It's cold. That's why I hate snow. It's cold and gets everywhere, like sand only cold. I don't really think I've ever liked the snow. You'd have to ask Ma to be sure. It seems that the year I was being formed there was a snow storm that covered the top of our family van.Ma likes to ask if I remember that storm and I tell her yes because I was hanging out in her womb, sitting back in my recliner with a cup of cocoa looking out of her belly button at it fall. There was another year when I was a baby and we were driving together as a family trying to get to Ohio. Maybe I picked up on the tension and/or fear as we drove through the dark on slick roads with low visibility.
There was another time long ago when it snowed a lot and my brother stayed outside because he was building a snow cave, even after it started snowing again. He kept coming back in for water to reinforce the walls. I'm glad that thing didn't cave in on him because no one knew exactly where he was until it was finished and we had to come and see his masterpiece.
It was pretty cool in there (pun intended). It protected from the wind so it wasn't freezing. It would've been a nice place to just hang out while the blizzard started to increase outside, but I don't like enclosed places for too long and Ma wasn't about to let her babies stay in a snow fort during a blizzard.
Anyway, we had a nice little trip this Christmas, but in the interest of having more things to post about to get me back on the Monday post track, I'll put that story up on Monday and instead share with you that time I thought snow was going to kill me. Around the same time three years ago was Winter Storm Goliath, and it did its absolute best to live up to its name.
Trips with Ma: Snow Day
It was two days after Christmas 2015 and Ma and I were ready to drive across the state back home. The problem with that decision was that it had snowed the day before, the largest snowstorm in years. Winter Storm Goliath they called it. There are people out there who are saying things like “why would a little snow make a difference?” To those people I must inform you that New Mexico is not a state that’s accustomed to snow, especially that much. Sure there are ski resorts here and a few towns that have those elusive machines known as the snow plow, but not everywhere in the state does, because those areas don’t know what snow is.
The snow fell all night and the department of transportation advised the public that if they didn’t have to travel, then don’t. Ma heard all this and insisted on leaving anyway. My recommendation was to tell the hotel that we wanted to stay another night. It was cold and icy, but not so bad in that town and the hotel had told us that they had the room if we wanted one more night. For whatever reason, she really wanted to get home, so off we went.
It was slow going coming out of the floodplain city and 70 miles to the basin. But once we were down that side of the mountain, things really cleared up. It was almost as if it never snowed at all. 14 more miles to the next little piece of civilization and we were forced to stop.
This snow shut down the major highway through the mountains. There were cars backed up for miles sitting at the closed gates. I recommended going back 14 miles and getting a hotel for the night, but Ma wanted a map so we could plot a course around. I was curious if we could take an adjacent mountain trail, but when I looked up at that mountain I could swear I heard menacing music as the dark clouds moved over it. Death Mountain was not a trip I was looking for. If they didn’t close those roads, it would be nothing but sharp turns and steep hills for miles.
Travelling down the highway in the middle of a caravan made me feel sort of safe, because we weren’t out there alone. The cars in front would pack down the snow so the car I was driving could safely traverse, as long as I followed their path. The sun had set while we were waiting, and driving in the dark has always been a bit of a chore for me, but we made it safely down the next 58 miles. Some of the caravan continued, some of them stopped.
Inside the convenience store, we all commented to each other about things: where were we going, where were we from, the benefits of those with internet in their cars and at least one bar cell signals. It was a fun moment. Of course, ultimately everyone was only out for themselves in the end. Understandable I suppose. The lady at the counter mentioned that a church and the school gym were open to travelers to keep them off the roads. I was ready to quit and get at it in the morning, but by this point we were only an hour from home. It was as quick a stop as each individual car could make and we continued in small caravans if we were quick enough to follow one down the highway.
I followed that caravan. We weaved back and forth to avoid the occasional large snow dune. Seems everyone was heading east. The two lane highway had little to no westbound traffic. At one point, we were stopped by someone who got stuck. Instead of helping them get unstuck, members of the caravan only moved them out of the way. They were only out for themselves after all, and by this point I was too.
20 minutes from home.
