Hey, it’s snowing! And it’s going to snow again soon! That means many of the transplants who live here are freaking out about how to drive in this shit while the natives are freaking out about they’re going to drive in harmony with all the transplants. Should be a lousy commute! Good luck to you all!
I work from home, so such things do not concern me. In fact, I’m going to use my extra time not braving the highways to reminisce about my three favorite Colorado blizzards of all-time. Sound fun? Of course it does! Let’s go…
Sophomore year of high school, and for some reason Jefferson County Schools are getting out early. My mom taught in the system just a town over from my high school, so we decide we’re going to meet up to see The Edge* at the Denver West movie theater before we hit Joslin’s in Villa Italia for a crazy sale on boys’ clothing. Then we’ll stop by Dino’s Italian restaurant (R.I.P.) and head home to meet my dad. This is one of the most 90s sentences I’ve ever written.
*For those who inexplicably can’t remember this awesome movie – it’s the one where Anthony Hopkins plays a billionaire who’s married to model Elle Macpherson and they travel to the Alaskan wilderness for a photo shoot with Alec Baldwin, who also happens to be having an affair with Macpherson. Their plane crashes and Hopkins and Baldwin fight a bear while trying to figure out which one of them is going to kill the other. It’s written by David Mamet and it kicks fucking ass.
We get out of the theater and it’s still sunny. Head over to Joslin’s, no problem. I pick out like 4 pairs of pants and 8 new shirts as the snow starts assaulting the Front Range. Thanks to the lunatic sale, my clothes cost less than $100 total, and it’s turning into a damn fine day.
Back to the car, and holy shit it’s really coming down now! A stop at Dino’s and our drive has become interesting. Thick, heavy, wet snow pelts the windshield at an alarming clip, and my mom and I have to climb I-70 toward Genesee. We reach the exit before ours and are informed by a state trooper that the highway is now closed.
So, what normally takes 5 minutes of highway time and 7 more minutes through the winding roads of Genesee to get home from that point has become a hell of a lot longer thanks to having to go down US-40 through Morrison, head up Hwy 285 to the switchbacks of N. Turkey Creek Road, through Evergreen, and back down I-70 east eventually to home stopping every few minutes to clear the windshield wipers because the snow is like damp cake frosting and coming down at an unreal clip.
Total time on the road: 4.5 hours.
We arrive with our dinner at 10:25, put it in the microwave and have a nice family dinner watching The Tonight Show. Nothing like some hearty, red sauce Italian food right before falling asleep. Even considering doing that now and I can feel the acid reflux coming.
I loved this day. The Edge is still one of my favorite movies, Dino’s always holds a special place in my heart, but more than anything I kind of loved that drive. It was scary in a very real way that feels fun now since we ended up okay, but I remember leaning forward in my seat not knowing if we were going to make it and only being able to see the white line on the passenger side for navigation. My mom handled the car like a boss, and the 4.5 hours mostly flew by even if we weren’t. I can’t imagine we went much more than 15 mph the entire trip, but it’s incredibly fun to feel like an explorer or a pioneer, even if you’re in a Jeep Cherokee Laredo with your mom and bags full of clothes and rapidly cooling ravioli.
Junior year of college at CSU, and Spring Break has just ended the week prior. We have classes on Monday, and the snow starts to fall. It continues through the night and through the next day, but I don’t notice because I’m a genius and schedule my Tuesday/Thursday classes to start at 2:10. It’s important to build in a ton of sleep when you’re 21 and drink a lot.
So, Tuesday the 18th I’m sitting on my couch probably catching up on the Real World/Road Rules Challenge dreading the idea of heading out in the shit to catch the bus to campus when OH HOSANNAH my roommates return from their classes and gleefully announce that campus is closing at 2 pm. “So, all classes that start after 2:00 are cancelled?” I seek to confirm. “Yep!” they tell me. I settle in awash in the satisfaction of suddenly having nothing to do only possible as a privileged college kid with no job, virtually no financial responsibilities, and, obviously, no children. I had just broken up with my girlfriend of nearly three years too, so I was about as free as I’d ever been.
Heavy, wet snow obliterates our house blanketing it with 31” as we play video games in our basement, drink, and revel in a second, impromptu week of Spring Break. The next morning, we start digging out a bit but notice our chick neighbors two doors down have climbed onto their roof and created a bitchin’ sledding course off the top of the house onto a huge pile of snow below. So naturally we join them in an ad hoc X-Games style sledding bacchanal.
We manage to dig out my roommate Keith’s big Dodge truck enough to find an open liquor store to stock up and party with the chicks two doors down. Were these chicks hot? Reader, I am confident in telling you that not really, no, they weren’t. But neither were we, so it was nice fit! We ended up partying with them a bunch, and this was the first time. In fact, we partied so much that week, one of the ladies got fired from her job at Barnes & Noble for not going in. She said her car was still snowed in, but that was horseshit, and everyone knew it.
But that’s college. You’re an irresponsible ass, and there’s really no better time for Mother Nature to drop a shitload of snow on you to enable your most juvenile tendencies.
I’m 25 working at a public policy and lobbying firm in Golden and realizing with a creeping dread that this place is a total meatgrinder and not really for me. It would take me another five months to find my way out of here. We are scheduled to have the week between Christmas and New Year’s off, and December 20 being a Wednesday, the coming Snowpocalypse extends this by a couple of days.
I get sent home before lunch as the snow promises to make traffic a living hell for everyone in the metro area, and I drive a tiny 2-door Honda Civic. Since this office communicates via Skype, they ask me to log back in and stay in touch with everyone over the next few days. Right.
I get home, open up my computer, and then check it sporadically in between walking two blocks to my local liquor store and playing Xbox. Blessedly, no one else in the office seems to be working either, or at least not working on anything that concerns me, so my notifications remain quiet. Kristin works in the mall at this point, but that ends up closed (I’m sure all the last minute holiday shoppers were thrilled), so she piles into her SUV and picks me up where we abscond to her apartment in Glendale and hang out.
We’ve been dating two years at this point, which is a lovely point in a relationship to end up snowed in together. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have the crazy amount of time off that I do, so she has to retreat back to the real world before me. Still! We’ve only been back in Denver for about half a year and finally have our footing underneath us a bit more, so it’s cool to feel fully independent, adult(ish), and together wrapped up on the couch watching movies.
The only downer of this blizzard is the piss poor job the Hickenlooper administration does of plowing the roads which ends up gnarling my poor little Civic’s undercarriage in the frozen weeks that follow, but I’m consistently struck by the kindness of strangers who help me get unstuck regularly.
Now I’m an adult and I mostly find the snow annoying. Why? Because I have kids, and it’s harder to let them play outside when the weather sucks. It’s not impossible, but it does come with a lot more bitching and a shorter runtime. When we end up trapped in the house, that’s when the knives emerge, we end up drinking at like 1:00 pm on a weekday, and everyone’s climbing the walls. Plus, shoveling. Fuck shoveling. It’s one of the only things I miss about apartment living.
But hey, enjoy the snow everyone! And may your snow adventures be filled with as little responsibility as possible!