22 December, 2008
I was supposed to go to work today...
Well, I was supposed to go to work today. 0500 rolled around and the alarm started its annoying habit of waking me up from a perfectly good sleep. I got down to the car around 0520 and begin unburying it again. All day yesterday I was digging out the car and keeping the area in front of it groomed into a compact ramp, knowing I would have to get to work this morning. I also tried to chain up the car to be ready to depart. Unfortunately the chains were too small. The package was for the correct tire type, but the chains definitely did not fit. This was at 6pm. Les Schwab and Big O closed at 5.
What I did NOT know is we were going to get another 6" of snow overnight and I was going to be waking up to 18" of snow. Grumble.
I dug out the car and dutifully got behind the wheel. I managed to go up my groomed ramp, got about 5 feet and then *thunk!* sank into the deep snow. I was stuck to the point the snow reached above my doors, and my door became a giant shovel as I was trying to exit the vehicle and formulate my next plan. I stood surveying the amputee-snow-angel the vehicle had created, and grimly came to a stark conclusion.
I realized there was no way I was getting to work because my driveway was completely impassable. A nice bonus is the fact my driveway is about 200ft long. I know that doesn't sound like much, but when it is covered with 18" of snow over about 2-3" of ice, it is a significant obstacle to a minivan buried up to its doors.
I realized I needed to start shoveling the driveway. I was not amused. I love the snow. I really do, but I don't love so MUCH snow in a land totally unprepared for such. I don't own a snow shovel. Why would I? I live in a suburb of Seattle for chrissake. So, I improvise, employ my "Seattle Snowshovel" and begin paddling my way down the driveway. Current time: 6:15am.
Slowly but surely I begin to make some progress. The sun comes up. Birds start to sing, the clouds even break a little and show the first scrap of blue sky I've seen for days. I look at the driveway. I'm about halfway to the corner where I can then slide down the hill. Current time: 8:30am. Grrr.
I continue doggedly in my chosen course of action. I call up to the house and ask Bruce to check the local Costco and Les Schwab to see if we can get some chains that actually fit my tires. He determines neither opens until 10am and comes down to help me dig the last turn of the driveway. Current time: 9:20am.
I'm starting to get tired. I'm old and fat and slow, and not built for hours and hours of shoveling deep snow in the freezing cold. Bruce pitches in and we finish the driveway around 10:15am. Total time to shovel the driveway to the point we can make the turn and skid down the hill into the neighborhood: 4 hours.
Total time required playing in the snow with the dogs to make up for being outside without them for 4 hours: 15 minutes.
Obviously I'm not going to work today. But we really need groceries, I need to get chains that fit my tires, we are out of cat litter... So we call around about chains. 10 calls later we find a Les Schwab in north Kent with a set of chains that will fit my car. We pay by phone and start the trek to the tire store. Time: 10:45am. Halfway there Bruce realizes he has forgotten his wallet and the paper with the address of the tire store.
The roads are treacherous. We make it down the driveway and into the street, hoping no one is coming the other way at the bottom as I realize stopping won't be possible. We see many people sliding, spinning their tires and drifting across the packed snow and ice. People with 4x4s are going too fast and fishtailing or sliding through stops.
News Flash: 4 wheel drive is great for helping you start moving. It does NOT assist your stopping ability. All along our route cars are in the ditch and buried under snow like sleeping monsters. An hour later, we've made it the 5 miles to the tire store. We put on the chains, start the car and the temperature gauge is PINNED in the red. *%$#! is the nice way to describe my reaction. Looking under the hood the car does not seem too hot, but who knows. So we journey up Central Ave to Auburn way, and stop at the Chevy dealer to have the car checked out. It will take 2 hours, says the guy. Great, I'm thinking. In the first turn of good luck for the day, I look out the windows of the service center and across the street is: a Grocery Store! Hooray!
So we schlep over to the grocery store, get our cat litter and needed items, sit down and eat something and wander back over to the service department. Good news and bad news. Good news: The car is safe to drive and is definitely not overheating. Bad news: It needs a new instrument panel to the tune of $400. I decide that will have to wait until after Christmas and off we go.
We begin the trek home. Time: 2:30pm. We manage to get home, but then I discover I can't turn around in the driveway because I didn't shovel a spot for the 3-point turn required. Possibly an oversight born of my irritation with having to shovel so much fluff so early in the morning? Bruce also realizes he has forgotten to go to the post office and mail a package for a client.
Bruce goes inside to prepare his package, and the dogs and I set to work digging out a turn-around. The dogs are very helpful, tossing snow everywhere and chasing eachother through the drifts I am creating with my Seattle Snowshovel. Zora really wants to get in on the fun, but is NOT amused with the fact she keeps getting buried in the snow. Finally I hear her barking and notice the barks are coming from a snow-crater. I rescue her and she supervises the rest of my labor from the car window. About 45 minutes later our work is done and I send Bruce on his way since he will now be able to get home, and get the car facing the correct direction to depart again without me having to back all the way down the driveway in the dark tomorrow morning.
Now I am cold, wet, covered in sand, mud and de-icer from putting the chains on the car and basically super crabby. My clothes are filthy, the neoprene parts of my boots are soaked and freezing. I am going to get a hot shower, take 4 Advil, wash them down with a gin and tonic and lie down in front of the TV for a bit. The good news: I am all set to get to work tomorrow - as long as we don't get more than about 8" of new snow.