NORTH LAKE TAHOE, California/Nevada Dec. 14, 2009 - A powerful storm rolled into the Lake Tahoe region last Friday and didn't quit until it had dumped 5.5 feet of new snow at the ski resorts' upper elevations, with eight feet of snow falling in the last seven days.
"These are absolutely some of the best early winter conditions we've ever had," said Tourism Director Andy Chapman of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. "The past two storms have really set us up for the holidays and a long ski and board season."
Sounds like a guy who doesn't have to move his own snow. Or maybe he does, but he just wants the skiers to come spend their money and not think about mundane things like that.
I'm not at the 'higher elevations' like the tops of the ski resorts, and I certainly didn't get 5.5 feet of snow, but the coupla feet we got since Friday kept me and everybody else busy.
Saturday, I cleared my driveway three times, including at 11:30 PM, and once on Sunday. This was a warm storm and the snow had a good, though not extreme, water content and it behooved me to not let it build up to where the eight tiny, tired horsies in my 16-year-old snowthrower either wouldn't throw it or would just make ice bricks which I'da had to clear outta the discharge chute with a motorcycle tire iron every three feet.
We got a coupla day break in the storms yesterday and I detailed the work of the weekend by getting all of my driveway back, which entailed hundreds of square feet of shovel work to loosen packed snow so the 'thrower would throw it. We've got at least three more months of winter and if I let this go now it will just cause problems later.
I became re-acquainted with 64-year-old muscles that slept through the spring and summer. It hurts to type today.
It helped that The Berm Fairy came by each day. Thank you Dave, you saved me considerable work and the Heineken berm-removal fuel is on the way.
The icing on the cake was that we had five, count 'em five, power outages on Saturday and Sunday. For the first one, which fortunately came and went in daylight, me and Mrs. G went to Emergency Power, which means I put 8 D-cells in a boom box and listened to some good country music on KVMR.
Mrs. G called the power company and an actual person answered the phone and said for her to send me outside and check the circuit breakers and see if I could spot any downed lines since nobody else had called. I've been here 30 years and knew that probably no one was home at the other ten houses on our 11-house leg, but I put on my boots and went out and stood in three feet of snow and checked the breaker and looked around at the power lines, all OK.
A few minutes later the guy called back and said someone else had called and said their power was out as well and they had heard something go 'pop' and that it wasn't just us after all and they would send out a crew. Nice personal touch, that. The PUD crew cruised around and finally replaced something about two power poles from my house.
The next outage came in the middle of the night and we couldn't have cared less. The only reason we knew it was out for a coupla hours was from all the little green digital clocks Mrs. G had to reset when she got up in the morning.
Good thing they got that one fixed. Do not mess with our coffee maker's ability to make coffee!
The next one was on Sunday afternoon. Mrs. G was blasé by this time and didn't bother with Emergency Power. I came in from the driveway and she was sitting on the couch with her MP3 in her ear. She finally noticed me and shouted hello. Heh.
There were a couple more real short outages of a few minutes each. One of 'em came as it was getting dark on Sunday and made me cuss because you never know how long they're going to last and an outage at night is a pain in the rear - getting batteries and lamp oil into everything and maybe having to fire up the woodstove etc. since the gas heater won't work with no power. I wonder how folks with wood pellet stoves get by, since those feed the pellets electrically. Shovel 'em in by hand, I guess.
We decided to go to 'power outage plan B' on Sunday evening even though the power was on, which is to eschew using our electric appliances and go out to dinner. There's nothing quite as frustrating as having an outage in the midst of cooking dinner. Generally, we drive 'til we get to the first place where the sign is lit, indicating 'power on', and chow down.
We went to our favorite Young Gentlemen's Drinking & Fighting Establishment, which is the very first place you can get to from our house with a neon sign, and had a nice dinner. One of the power company trouble crews was there having dinner as well, and I thanked them for their hard work over the weekend. These guys and other crews were slammed over the weekend and looked it.
It's a beautiful sunshiny day today. I have a few details to mop up outside, but it's all worth it to live in this place.