On Wednesday December 20th, 2006 I got up early, looked outside to determine my strategy. All the news channels and the weather service were predicting a system which would dump a stack of snow in the Denver Metro area. But that morning when I looked outside it had snowed - an inch of light feathery powdery stuff that looked innocent and benign.
I made my decision to go into work.
To be honest, that was the day of our office Christmas party, and I am never one to shy away from a party.
It only really started to snow at about 9 am. My office is located on the 11th floor - so we usually get a bird's eye view of the world outside. What we had at 10am was white out conditions. No problem, we would begin our monthly meeting early and have an early lunch. So while the world outside turned white we celebrated the holidays inside. We even congratulated ourselves that the restaurant we had chosen was so close by to our offices. Then the announcement came - all non essential personnel to please go home.
We finished our lunch, grabbed our coats, wished everyone a safe trip home and then headed down to the Market Street Station to catch the first available bus north to my Park n Ride. This is the line at the Station.
Funny thing about weather - it tends to disrupt bus schedules. We found out to our dismay that the 200 people milling around were all waiting for one bus - the very one that I happened to want. We found what we thought was the end of the line (it snaked around and around) and then we stood and waited, and waited. An hour later the bus arrived. We packed it in, and off it drove. The traffic was heavy, the snow was falling and blowing around. Visibility was terrible. Worst, cars, pick ups and large trucks simply got stuck in the drifts. Snow plows could not keep up, and the stuck cars got in the way of the plows.
Eventually our bus made it to our Park n Ride. Conditions outside were pretty bad - biting cold, blowing snow and poor visibility. We all stumbled to our cars, and tried to get out of the parking lot. There was a lot of blown snow stacked up and in some places it was pretty deep - at least 2 feet deep.
Luckily Kevin and called ahead and had reserved me a room at the La Quinta Motel opposite the Park n Ride. So all I had to do was get my car to the motel. The snow was pretty deep in places, and my car really battled to get out. I eventually made it to La Quinta only to get stuck in a snow drift in the parking lot. I checked in. I then decided that it would be better to see whether I could move my car. So I got the trusty snow shovel out, dug my car out, backed it out without too much trouble, and then dug out another snow drift in order to park my car out of people's way. I then went back into my motel room to collapse and listen to the local channels.
The staff at La Quinta motel were excellent. The Motel was full of stranded people.
I spent Wednesday night, Thursday and Thursday night in that motel. The worst thing (apart from the boredom) is that everything else around us closed down too. No restaurants, no shops were open. Lucky for me I had stuffed myself on Wednesday lunch, because all I had for dinner was vending machine food groups, and breakfast was the usual stodgy motel breakfast.
Fortunately the Village Inn across the parking lot opened for lunch. They were running on a skeleton staff and offered a one item menu: eggs, bacon, hash browns, pancakes and strong coffee. All for $8. I had a 10 minute wait, and the service was excellent. Angels come in many disguises.
Thursday I also did some snow clearing. But the parking lot was a sheet of ice. Four wheel drive cars and pick ups were battling to get out, and people were getting stuck. I decided to stay put. Even if I did get out of this parking lot and onto the highway I still had problems at the other end - like whether the off ramps from the I-25 were adequately plowed for my little car. Also my neighborhood was not yet dug out. So if I left I may end up getting stuck at the other end.
Below is a picture of my car at the parking lot of the Motel.
This is a general shot of the parking area. The snow was about 2 feet deep in some areas.
Here's my car after some strenuous shoveling.
This is Matt from # 220 who helped me out with some shoveling and then borrowed my snow shovel to dig out his car and some other people's cars. Everyone was extremely helpful.
I eventually left the comfort of my motel on Friday morning. It was still pretty icy and snow packed. The I-25 north bound was nicely plowed and cleared. The off ramp were problematic, and I thought I'd get stuck getting home. But thankfully I managed to get home in one piece.
Here are some photos of our house the day after the blizzard.
The snow is definitely going to be sticking around for a while. Road plowing has created huge banks of snow keeping everyone in. Parking lots at shopping centers have huge mounds of snow making finding a parking spot quite difficult. Trucks filled with stock to replenish the shelves got stuck too, so most shops have empty spaces on their shelves.
Today (Saturday) Kevin and I drove around the neighborhood. Out here we have wonderful views of snowy sun lit fields and rising up like some magical thing, the Rockies touch the great blue sky. It doesn't get any better than this.