had an accident sir?"  Yes….but not while I was actually in the car!

    Maybe the thought of another but  longer holiday to sunnier climbs might be in order?  Sandy beach, azure blue water…hmm.  Why does Rio start playing in my head?

    Hope the car gets better soon!  

  15. HeatherLeigh says:

    Of all the cars to crash into!

  16. tzagotta says:

    I don’t know what some of the other posters were talking about with respect to AWD. I live in Michigan, and we see a decent amount of snow and ice. What you need in winter is three things: AWD, traction control, and antilock brakes. Antilock brakes improve stopping, and all models have them of course. Traction control helps you get going, along with AWD – these two work together to make sure tha none of your wheels are slipping (spinning) on the ice or snow. If one does slip, then power is transferred away from the one that is slipping, to the others that are not. It makes a huge difference in getting going and staying on the road.

    So, when it snows or is icy, I can basically just drive like normal – just have to be careful steering and braking – even all the auto technology can’t make that a perfect experience on ice. I drive an Audi A4 AWD, but I think any modern AWD these days will do the trick.

  17. HeatherLeigh says:

    Uh yeah, except that we have mountains here. I lived in the midwest too and it was fine because it was flat. Not the case in the Seattle area. Also, they have snow plows and salters in the midwest. Again, not really the case here in Seattle. There are a small number of plows and they soot the roads which isn’t nearly the same as salting. Apples and oranges.

  18. Simone says:

    My Range Rover runs perfectly in the snow when 4wd is engaged. I’ve even taken it to resorts in Colorado during near blizzards. But there’s no way I would take it to Seattle during a snow storm. As Heather said, the city just isn’t prepared for it.

  19. Derek Bigelow says:

    I’ve been driving for a while, and growing up in Buffalo helped, but the other day when the roads were ice was the first time I was actually afraid of ramming into somebody or losing control.  I’m glad it’s over.

  20. Bad_Brad says:

    On Monday evening, I didn’t even know it was snowing when I got into my car (I don’t have a window office).  I was just about floored when I realized there was a line of cars waiting to get out of the parking garage.  I took my spot at the back of that line at about 5:45 pm.  By 6:30, I had made it out of the garage and down the street about a half a block.  At that rate, the 4.5 mile drive home was going to last well into the morning hours.  I also saw cars fishtailing at very low speeds, and realized that not only was the trip going to be slow, it was also not going to be safe.  So, I turned around, put the car back in the garage, and walked home.  I had my fleece jacket, a headband, and some gloves, so it wasn’t too bad.

    And I did have a couple of things going for me.  I had my flex pass (thank you MS), so I knew I could hop on a bus and warm up for a few minutes if I had to.  And the Seahawks game was going on, and I’d say about every tenth car had the game on the AM radio turned up pretty loud.  I was even able to help several stranded motorists push their vehicles to the side of the road.  One lady was so grateful she bought me a hot chocolate at the gas station (I tried to decline but she insisted).

    I made it home in about an hour and a half, helped some people, got my exercise, made it home safely, was able to follow a Seahawks Monday night win, and felt pretty good when I got home.  Maybe this "4.5 miles, through the snow, uphill both ways" stuff that our old timer parents told us about isn’t so bad after all.  

  21. HeatherLeigh says:

    I’m thinking we need t-shirts! "I survived Winterblast 2007!" "My car fishtailed and stalled and all I got was this crummy t-shirt" Hee!

    Bad_Brad, you were smart to have the gloves. I probably could have walked home from the Marriott if I had gloves. That was so sweet of you to help people. No way we are every going to believe you are "Bad" brad : ) No way!

    I put my spare tire on today…OK, I paid someone to put it on. I’m one step closer to getting back to normal. I’ve never been so excited to see snow melt. Reminds me of the cabin fever I used to experience in Chicago. One bout of that led me to Seattle!

  22. RJD says:

    patblue–same thing with my dog put a titanium plate and 7 screws into my ankle (still there).

    We’ve enjoyed the very bored weather-studs who seem totally bummed they had no hurricanes to stand in this season.  SNOW IN DENVER!  OMFG!!  END OF THE WORLD NEARS!!

    My first year in ‘Bama was "Winter Storm ’92".  I had lived in PA the previous 4 years, and was darn good at driving in the snow on hilly roads.  I was the sole idiot out looking for a cheesburger in Tuscaloosa.  There were none to be found, needless to say.

  23. HeatherLeigh says:

    Idiots or cheeseburgers?

  24. RJD says:

    Cheesburgers.  There was at least one idiot.

    And no, I guess you can’t dust for snow.

  25. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hah! Makes me wonder if you are using your initials now so we won’t know who it was driving around like that. But I know who you are. Dudley’s getting snarky these days!

  26. RJD says:

    Just playing to present company!