Sunday, December 28, 2008

The One Where Hell Froze Over

Did I happen to mention that I spent the night in a snowstorm in Primm, Nevada last week? I know. It sounds like I'm making it up. It is a single week before Christmas. I have just finished playing for a large Christmas concert, and I am trying to make up for all the lost time, when DK happens to mention that we have to make a "day trip" to St. George, Utah. I think I maybe rolled my eyes at that point. I mean, a day trip to Utah? But he assured me that we would leave at 5:30 when the boys left for seminary in the morning, and we would be back by midnight that night. Six hours there, a few hours in a meeting, and then six hours home.

We pulled out of the driveway at 6:10 a.m. Forty minutes late is actually pretty good for us, when it comes to leaving on a trip. I packed a little makeup, a brush, some aspirin and some eyedrops in my purse. That was the extent of my luggage. As we drove down the street in the dark, I looked down at my four-inch black-patent heels, and thought, I probably should have brought some more practical shoes, just in case. Nah... DK said we would be home by midnight.

At 7:10, exactly one hour from home, we were driving through several inches of snow over the Cajon pass. One hour from Orange County, California... snow. A lot. Of. Snow. That was the first time I said, "KH, are you sure you want to do this???" That was the first time. I think I asked him that about twenty times before we reached St. George. (In case you haven't read the older posts, DK stands for "Darling Kevin," and KH means "Kevin Honey." I usually refer to him as DK, but it is often Kevin Honey, when I want something...)

We sat in our meeting in St. George for about four hours. About halfway through that four hours, it began to snow. St. George doesn't get a lot of snow, but over the next two hours, it got about four inches, so we headed out as quickly as our California tires would carry us. Don't worry, everyone said, as soon as you head south there won't be any more snow. Famous last words. We drove through several inches of snow in Las Vegas. I did not say it, but I was thinking it. I was thinking it really loudly: "I told you so...I told you so... I TOLD YOU SO!" Home by midnight, right, DK?

I called home and asked one of the boys to google road conditions for highway I-15. He told me it was closed at the state line. "Which state line?" I asked, hopefully. I'm not good with directions. Maybe I-15 was closed at the Colorado state line, or maybe the North Dakota state line. Montana? Wyoming? Nope. No such luck. Closed from Primm, Nevada to Baker, California. We were fast approaching Primm, and plowing through increasingly bad roads and driving snow. Everywhere we looked, trees were bent and broken under unaccustomed loads of snow. In Nevada.

Sure enough, when we reached Primm, we were immediately directed off the freeway... into a madhouse of stranded travelers and semi-trucks. There are three hotels in Primm, each with about 1200 guest rooms. So it should be easy to find a room. DK crunched through the snow at the first hotel while I sat in the car, calling the kids to tell them we wouldn't be home. As soon as he set foot in the casino he realized we were in trouble. There were at least a hundred people in line for rooms. It was 9:30 p.m., and we found out that the road had been closed since 10:00 a.m. Not good news. He went to the front of the line, and approached a man who had just been helped. He told DK that he had been in line for about six hours to get to that point. He said that customers without reservations were being charged the rack rate for rooms, which was over $200 per night, and that we would be lucky to get one at that price, because there were almost no rooms left. He handed DK a toll-free telephone number, and told him that he should call immediately for a reservation, even though he was standing in the hotel.

DK did not realize until after the man left, that he was very likely one of the Three Nephites... because he saved us that night. DK called the 800 number, and was told that of the three hotels, they had a handful of rooms left in only one. He said he could book us in a room, but that he would have to charge our credit card immediately. DK braced himself for the impact, and asked the price. The operator replied, "Well, sir, I can offer you our promotional 'Wednesdays in December' rate. That will be $5.00." DK wasn't sure he heard that right. Maybe it was a service fee. Or maybe they were charging by the hour. But no. He charged the card for $6.18, including tax! It turns out, that the hotel they booked us in...actually had no rooms. But they sent us to the third of the three hotels, where we were given VIP status, and had a room key within minutes. Between the three hotels, we saw at least 300 people standing in lines for rooms, who would no doubt be spending the night in the 20-degree weather in their cars, or on the floor of the casinos, while we watched the newscasts of the record-breaking snowstorm from our comfortable five-dollar room.

We had 12th-floor view of the freeway, where at about midnight, semi-trucks were beginning to line up on the freeway in anticipation of the 12-noon freeway opening the following day. By morning, there were thousands and thousands of cars and trucks lined up waiting for the opening. We pulled out of our hotel parking lot at about 10:30 a.m. after a nice steak and eggs breakfast, still doubtful that we would make it home that day. We were worried that it might take hours and hours just to get on the freeway. The Nevada state troopers were letting 1,000 vehicles at a time onto the freeway, with ten-minute breaks in between. At 11:50, a police car came around with a loudspeaker. "Please get in your vehicles and start your engines; we are going to put you onto the freeway first." We just looked at each other. Once again, we were the luckiest people in Primm. At 12:00 noon, the freeway opened. At 12:06, we were flying along at freeway the first 100 cars on the freshly-plowed road.

There is definitely a moral to this story. First, I'm not going to fall for that whole "day trip to Utah" ploy ever again. You know... fool me once, and all that. Also, I will probably be carrying my toothbrush in my purse for awhile. I will never go more than an hour away without some comfortable shoes. Although in my sexy black pants and high heels, I made some really interesting friends in the Primm Valley Casino. There was this one biker guy with gold teeth, some pretty sweet boots and awesome hair. Think Kurt Russell in "Escape From New York." We bonded. That was pretty funny, too... DK put me in the back of the line there while he passed the 100+ people to go to the front of the line, which is what DK does... my new friends all kept telling me that they had been there for hours, and it would not do any good to go up there, and I kept telling them that they just didn't know DK. Of course I was right, because half an hour later, the line hadn't moved three feet, and DK was back, whisking me off to the VIP line at Buffalo Bill's... ah, but I'm getting sidetracked. Sorry. The moral of the story is, pack a little bag. Even for a day trip. Because things happen... even when there isn't a snowball's chance in... well, you know.


Della Hill said...

Awesome story.
I agree that that nust have been one of the 3 nephites.
That is one of those times you say an extra thank you prayer. Or a few extra thank you prayers.
Glad you made it home safe, but it made for a great blog story.

Lisa--aka The Gardenweasel said...

It was ME that helped. I have super friend prayers....and since we had forgotten the boys for Seminary....

Lisa--aka The Gardenweasel said...

Hey, are you back from SD? I have been looking for a new song posting. I imagine it'll take some time to get it up and running, though.

Allie has been singing, can you say, "flat?"

dk/kh said...

Oh and before we left St. George, I wanted to get some $1.49 gas. Nice thing to carry cash, because CC was not working because the satelites were out with the snowstorm...for all of the gas stations in the area. Reminds me of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day when he can't get a satelite connection: Is it snowing in space?

Victoria said...

Yes, KH, it IS snowing. IN SPACE.

~ Jamie ~ said...

THAT is quite a story. I was captivated!