The Snowstorm and the Cabin



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.



Goodbye snowy mountains.


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.



My life is ruled by dogs. While I love them to pieces, they are HUGE pains in the butt and complicate my life on the regular. As they say, Pets our our children now and plants are our pets. What does that make my real children? I don’t know, maybe the overlords who demand obedience in the form of taxi-driving and ATM services?

I thought I’d share the story of Cody getting skunked. Yep, it happened. Everyone has a skunk story and now I finally have mine.

It was three o’clock in the morning and Cody sat by my bed panting loudly. This isn’t because he’s hot. Nah, it was probably 66 degrees (F) in the house and we were all snuggled comfortably under our comforters. Not the dogs, they sleep in their beds but us people had our comforters pulled up to our ears which means it was NOT hot in the house. (As opposed to summer nights where we have feet hanging out of the covers or in my case: lay completely naked sweating from all crevices.)

Cody pants because it is a form of communication for him. He has many voices: the loud alerting bark, the loud yelling bark of excitement, the low grumpy grumble, the outflow of air when he flops himself down onto the ground in defeat, the wheezy wine when he wants something but we’re ignoring him and the standing pant. He just stands there in your face and pants loudly. This is probably because he has learned that if he is too loud Payam will wake up and yell at him. He doesn’t like that. He likes it when I wake up and do his bidding without waking the other master who is more strict. The loud pants wake me up but not Payam. I am a light sleeper.

I can’t figure out what Cody wants but I go through the checklist like you do with a child. Thirsty? Nope, you’ve got water. You need to go outside to pee? Nope, you insist on standing next to the front door and not the side door to the backyard. If the dogs are really desperate to pee, the backyard will do. Hungry? Well, that’s a dumb question. Golden Retrievers are always hungry but we don’t eat in the middle of the night and he knows this. It’s got to be because he wants to go out into the front yard to pee, where we have real grass.

A little backstory: Payam stays up later than me. He’s a night owl and will go to bed anywhere between 11pm and 2am. That’s just the way he’s wired. One of his nightly rituals before he finally turns in for bed is to let the dogs out the front door where they run freely without a leash into the dark to some spot in the greenbelt next to our house to pee. They love this moment of freedom and always come back without much trouble. Letting your dog off leash is strictly forbidden in our over-zealous HOA-run neighborhood but we do it sneakily at night when nobody else is looking. A guilty pleasure. Usually this is no problem. One time our dogs stopped at the end of the driveway and curled up their lips in a growl. We figured it was coyotes hiding just out of our vision and they came back in of their own accord. But that’s really the worst of it.

Until last Wednesday when Cody came to the side of my bed and panted. Like I said earlier, I ran through the checklist and figured out he needed to pee but insisted on going out the front door. This must mean that Payam didn’t let them out that night. Maybe he went to bed early and threw off their rhythm, who knows. Anyway I was tired and figured, whatever dude. Go out the front, just get it done so I can go back to bed.

By this time Whiskey was right behind Cody and as they sauntered down the driveway between our parked cars, they spotted something that I couldn’t see. Cody perked his ears up in full alert and before I could figure out what was happening, both dogs were running full-speed down our street. Then I saw it. A small black undulating hair carpet with a white stripe down the middle. The dogs were right behind it and I was frozen in horror watching the whole thing go down in slow-motion, Nooooooooooooooooooo-oooooooooooooooohhhhhh!!!!!!! CODY WHISKEY COME HERE!!! CODY! COME BACK! It was horrible and it was like I was stuck in the body of an old lady who had no hope of ever turning this around.

I finally jolted out of my stupor and cracked into action and chased them down the street in my pajamas and bare feet. I felt the slice of a small piece of glass going through the ball of my left foot but kept running after them until I could see the skunk cornered between the curb of our neighbor’s house, their cars and my two barking dogs. Whiskey still had his cone on from the surgery he had from being bit by a neighbor’s Australian Shepherd. (Did I share that story already? No, I did not. I’ll have to get to that but it just proves that these dogs are a pain in the butt regularly.) So when the skunk backed up and squirted them from what I could see from a safe distance, Cody got it full in the face and Whiskey got just the mist of it since he was protected by his cone.

Cody immediately backed up and started trying to wipe the spray off his nose onto the asphalt. He whined and rubbed his muzzle on the ground on both sides. Somehow I got both dogs to follow me back to the house without touching them, Cody stopping to wipe his nose repeatedly as we walked two houses back to our house. I stood at the front door not knowing what to do. Bring this stench into the house? I couldn’t leave them out here. Wash them with a hose at three am? Did we even have tomato soup??? I needed help.

