The Snowstorm and the Cabin

 

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Before I can blog about the amazing sweet-sixteen trip to Seattle, I must blog about the incredible but sadly truncated adventure to a cabin in the snow. It was a doozy. Not all bad but definitely one for the books.

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The thing about booking a cabin for a winter holiday is that you need to reserve it well in advance. Summer is best. August at the latest because all the cabins that allow dogs get booked up pretty quick and for me, going with dogs is the WHOLE REASON I go to the snow. Have you seen my dogs in the snow? It’s a sight of pure joy. When I booked this cabin I had no idea it would be in the middle of a storm. How could I? I mean, I know it’s always a possibility, I’ve just been lucky before.

We watched the weather patterns feverishly as our trip drew near. It was the talk of the table during our Christmas dinner. Providently there was a break in the weather in the early hours of the day of our trip.  We weren’t supposed to show up until afternoon but we figured we better get there early to avoid slipping off the side of the mountain in the middle of a storm.

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We made it! Well, technically we made it to the road below our cabin. The driveway to our cabin was not plowed and there was no driving up it because it was super steep, even for a 4×4 with chains.  That meant we had to park on the road below our cabin and hoof it up a steep hill through the snow for about five hot sweaty minutes. It was not for the faint of heart!  I however have been working out regularly for the last three months and it was just a *mere challenge* for me. (humblebragpfbltkjsklt…) My family on the other hand was a bit winded and not too pleased. I shrugged off their complaints and told them they needed to toughen up and enjoy “the snow experience.”  Yeah, everybody loves Vacation Brenda, obviously.

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Finally, we stumbled into our cabin stamping snow off our feet and shedding layers like they were going out of style. Payam built a roaring fire, I mixed up some hot chocolate and we cuddled up in our cozy pajamas and pretended we were bears about to hibernate. It was all very charming.

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That night it snowed and snowed. At first, I loved it.  There is nothing like looking up from your cozy bed and seeing snow flurries flying sideways past your window. I’ve never really done that before and it felt magical. Except in the back of my head, I was starting to have this nagging worry about what we were going to do over the next couple of days as the storm continued and we didn’t really have an exit strategy let alone a three days snowed-in strategy.

In the past, I’ve always over-packed and everyone hated me for having to heft boxes of food up and down hills for meals we never cooked because we ended up going into town for pizza or something so I thought I’d be smart this time and pack super light. We packed snacks for the road and leftovers for dinner but that wasn’t going to last us for days and days.

I had noticed that our Airbnb hosts had some frozen vegetables in the freezer so we wouldn’t starve to death or anything but it wasn’t looking good for my picky eaters. But my big fear was how would we get down the mountain if it was really storming? Would we skid off the road on black ice? What about Payam and the fall he had last time? What if we needed to get to the hospital and we were snowed in? You know how anxiety-brain works. I couldn’t get the worries out of my brain.

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The next morning I called the Airbnb hosts and asked if we could stay longer in order to wait out the storm. They were reluctant because they had more guests coming right on the heels of our departure. It was a tough spot to be in.  Stay and risk being snowed in or go early and sacrifice the fun trip we had planned so many months ago.

I discussed my fears with Payam and sadly he agreed. We better leave early and be safe instead of sorry. Payam and I are true Southern Californians with thin blood and a healthy fear of actual weather. Neither of us had ever put chains on before. We didn’t even have any before this year. I’m so lucky that my dad hunted some down for us just days before we left because sure enough, we needed them.

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During a break in the storm Bug and I tracked down the hill and shoveled out our truck from the night’s storm and what the snowplow pushed up against it when they plowed.  The truck was buried under a good two or three feet of chunky frozen snow. We hammered and shoveled and dug ourselves out like *super troopers*. It only took a few minutes and then we went back up the hill to start carrying our suitcases and many layers of coats and blankets and dog gear down the hill. We used our host’s sled and it was pretty quick work. Payam rested because he tweaked his knee on a near fall on some black ice. Yes, he did fall again but he’s okay.