The road finally splits into a four land highway for awhile, two lanes each way, and I started to speed. We were so close. A snow plow made its way by us, most likely to help clear streets in town. I couldn’t decide which street to take to make it across to my area of town. I figured the usual way would be blocked and dark, the other common way would be even worse with its one street light, so I kept to the main roads leaving my caravan to the highway. I hope they all made it home safely.
I made it over a few patches here and there, but one snow drift was a bit too high for the rental car. It tried its absolute best to get over it, but the bumper was too low. We were stuck. There were a couple of guys in a bigger truck that drove by, but it was clear they weren’t going to help. The wheels spun wildly as I tried to get us unstuck, but we weren’t going anywhere. Just as I was ready to cry so close to home, a guy came out of his house on the corner and started to push.
We worked together, him pushing and me on the gas, trying to rock the car back and forth. His wife came out and we all tried. We shoveled some snow from the front trying to get the drift down. At one point, he got into his small truck that may as well be a midsize car, and tried to push. He kept trying until his engine was ready to overheat.
The wind was high and the cold biting when I got out to push. On a normal night, I probably could’ve walked home and grabbed one of the older cars to go back and get Ma, but the wind was so high that it was hard to stand and the temperature so low that my hands lost feeling in two minutes in gloves.
Just as we were all ready to call it quits, I found new determination to try again. We were so close to home. I rolled that car back in the groove we created and slammed the gas to the floor. I kept the pedal pushed down unrelenting and listened to the engine roar, hearing the tires squeal against the ice, letting the car shift lightly from left to right. I kept that pedal down believing that we’re either getting out of here or I’m burning out the damn engine block. I rented that car, what did I care? Then, out of nowhere, it slowly went up and over. We hugged that man and his wife before moving on.
Onward with Ma at the wheel.
We turned down a street we hoped would get us across town. There was another snow drift and Ma chose to go over it carefully rather than attack. We got stuck. I was greatly weakened from the previous drift but tried anyway. Pushing was pointless by myself and Ma just didn’t get that I wanted that pedal pushed down to the floor and for it to stay there. Not two minutes later, someone drove by. It may have been the same people from before because it looked like the same truck. Those two young men got us out in no time and told us of the flatter areas in the road. They said they’ve been out driving them all night. I thanked them and we turned around.
Cold, hungry, and scared out of my mind, I drove back to where they had said. I couldn’t see the spot they were talking about. The entire road looked exactly the same so I hung out in a convenience store parking lot that decided they didn’t want to be open anymore. Those guys drove back our way and lined themselves up with the opening. He flashed his lights at it and then took off as if to show me where it was. Reluctantly I followed and we were on our way.
I weaved on the road across town avoiding the snow drifts. Things were going fine until I turned down my next street and saw snow across the entire road along with a car that was stuck and a snow plow that was going to get it out. There was a black SUV on my side of the drift and he rolled his vehicle up over a curb and into the parking lot to get around the drift. I followed his lead but then he backed up and signaled for me to go ahead. It may have only been five minutes from home, but I was tired of driving, my eyes couldn’t focus enough to get us anywhere and I didn’t have strength enough to keep trying, but I know a cop when I see one, marked car or not. I asked him and his partner if they could drive us home. He said hop in.
I parked the rental somewhere under some light and off we went over piles I’m sure I could’ve gone until we turned down another street. It was covered. The officers had to pull two full sized pick-ups out of their snow traps before getting us closer. They turned down our street that was nothing but snow and ice and dropped us off at the door.
It was supposed to be a less than four hour drive that was turned into more than thirteen, but I found help the entire way. I didn’t eat and hardly drank, but when I got into the warmth of the house, I was just too relieved and tired to care. I’m just so glad that the universe watches over me, especially when I’m being an idiot.
So that's what happened three years ago. I'll have a more recent and much less traumatizing story to tell on my regular upload day (hopefully). But this is definitely the reason that now, any kind of falling snow fills me with so much anxiety.
Inspire, motivate, believe. Together we can change the world. Let’s all work together to make a better place. We can be each other’s cheerleader. We all rise together.
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YA Fantasy author and amateur photographer living in New Mexico. A reflection of herself, her characters are timid at first but tend to stand up and push through when times get tough.