Thursday, February 17, 2011

Good Call

As friends have been commenting all day, we clearly made the right decision: it's been chains-only in the mountains since this morning, and even down here, the snow's so heavy that UNR canceled evening classes.

Note to Claire: Yes, you read that right. The accumulated snowfall in the mountains from today through Saturday is projected at twenty-nine to fifty-one inches. This ain't Central Park. Gary and I live at 5,000 feet, a bit higher than downtown Reno (elevation 4,500); Donner Pass, thirty-five miles away, lies at 7,085. (You'll recall from your history lessons that the Donner Party got stuck in lots and lots of snow, right?) This is ski country; also avalanche country; also if you get caught outdoors you could die country, which is why it's major search and rescue country. Even our little local mountain, Peavine, right across the street, can be deadly, which is why I insist that Gary bring his cellphone when he hikes there (which he does for two or three hours every other day, weather permitting), even though he loathes the thing. Neither of us has ever been caught in a storm on Peavine -- although other people have, and have died -- but I almost honest-to-god got bitten by a rattlesnake once. It was coiled and very well hidden in the middle of a trail, and I almost stepped on it, and it struck but missed. I've seen rattlesnakes lower down, too, a few blocks from here on walking trails, albeit not for several years. Granted, they're a warm-weather hazard; one needn't worry about snow and snakes at the same time!

So I'm glad we gave the mountains a miss, but I did drive around in the snow down here today. The new winter tires worked very nicely. In the late afternoon, Gary and I decided to be adventurous and check out a large mall in neighboring Sparks; at a sporting-goods store there, I found this funky wetsuit -- which fit me! -- on sale for $40. Sweet! The water in Mexico will probably be colder than Hawai'i (and Gary finds even those tropical waters too chilly), so I'd wanted to get a wetsuit for our snorkeling excursion, but I didn't expect to find one so quickly. I could do without the dorky logo on the front, and I'm pretty sure it's a guy's suit rather than a woman's, but it fits and the price was right, so I can't complain. Gary had less luck; they didn't have anything in his size that was reasonably priced, but it turns out there are a couple of dive shops in Reno, so we'll check those out. We both love snorkeling and plan to do as much of it as we can, so the investment makes sense.

Speaking of snorkeling, the sporting-goods store sports several huge fishtanks in the form of arched gates, so when you walk under them, you look up to see fish swimming over your head. Surreal photo, eh? I think those guys are catfish. They have whiskers, anyway.

Driving home from the mall was slightly scary; visibility was very poor, and even with the winter tires (going thirty-five miles an hour), I fishtailed a couple of times. But we're here, safe and sound and warm. Time for some nice hot tea!

Addenda:Turns out that I-80 was actually closed for part of today; westbound reopened at 7 p.m., but eastbound's still closed.

Also, tragically, when I looked at that SAR site, I realized that they did a search today -- and recovered a body -- only about six miles from here, in a residential area with lots of hiking trails. (My friend Sharon lives nearby.) A hiker had been missing since Wednesday. The paper notes that police haven't yet confirmed the identity of the body, but it sounds like everyone thinks it's the missing hiker. The body was only recovered a few hours ago, so the authorities haven't determined cause of death yet, either.

Scary, scary stuff. My heart goes out to her family and friends.

1 comment:

  1. Well you see.....if you had gone that wet suit would not have been there when you came back. Told you so!! Seriously, I'm glad you are safe and sound. There will be lots of other opportunities to go to the mountains.


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