Sunday, October 13, 2013

Waiting For Rescue

This is a continuation of my first storm post, The Wrath Of Atlas.

Day 3

Man makes plans ... and God laughs.
-Michael Chabon

It was at the 51-hour mark that I awoke on Sunday and slowly got moving.

By now, we had a routine, of sorts. Coffee from melted ice-machine-ice and instant packets. Oatmeal or one of yesterday's cinnamon rolls. Then snow to melt so we could use the commodes. Plowing to be attempted. Waiting to be done.

The guys had headed out not long after I'd finally rolled off my couch to attempt plowing the now-much-slushier road. The Chef Lady and I busied ourselves with what we could inside Allison.

The day dragged.

There's a certain point where you hit a wall -- after the eighteenth pot of melted snow, after ten sudoku puzzles, halfway through your second book -- and you start to lament your lost days. We were supposed to have had guests this weekend; thankfully, the storm had hit at a time where they didn't get stuck here, too. We should be cleaning buildings by now to get things in order for the next crowd -- we can't even get to a couple of them. It's not quite hopelessness, but there is that frustrating feeling of treading water. We're not moving ahead. We're not even moving backwards. We've slipped into this strange state of just ... existing within our valley.

I take my camera for a walk to capture some of the carnage and I'm just amazed.

The drift behind Allison will likely be there for days after the rest have melted. Trees have been snapped like matchsticks -- while neighboring trees are untouched. Here and there, a tree took out a light bulb. Somehow, our buildings have escaped mostly unscathed, with a couple of dents in tin roofs but nothing majorly wrong found yet.

More than anything, though, it was eerily quiet. The travel ban had been lifted, but there was no highway noise filtering down to us. I hadn't yet seen or heard a plane fly over. And whatever wildlife had survived was still hiding in the trees.

We still had the crank radio, thankfully. The stranded DJ had kept me sane thus far, and now the little bits of news he brought us kept me grounded in reality.

Power was still out all over. People were stranded all over. We were really just one more immobile spot in the Hills.


Day 4

Monday brought a different feeling.

For me, it had something to do with the fact that my parents were on their way to Rapid. My great-uncle had died the week before, and his funeral had been delayed twice because of the weather; now, it was slated for Tuesday morning, and Mom and Dad were making the trek.

I'd intended to go to the funeral before; now, it suddenly seemed even more important.

After the usual morning, the M-Man and I strapped on our "snowshoes" and headed for our two upper lodges. No one had been able to get to these buildings yet and we weren't sure what to expect.

Somehow, although trees had blocked access and fallen to within inches of both, they were intact. Chimneys were sound. Roofs didn't leak. Aside from a defrosted mini-fridge making a puddle, they were both dry.

It was 2:00 when we all gathered at the Bossman's house again, this time on the porch. We were at an impasse; he and the M-Man had made a few calls to scare up a plow, but given our spotty cell coverage we weren't sure if anyone would come. In the meantime, it was sixty degrees outside and the snow was melting fast enough to sound like rain.

And since we still didn't have power, we still couldn't get things moving in camp.

It was about then that the M-Man thought he heard a noise. Just an engine, but the first one we'd really heard in days. After a moment, though, it was quiet again.

... Poor Sophie.
I called my mother -- they'd made it to town and, if we could at least get to the end of the road, they could come get us. I point out that hiking out isn't an option for a couple of us, and our vehicles can't hop the trees that we know are downed. But hey, maybe someone will plow us out. I promise to call if the situation changes.

We're all a little loopy, the gorgeous weather getting to us. I make a couple snow angels for no apparent reason -- and then once again, the M-Man hears a noise. This time, I hear it too.

The Chef Lady all but sends me home. After all, if someone is coming, I should have a bag packed. And if someone's coming, we'll want to leave as fast as possible.

I admit she has a point.

At the 83-hour mark, the M-Man and I both head for the duplex so he can also pack up his last couple of things -- and in the parking lot, we hear a noise.

More importantly, though, we see something.

There it is. There's a payloader, shoving a tree aside, just a hundred feet from where we're standing.

Someone had come to get us.

The scramble began. Within a few minutes, we're all packed. The payloader at last makes it into the parking lot, and we meet Dusty, our new hero. As it turns out, Dusty knows the guy that maintains our road, and he had been at the dinner we held the week before for all of the locals affected by the Gaslight's fire.

It had taken him four hours to get to us.

It's just after 4:00 when we pull out of camp, quickly finding that no, we would not have been able to get out without help. He'd cut through four feet of snow in places, and shoved so many trees aside that I lost count in the first half-mile.

Out on the highway, we can see similar destruction everywhere. Trees have been destroyed, some of them hitting buildings or taking out fences. We seem to be in a "lucky" stretch -- we don't see any dead cattle along the way, even though there are several ranches in the area.

And, a little after 4:30, I walked into a hotel room. One with power. And water. And a hot shower.

It was something like normalcy, and it was wonderful.

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