Jewish Journal


January 24, 2010

Siberia Revisited



This morning after a week of rain, I awoke to the sun sneaking into my room leaking through the window and blinding my right eye.  I perked up. (I never actually perk in the morning- more like percolate) I woke up slowly to the request of my children asking- “Mommy, since the rain has stopped, can we go to the mountains for a snow day?” 

Flashbacks of our last snow day consume my mind.  It is a January day and I have just finished a grueling three weeks of writing the sixty seventh version of one of my many scripts that producers were waiting for, plus I had finished cutting three films for a fundraising event, and I was exhausted from piles of housework that seemed to be creeping into my life at enormous pace. I was tired. I needed a serious vacation when my husband suggested we head to the mountains.  Three pans of oven fried chicken, two potato kugels, four trays of brownies, towels, sheets, freshly bought snow gear, and a heap of cold-cuts later, we traveled our way into the biggest snow storm of the decade.  I was still tired. If you keep kosher, preparing for a vacation is enough to make you need the vacation even more.

Our car got stuck in the snow a mile away from our destination and we traveled by foot only to arrive at a log cabin with forty-three stairs covered in a blanket of thick snow that we now had to dig our way out of just to reach the front door. Although we managed to make the best of it, my husband whistled the whole time, my children sang like little doves with glee and had the best trip of their lives while I cried and muttered expletives under my breath unable to appreciate the adventure.

“Mommy, please can we go to the snow?”  “Maybe,” I say.  “Mommy can we please go? Please?”  “We’ll see,” I say.  “Mommy- good news! Daddy packed the car with enough food to feed us all for a week and found all the snow gear, get dressed!”

I know what you’re all thinking- my husband is a saint and I am- not. And he is, cause if it weren’t for him, we would have spent the day airing out in the sun sipping mai tai’s on the beach. That is my fantasy.  But instead we are trailing through four freeways, passing numerous accidents and reaching our destination of snow capped mountains- Freizer Park after two hours.  Everyone was giddy. Except for me.  I just wanted a quiet Sunday.  But because I am married to a saint who whistles, I am trapped in a van with children excited about their snow day, while I fear the worst, hoping this is not a remake of January 14th, 2008. 

We approach the Frazier Park onramp and notice a huge sign indicating the only road leading to our destination is closed.  A slight pang in my heart suggests this day could end with children screaming and lots of disappointed rhetoric brewing in a cacophony of ten and seven year old complaints.  And although my thoughts are on a pearly white beach while sipping the most expensive cocktail, I still want my kids to have a good time. Was it possible to convince them their good time could be on sand instead of on snow? I’m already dreaming up bribes, incentives, and kickbacks that could possibly reverse this day’s outing.

“Not a problem!” my eager husband announces.  He turns the car around and heads to the nearest exit hoping to whip around the freeway to another exit towards our snowy day of fun.  But that onramp leads us to a row of cars with the same idea that is now circumvented by highway patrol announcing to each car that Frazier park is closed due to the population being too large.  Apparently, we weren’t the only Californians hoping to hit the snow after a week of rain.

Our dear friends we were caravanning with follow us to the nearest rest area to strategize.  We now have two lawyers, a Rabbi, and several bright children on the job.  My husband, the warrior with a plan figures the best way to convince the highway patrol we are entitled to the holy road that leads to Frazier Park is if we are helping the economy so he books a hotel room. After all, they can’t deny us access if we have reservations. Now I’m scared we may have to sleep there, but try to remain calm for the children, even though the thought of sleeping in the snow for one night causes me enough panic and anxiety that several pills of Zanax won’t help. But I smile. I have to. We’re with real witnesses. Unlike our last trip where it was just me, my husband and my kids, we are with friends.  I can’t exactly lose it- yet.

We travel up the road and approach the cops where my husband is sure his sweet charm will get us all up the mountain. Plus we have reservations.  But apparently this cop is a smart one, and the reservation routine is one he’s heard before. We are denied access to the coveted road without written proof. We didn’t bring a printer.

I breathe a sigh of relief thinking this day can end without snow or adventure, and the possibility of driving to a quieter destination that could require sitting, possibly sipping something intoxicating, leaves me calm- until my husband, the problem solver that he is decides to PARK.

We head into a parking lot filled with hundreds of huge Peterbilt semi trucks, mini vans and loaded SUV’s all turned away from the Frazier park road.  We are parked in front of Denny’s. You know those spots you park in that indicate you’re on your way to your destination, but haven’t actually gotten to your destination?  Well that became our new destination. Along with thousands of others, we get out of the car where the only thing blocking us from a day of snow fun is a barbed wire fence and a heap of sloshy mud filled with cow dung, dead bushes, and large boulders.

“Let’s Go!” says my husband. All pile out of the car and head towards- you guessed it, the barbed wire!  Spanish music is heard in the air, blankets have been laid out on the lightly packed snow ground, bbq’s are broiling pork chops and hamburgers, and my family is trucking through a land that looks like the Siberian wasteland that our forefathers were committed to- involuntarily.  Even the lawyers are following.  Has everyone gone mad?

“What?  But Honey, where are we going to sled with the children?”

I asked that one too quickly, because the next thing I know we have trailed our way to the steepest hill where a thousand immigrants have planted themselves using garbage can lids as sleds, and now the Jews have arrived.  The only thing blocking my kids from sliding down the hill and slashing their brains against the metal barbed wire is a small dried out bush, and a three hundred pound spanish man, named Julio, who I will be eternally grateful for, for years to come and ME.

Was I concerned this was a seriously bad mistake that could have ended us all up in the ER with lacerations and tetanus shots?  Yes.  Did I have the best time of my life drinking coke, eating make shift tuna sandwhiches and dodging wild life while catching my husband who was brave enough to barrel his one hundred eighty pound body towards me at warped speed on a plastic sled with only Big Julio and my little self to stop him from hurling his way into the dangerous metal sharp wired fence? You Bet!

Am I drinking a tall glass of wine right now remembering yet another hilarious snow day? Definitely.



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