The Great Snow Disaster of 2013

Reuniting with Kristen was wonderful as well, and when she got off work we headed to her family’s cabin in Incline Village, just a few minutes from the lake. We were all exhausted and went to bed after catching up for an hour or so. The next morning we rose pretty early to explore the area before Kristen had to go to work. We went to Squaw Valley, site of the Winter Olympics in nineteen seventy-something, which (naturally) put every ski mountain I’ve ever seen TO SHAME. There was a high wind advisory, so we weren’t able to snowboard and our plan b, dog sledding, was thwarted when we realized it was $110/person.

I would like to pause for a moment to acknowledge the crying babies on this very turbulent flight from LA to Atlanta. Their volume and lung capacity is worth recognition.

Lake Tahoe was lovely and snowy and as beautiful as you can imagine. Hailey and I laid around watching movies and talking all afternoon while Kristen worked. It was pretty perfect – a cabin in Lake Tahoe with a wood burning stove, blankets, pillows, tea, books, and plenty of windows to see the snow. We checked the weather at about 7PM and saw that a decent storm was going to hit around midnight, so at about 8PM Hailey decided she was going to head back down the mountain to Reno before the roads became slick.

Now begins the great snowy disaster of January 2013.

We opened the door to go to Hailey’s car and were greeted by at least two inches of already-fallen snow. “Uh oh” we said, and loaded the car. I went back inside because my original plan was to wait for Kristen and ride down with her, but Hailey called me about 3 minutes later to tell me that she was still stuck in the driveway. She drives an Acura TSX that has front-wheel drive, so it’s not the worst car you could drive in the snow but it’s far from the best. She had some snow chains that neither of us had ever used, but we tried to put them on anyway. We thought we were pretty successful in getting them on tight, and were excited when we were able to back out of our parking spot and begin pulling up the driveway. We didn’t make it 10 feet before we started spinning, and finally stopped to assess the situation when it started smelling like we were burning rubber. I stepped out of the driver’s side door, looked at the front wheels, and my face probably looked like this:


The snow chains had been turned completely sideways and were tangled all up under the car, squeezing the tires so tight (the wrong way) that there was NO chance of us being able to get them off. So there we were, stuck in the middle of the driveway/road, freezing in the snow, with no one to help us. Thankfully, Hailey got AAA for Christmas, so we called them. At first, they told us that they couldn’t help us because they didn’t do any work with snow chains. Thankfully, Hailey is the absolute best person to be with if customer service isn’t letting you have your way, so I listened with pride as she absolutely gave them the business and demanded to speak to a manager. In the meantime, I called the cops (what else was I supposed to do?), who came to our rescue and helped us convince AAA to send a tow truck to help us out. Hailey also managed to talk AAA into towing us all the way down to Reno (or so we thought) for free because she was so awesome/irate.

When Sasha the Romanian Angel (my affectionate name for the giant Romanian man who came to our rescue) finally arrived with his tow truck, he said, “I will NOT tow you to Reno and I will NOT drive you around this town. But I help.” At first he also said that he wouldn’t remove our gnarly snow chains, but quickly realized it was the first step to any solution. He jacked the car up, pried out the snow chains, and loaded it onto the bed of  the truck while Hailey and I warmed up in the cab of the largest tow truck I’ve ever seen. We still needed the snow chains to get down the mountain, so we spent the entire ride to Kristen’s work begging him to put the snow chains back on the right way but he never budged. He was afraid we would sue him if they messed up again. FAIR ENOUGH, Romanian angel. He dropped us off at the Hyatt Resort, Kristen’s workplace, where we paid the valet boys $30 to put on the snow chains on correctly.

Of course, as we started to drive Hailey’s car away, every brake light on her dashboard came on…PERFECT. The valet guys checked things out and assured us that the snow chains had messed up the sensors, but the brake cables were still in tact. Just what you hope to experience right before driving 50 miles downhill in a snowstorm. One of the chains broke on the way down, but we finally made it down to Reno at about 2AM.

SF to Reno!

Written on 1/15

I would like to start this blog by saying that my mother, the most organized and put-together woman on earth, went out with a bang in San Francisco by almost missing her flight home. We were sitting in the bed in our pajamas about 9PM last Monday (we love the nightlife) talking about going to the Farmer’s Market before leaving the next day. Dad called Mom to hear about our day, and then said, “Wait, aren’t you supposed to be home tomorrow morning?”  So mom double-checked her e-mail and we freaked out upon realizing that her flight was supposed to leave in two hours.

She threw her stuff together, got dressed, and repeated, “I cannot believe I did this…” as I called a cab for her. She ended up making her flight so I feel comfortable saying that it was hilarious.

I did a little exploring by myself the next morning before catching a (free – thanks Uber!) cab to the Greyhound station at about 3:00. After a brief incident involving my iPhone, a homeless man, and the security guard that I had thankfully befriended, I was on my way to Reno. Greyhound is not exactly the most luxurious mode of transportation, but it was certainly the cheapest at just $15.

I wondered if I would feel safe, but our bus driver was such a large and sassy lady that I was confident she could kill a man without even pausing to pump the brakes. I read for about an hour until it started getting dark, then my neighbor and I turned on the overhead reading lights so we could keep reading. Apparently sassy bus driver didn’t like lights, because she said, “TURN THEM LIGHTS OFF,” which we obeyed without question. My iPhone was dead, so I ended up just sitting there for about 4 hours since I can’t sleep on a bus/plane/train/anything but a bed. I didn’t mind too much, though – after 8 or 9 days of constant movement it was nice to reflect and be still a while.

My (accidental) quest to rescue old people in their peril continued in Sacramento. We had a 15-minute rest stop and I was standing next to the sink in the bathroom to charge my phone, minding my own business. A very old and tiny Chinese lady came out of a stall, tripped over her backpack, and was sailing face-first for the corner of the sink when I caught her in my arms and stood her back up. She didn’t speak English very well, but she said “Ohhhhh you help me!” and had me help her with her backpack and make sure the straps were un-twisted. She then proceeded to try and exit the bathroom via the handicap stall. When this did not work, she looked at me quizzically and said, “Outside?” and I pointed her in the right direction.

We finally made it to Reno a little after 9:00PM. Hailey, one of my dearest friends from my semester abroad in Spain, picked me up at the station. It was so wonderful to see her after a year of trying to dream up a reunion! I spent barely any time in Reno, but I don’t have much good to say about the “biggest little city on Earth” or whatever it’s called. Hailey and I headed straight to Lake Tahoe; Incline Village to be exact.

To be continued!