Do I feel like an idiot for continuing to try to take my family to the snow? Yes, I do. I do feel defeated. Maybe it’s just not meant to be.

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But it wasn’t all sad. We let the dogs out and they loved it like I knew they would.

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I made a TikTok or two about the beauty of it all.

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The kids took their photos and bragged on their social media. It wasn’t a total loss.

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The snow was so pretty and we did really love it. It just wasn’t the trip I had planned. If 2020 and 2021 have taught me anything it’s how to deal with disappointment. I’m still not an expert at handling disappointment but I know it when I see it and this was a good old-fashioned helping of pandemic style disappointment.

We fit in a few more snowball fight photos and then packed it in.

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Goodbye snowy mountains.

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We weren’t winners at who-gets-to-have-the-best-winter-vacation but we got home safe and alive and nobody slipped off the side of the mountain or drove their truck like a boat into the cars in front of them. We got home safe and sound and just a little bit sad.

Finally December

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November has been the longest month ever. I probably feel this way because I’ve lived beyond my means (like an idiot) and I’ve been waiting for my quarterly paycheck to come so I can pay those nasty credit card bills back down. A watched pot never boils and all that. It’s been painfully long. Every day checking my bank account, every day sad. I know, at least I have a paycheck to look forward to when so many people don’t. I have a lot to be thankful for. But I was talking to Bug and she said November has been dreadfully long for her too. A few other friends have mentioned that they seem to be going through old crap that they thought they were over so maybe it’s not just me. And that got me thinking…

When you find yourself going through something that you thought you were over (for me it’s money problems. I never seemed to learn those rich dad poor dad lessons…) instead of feeling extra crappy about being such a failure AGAIN, we should feel a little bit relieved because we have a safety net! We’ve been here before and we survived. Last time I was here I didn’t think I was going to survive. I thought my debt was going to snowball until I was homeless.

But I’ve done this before and I did survive. I survived and thrived in fact. Here we are in familiar territory and we have the benefit of knowing we made it through in the past. Maybe this is just a circular argument or I’m not explaining it very well.  But it should give me some comfort knowing that I’ve done this before. It’s just the waiting that’s so hard. Even with all the wisdom in the world it still is so hard to be patient and wait for hard times to pass.

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In the meantime, some beautiful fall weather has been passing and I’m worried I haven’t truly enjoyed it because I’ve been so stressed. We did have a really nice Thanksgiving (I cooked a turkey AGAIN and didn’t fail!) and we got our holiday photos taken by Yvonne. Do you know Yvonne Valtierra aka the OG blogger, Joy Unexpected? She’s a magical photographer.

I met Yvonne ages ago. I think it was 2008 when we were both mommy bloggers doing the cheeseburger party or something (links seem to be lost to time but there are some here if you really want to dig deep.)  She visited us once at the beach and took a photo of Bug’s foot in her polka-dotted slip-on generic Payless Vans and my foot next to it in my flip flop with a paint smudge on the side. It was such a simple photo but in that very small snapshot of life you could see so much about us. I have it framed and it sits on my bedside table to this day bringing me memories of when Bug was two and how she used to hang beside me like my shadow. Now I’m the one hanging beside her like a shadow but that bond is the same. We have always been so close and Yvonne captures that. That’s what I really love about Yvonne is her ability to see all the subtleties.

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I’ve hired lots of my friends as photographers over the years and I love them all. Each of them captures something sweet and different from the other. I think as a photographer I just have such a love of other people who can see the world through a camera lens and tell stories with how they frame a shot. Little looks, glances, the way the light sits… I’m just a sucker for a good photographer.  If you are looking for a photographer in Southern California I can recommend many but I especially want to recommend Yvonne.

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This one looks like a perfume ad. Who knew age spots could be sexy?!!

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I’m only sharing a few shots here and I have dozens more but I don’t want to oversaturate this blog. I’m sure they will show up somewhere someday because they are my favorite. Thank you Yvonne, if you are reading this! You did such an amazing job! I hope you keep on doing exactly what you are doing. You’ve hit the sweet spot.