Without thinking it through clearly,  I brought them into the house with intentions of taking them directly to the side yard but before I could stop him, Cody proceeded roll all over the floor to wipe his nose on our tile floor and then the expensive Persian rug in our living room. I grabbed him as quickly as I could by the collar and drug him to the backyard via our side door. What a mess.  How many things did he touch on his way to the side yard? Me, the ping pong table legs, another rug in the dining room, the dining room table and chairs, the sliding glass door and screen… you get the picture, he’s a big dog. Every surface was touched by that awful stench and would have to be cleaned for weeks to come. It was a nightmare.

The funny thing was it didn’t really smell like what I remember skunk smelling like. In fact, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Maybe I was already nose blind from the trauma of it all. I remember it smelling like a combination of burnt popcorn and burnt rubber. Still foul as hell but not that sickening stench you notice three miles away when you’re driving down the highway and there’s a dead skunk on the side of the road. Maybe it sours with time like cigarettes. I’m thinking that’s what happens now that it’s been several days and we are still living with it.

I woke Payam up and told him the bad news. We decided together that there was very little we could do about it at three in the morning so I drug the dog beds outside and put them near our bedroom slider that exits to our backyard. The dogs were going to have to spend the night outside but at least they were close to us so they could still feel like they were part of the pack and not excommunicated, even though at this point I was thinking they deserved to be excommunicated.

The problem with this new situation though is that being outside meant being on full-time guard dog duty for Whiskey and he does not take that job lightly. Nope, he was not going to sleep a wink when there were so many night noises to alert us about. Every little scritch of a mouse or tweet of a bird was going to be announced and investigated. He was barking all night much to our horror. The neighbors! They are going to kill us! But that stench! What could we do???

We lit every candle we could find and then Payam went back to bed. I tried to sleep but you know how well that will work with me when I struggle with 3am insomnia anyway.  I stayed up on google researching every possible solution.

It turns out there are a lot of methods to get rid of skunk smell and none of them are quick or easy. The first obvious one is tomato juice: you can rub it in their fur and eventually while you scrub to get the red out, you’ll get the skunk oil out too. Kind of like those coloring tablets you take to see where you need to brush your teeth more.  We didn’t have any tomoto juice on hand and there was no way I was bringing the stench back into the house to muscle through that at 3am. I figured I’d try that when it got to be a reasonable hour.

Then there’s a concoction of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. I also read about putting out pans of vinegar and boiling vinegar on the stove. I got up and washed the tile floor where they’d tread three times. First with vinegar and water and then with some pine-scented cleaner I got from the hardware store ages ago and then lastly another round of just plain water. It helped a lot. Boiling vinegar on the stove helped a lot too. I set out pans of vinegar on the ping pong table hoping it would absorb the stench or at least mask it. Then I went back to bed and researched some more.

Around six am I got up and baked some old gingerbread cookie dough I had leftover in the freezer.  Then I baked banana bread. It all helped. I took Bug to school and started researching groomers. I knew if I tried to bathe Cody (who is HUGE and strong) it would be a colossal mess of skunk AND tomato juice all over my bathroom and house. Maybe I could find someone and pay them to do it for me. That seemed like the best solution but if you remember we have been having the worst time finding groomers lately —see story of me shaving Whiskey myself. Somehow I got super lucky and called a mobile groomer who just happened to have a cancellation that morning.


The mobile groomer showed up and took Cody off to be bathed. Whiskey couldn’t be bathed because he still had stitches from his surgery and getting water on his stitches could complicate the healing process. Thankfully, Whiskey was the least of our concerns. He has a faint stench of skunk but nothing like Cody who got it full in the face. The groomer washed Cody three times with the strongest deodorizing shampoos made for dogs. Cody came back two hours later three shades lighter and fluffy as a cloud. It was a 500% improvement but there was stiiiiiiiiiiiiiil just the faintest scent of skunk under the strong floral smell of the shampoo and conditioner that the groomer used.  If you got really up in his face and scratched his ears it was still there but we figured that was a win.

Two days later the smell of the shampoo and conditioner have started to wear off. We’ve thrown out our front and side door doormats. We’ve thrown out the dog beds. We’ve washed their collars and leashes with every kind of foaming deodorizing powder and detergent we have. We massage dry shampoo into Cody’s mane nightly and then brush him out while wearing gloves. We’ll have our Persian rugs professionally cleaned as soon as we can budget it and that’s pretty much the best we can do. It is a lot better. It’s not horrible but it is still there. We still need to power wash our front porch and the pavers in the back yard but it’s manageable. We burn incense and candles regularly. We run our whole house fan when it’s not too cold outside. It’s fading.

You know what we don’t do anymore? Let our dogs out the front door unleashed. Especially around Halloween time when skunks are feasting on rotting jack o’lanterns. Lesson learned.