As my coworker, Nancy, and I left our office today we knew we were in for a challenging drive home to our neighboring home community.  The soft floating snowflakes were suddenly larger icy globs in a hurry to drop down and collect en mass.  In other words,  Mother Nature was dumping it out!  As I focused on my careful driving, Nancy’s talking became more intense.  She busily chatted about different adventures of living and driving in Yosemite National Park when her kids were younger.  I was smiling at her stories and driving cautiously around cars who were stopped in the road to put on chains or spun out of control. Their cars were along the banks of the road where the drivers sat with their hearts pounding and their emergency lights and wide eyes blinking. Eventually, we made it to our car pool parking area and Nancy unloaded half of her office out of my car and into hers. I drove off with the most of the contents of my office, in anticipation of having to do a lot of home work during the next fews days and predicted storms.

I now needed to drive  over a steep mountain climbing 1000 feet.  I was so surprised that the pass had not already been closed.  But no, trucks and cars were still starting to make the climb out of the little village, heading towards the San Joaquin Valley.  I felt dread as there were two large grocery 18 wheeler trucks immediately in front of me.  As we moved up the grade, both trucks started slipping and sliding like you see in movies in slow motion.  I had distanced myself back hoping they wouldn’t go over the side of the mountain.  They both stopped their forward motion in very ackward positions, but they were at least safe.  I was able to go around them both when there weren’t oncoming cars.  Up ahead, the road suddenly got packed full of cars, trucks, pick-ups, vans, law enforcement vehicles all stuck in both lanes.  There were only a few of us who miraculously were still moving at a very slow off and on forward pace.

I glanced in the mirror and saw a Sierra Ambulance approaching behind me with their red lights on.  At that moment I was able to squeeze over to the right and not get stuck.  My first hero was the ambulance driver.  I was able to follow in his tracks over the top of the grade and what vehicles were still on the road moved aside for the emergency vehicle.  OK,  I was now in the home stretch of my drive and  needed to take my 4 wheel vehicle (Silvia) up a very steep and narrow road in a residential- type area.   I made a curve as I started to accelerate up the hill and  saw that there was a large charter bus askew in the middle of the road. It was completely stopped.  All the kids trying to get to the nearby mountain camp were off the stuck bus and were dangerously in the road, as were their pillows, sleeping bags, backpacks, suitcases, etc.  Rats, all I could do was just slide to a stop immediately.  I knew Sylvia was doomed to now become one of those spinning-wheels vehicles.  I slid Sylvia as close to the side of the road as I could.  

I started  hiking the rest of the mile or so I had left to get home.  Out of nowhere was smiling, neighbor Mike, hero number two, to pick me up and drive me on home.  Hero 3, my husband, was just leaving home after snow blowing the driveway by himself, ready to search for the overdue me!  The three of us went back down the road, around the bus and campers to my car to try and maneuver it onto the now plowed section of the road.  Smiling hero number four came up behind us and offered to move along Sylvia with his wench. (This item is now on my wish list for next Xmas). Finally, Sylvia and I have made it to our home sweet home.  The 40 minute drive had taken me over four hours! I couldn’t have done it without my friendly, smiling heroes.  Thank you, gentlemen, for helping me out today!  I believe “mountain men” have that certain “je ne sais quoi”  quality of doing purposeful acts of kindness especially on this snowy, Friday the Thirteenth!

 Nancy’s adventure going to her home is a story for another day!