Being snowbound isn’t the same in the High Country |

Being snowbound isn’t the same in the High Country

I’d like to say the Blizzard of 2003 forced me to stay at home, sequestered with my husband, daughter and cats, Binky and Fat-Boy.

But no. Here in Summit County, the only people who don’t get snow days are snowplow operators and reporters.

I remember the blizzard of 1988, when 5 feet of snow prevented us from getting out our front door but failed to bring down the neighborhood’s phone lines.

My boss called. I needed to get to work! There were photos to take and stories to write! Just LOOK at all this snow! I climbed out a tiny window in the bathroom and skied to work just to learn no one was around to interview because they were all snowbound in their houses.

My boss never showed up for work, either, and I hold her forever in my debt.

I like to tell our daughter, Erin, that in my childhood we never got snow days, and we had to walk 3 miles uphill to and from school in 4 feet of snow every day. Erin likes to remind me that I grew up in San Diego, where, according to her grandmother, it never snows.

“Dang!” I say. “I’d forgotten that!”

In sunny San Diego, we never got days off for extreme weather. School officials didn’t care if it was 103 outside; that’s why they built new schools with air conditioning they kept at a steady 44 degrees.

They didn’t care if an earthquake off the shores of Hawaii was creating the best surf waves ever; they didn’t care if you had fallen asleep in the sand on the beach and now resembled a fresh-cooked lobster. I always envied kids who lived in the Snow Belt.

So I moved there. My first winter, a blizzard threatened to keep us holed up at home for days on end. I was all for it. We might not have enough food to get us through, our pipes might freeze and cut us off from water, the phone lines might go down and keep us incommunicado. Bring it on! I wanted an adventure!

We woke up to darkness. Snow had blown, drifted and fallen all over Summit County, encasing our house in an igloo from which we could not escape.

We built a fire in the wood stove.

We made hot chocolate and curled up under blankets.

We pulled out our favorite books.

Hours later, we – “we” being Erin and I – heard the rumbling. Snowplows to the rescue! Front-end loaders! Snowblowers!

Alas, it was not to be. The rumbling was my husband, John, snoring away under the pages of a thick Tom Clancy novel.

Erin tossed a pencil at him. It hit Fat-Boy instead, who used all the power behind his 16-pound frame to leap from the couch and land on John’s stomach. His flailing arms wiped out two cups of hot chocolate. Erin ran to grab a paper towel and stepped on Binky’s tail. Binky bolted into the kitchen, taking out a plant as she ripped by.

Once we restored order, we decided it would be a good time to play a family game.

“Uno!” Erin cried.

“No, Scrabble,” John retorted.



Erin leaped on John, Fat-Boy ran down the hall.

I told my family that if they couldn’t decide what to play, we wouldn’t play a thing.

“Hmmph,” one said.

“Hmmph,” said the other.

I returned to my book. Erin decided to take a bath. John left to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Soon, smoke was billowing out of the kitchen. I heard splashing in the bathroom – more splashing than usual.

Fire, flood. To which would I attend first?

The smoke, John reported, is nothing. Same with the water, Erin yelled. I returned to my book.

Then the electricity went out. Erin screamed as darkness descended in the bathroom. The lights went back on; Erin yelled out, “Never mind!” Binky meowed.

The phone rang. It was my boss. He wanted me to come into work, even if I had to ski uphill both ways in 5 feet of snow.

And I told him, “Dude, I am out the door. On my way. Consider me there.”

Extreme weather. It’s the stuff dreams are made of.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or

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