Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Snow, as ordered. . .

When I booked my trip to Michigan in December, I was actually hoping that there would be snow, but I guess that I was hoping that it would already be there. Instead, there was snow when I landed, but just a dusting, and that’s about how much there was until, of course, I was supposed to leave. Saturday night, the weather first got warm (a few degrees above freezing – it’d been in the 20’s and teens Fahrenheit (about -5 to -12C) all week) and it rained, and then later, with the quote “be careful what you wish for” ringing in my ears, I saw some 3 inches of snow pile up outside, ensuring a nice icy layer under a nice blanket of snow. United Airlines rang the house at something like 4am to say that my 7pm flight was cancelled, so they put me on one early in the morning. My Mom woke me up at 5:30am thinking that maybe would could make the flight if we got up and out within the hour. I felt that it was already too late to make such a flight, even if we left at that moment, which none of us were prepared to do. I logged in to see if I could find out the scoop, online, and when I tried to check in for the new flight, it wouldn’t let me do it “until 24 hours ahead of time”. That’s when I realized that it was scheduled for the next morning. I went back to bed to deal with it in the morning. On Sunday, it just snowed and snowed and snowed – we got about 6 inches or so, with high winds that drifted the snow so that there were places where the snow was much deeper. The early morning flight wasn’t going to work for a number of reasons, including the storm not being over by the time we would have to leave my folks house, so I rescheduled the flight for later on Monday.

This allowed me time to go for run in the drifted snow and wind (that was a workout!), and shovel us out, and for that, I used the yooper scooper. I’m not sure how “yooper” is actually spelled, but I spell it that way so that people pronounce it, correctly. A “Yooper” is someone from the U.P. (Upper Pennisula) of Michigan. We pronounce the letters, when we talk about the U.P., and so the people who live up there become the U.P.ers, or, more fondly, the yoopers, because they tend to be of Scandinavian descent, and therefore have that long drawn out accent. Anyway, I believe that the Scandinavians brought with them a type of “shovel” that they used back in Scandanavia. It looks like this:

Since the only place that we know of people using it is in the U.P., we, naturally, call it a yooper scooper. Note, in the above picture, what you can do is scoop up the snow, and then slide it up and over other snow, and then tip it up to dump it. This snow was very heavy, and I was able to move an amazing amount by using this technique. It was still hard work, but I don’t even think that I could have shoveled the whole driveway with a regular snow shovel without getting an extremely sore back.

Monday brought nice sunshine, showing us all of the beautiful snow:

We made it to the airport without an accident, which was quite a miracle given the many spinouts, and my parents were able to make it back home without an accident, although there was a little slipping and sliding that occurred. . . (Michigan doesn’t allow studded tires or chains).

And I thought that everything was hunky dory for leaving, until just before they boarded my plane – the agent called me up and asked for my paper ticket. I handed him my boarding pass that I’d received from the Continental ticket agent. He said, no, no – he needed a ticket – the boarding pass said that there should be a paper ticket. United had put me on that Continental flight, but it seems that they’re not quite one company, yet, and somehow the agent that put me onto that flight made a mistake and didn’t make the ticket electronic. The guy said that I would likely miss the flight since I needed a United agent to reissue the ticket as an electronic ticket, but no United agents were there – he sent me off to two different United gates, but no one was at either one. When I returned to his counter, I asked them if it were possible for them to actually call United, since at this point, going back to the ticket counter (outside of security, which is what they were suggesting) would ensure that I wouldn’t make the flight. An agent did so, and everything got fixed in time for me to get on the plane (the last person, but I got on!).

As a parting shot – here is a cardinal eating seeds embedded in suet during the snowstorm:

May your winter be what you want it to be, and may you be healthy and safe.