Storm Runners (#163)

Like many couples, Andy and I had to sort out the holidays when we got married. I expected a pitched battle.

I opted for the soft opening. “Since your birthday is around Thanksgiving, why don’t you pick where we go and what we do for that holiday and I’ll decide what we do for Christmas.”

Andy countered with, “Sure.”

“After all, my family lives in ski country and we could tie our Christmas trip to the slopes, which would be more economical than making a separate ski trip.”

Andy said, “That’s true.”

“And you don’t even really care about Christmas and your family doesn’t do anything anyway, and my family does and so I should get Christmas.”


The battle was tough. But I prevailed.

We spent our first few Christmases with various siblings in D.C. and Virginia. Then we met up in Utah.

This year, I decided it was time to go back to my favorite place on the planet – New Hampshire. I checked the long-term winter forecast from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. (Everyone does this, right?) After scanty snowfall last winter, the NOAA forecast a “normal” winter for New England. That was all I needed. A typical winter in the White Mountains means a white Christmas. Lakes will ice over. Giant Belgian draft horses will pull sleighs around villages. Tourists will realize that the picturesque covered bridges actually serve a purpose (keeping 4+ feet of snow from breaking the bridge).

I made airline reservations in October, using up all the frequent flyer miles in both of our accounts for economy class tickets. Ex-Stepmother assured me that I wouldn’t need to rent a car. I found Aussie Farm Girl, a cheap house-sitter who could handle giant dogs and cat puke with aplomb.

I put the weather for Nowhere, New Hampshire on my phone in mid-November. I checked the forecast daily and rejoiced.

They had a white Thanksgiving.

Ski resorts opened by December.

There had been multiple snowfalls by December 10th. The temperature wasn’t expected to rise above 25 degrees and the outdoor skating rink was  filled.

Two big storm systems were expected to bring a ton of snow in when we arrived.

A week before our flight was scheduled to leave Los Angeles, the forecast for the day after our arrival changed.

To RAIN. 45 degrees and RAIN.

My outrage was so audible my dog hid behind a chair.


I know, I know. Climate change. We have to get used to unpredictable weather, right?

Only this was predictable. When I make big plans, rain comes to visit. Seriously. I wrote a whole post on it.

So now I had the worst possible trip forecast: a big snowfall could screw up our connecting flight in Chicago and our arrival into Manchester…only to be washed away by rain the following day. Visions of a picturesque white Christmas were replaced by Christmas Mud.


T-minus 6 Days: Meteorologists give the cursed storm a name: “Decima.” I give it a different name: Damned Decima.

T-minus 5 days: Decima gains strength. Blizzard-like conditions are expected in Chicago. Our connection looks dicier by the second.

T-minus 4 days: Warm air from the southeast will heat New Hampshire up to the balmy mid-forties the day after Decima. Our first day there, we will wake up to rain…if we make it through Decima to Manchester and from Manchester up into the White Mountains.

T-minus 3 days: I shake off my depression, pull up two web browsers, and pit modern technology against Autumn’s Rain Curse.

T-minus 2 days…becomes T-minus 1 day: 5 hours on the computer. 30 text messages to family members. $200 to United Airlines, and I change both our tickets. We’ll leave a day early, fly to San Francisco, sprint for a connecting flight to Boston, fly over the blizzarding Decima, and catch a ride from Boston up to New Hampshire from an obliging sister’s significant other.

T-minus 90 minutes: Andy hydroplanes on all the water Decima’s spiteful spinoff dropped overnight at LAX. We spin toward one guard rail. Andy corrects. We spin toward the other guard rail. I think, “That’s it, my vacation is cursed, we’re going to crash.” Andy miraculously straightens us out, despite having foolishly turned off the Vehicle Dynamic Control (as he always does, because he’s in the habit of it, because actual weather is so unusual in LA). We don’t crash. We make our flight despite security lines and my endless harangue on his reckless driving.

We make it to our Boston flight with seconds to spare.

We land safely at Logan airport.

Our ride is on time. I figure we’ve done it.

Until we reach the highway. I’ve never driven with someone who over steers, overcorrects, can’t hold a steady speed, and is easily distracted. The car goes from one side of the lane to the other. Then back again. I-93 is the straightest, emptiest Interstate in the East, yet Andy’s head and my head wobble worse than a Big Papi bobble head. Grabbing Andy’s hand, I whisper, “You’re the best driver EVER and you saved us this morning and I’m so sorry I said those mean things.”

I can see the whites of Andy’s eyeballs. He whispers back, “You’re only saying that because we’re gonna roll any second and die.”

“Yep. And we were so close.”

But we survive. Our ride is Catholic. As our survival can only be ascribed to the intervention of the Patron Saint of Crap Drivers, I may have to rethink the whole atheist thing.

The next morning, when we wake up, Decima has arrived.

I walk in the morning’s silent snowfall instead of standing in line at an airport. Snow coats the evergreens and the rare russet leaf autumn left behind. I don’t see another soul. The snow falls most of the day, stopping just in time for us to sally forth in search of a Christmas tree.

This time, I drive. The first farm has no trees over six feet. We go to a second farm and find a perfect, nine-foot tree. As the sun sets, the Christmas lights make even the Christmas tree lot magical.

The rain will wash away the snow tomorrow. I know there’s no escaping my soggy fate. But modern meteorology and technology helped me delay it.

I got one glorious day in a winter wonderland.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

27 thoughts on “Storm Runners (#163)”

  1. Most of our snow in southeast PA is gone. Just a little on the rooftops and more rain predicted today. Our local ski resorts are reeling from the “reeling” temps. Up, down, high, low. I don’t know how they make any money. Perhaps there will be another snow before you leave NH. Temps here at going down slightly next week. Awww…it’s all about family anyway….

  2. As always, your blogs are a hoot! But the rain is such a bummer…I live in Vermont, and yesterday’s snow was beautiful – light and fluffy. Woke up today to soggy snow and rain. Ugh.

  3. I happen to know the driver in question, and he’d like to let you know that the patron saint of crap drivers is St. Frances of Rome

      1. St. Frances with an E. Crap Driving New Yorker (hereinafter referred to as CDNY) definitely married into the wrong family for St. Francis.

  4. Wonderful pictures! Wish we had some snow here as well but currently we sit once again at 50 degrees fahrenheit. There hasnt been any snow for the past 5 years here and before we had at least every second year a white Christmas, but yeah Climate Change isnt real.

    But why on earth he switches off the Vehicle Dynamic Control? I mean one does that only when wanting to do some racing and stuff but usually…oh well

  5. Oh, the things we do for snow!

    We’re so used to scorching summer Christmas Downunder – except Tasmania started snowing a couple of days ago… Climate change much?

    Hope you get some slope time too – Autumn!

  6. I’m glad you made it, Autumn!!! Your NH photos are Christmas picture perfect. I love them. I hope you and Andy have a wonderful Christmas back East 🙂

    1. Well, so far we’ve had a power outage and an ice storm and a puking cat and a dog marking his territory in the house. But damn, it is unbelievably pretty.

      Today we’re building a bobsled track and making the last batch of cookies.

  7. Yes! You made it and you saw your Christmas winter wonderland! Did sound like some reckless driving by Andy there, but hey, sometimes that is what he’s good for… 😉 Beautiful photos of the snow. And it is all white, and not even dented by footprints or any stray animals. Like one massive big cushion.

    As another808guy said, you and Andy should go on The Amazing Race 😀

  8. Snow really, truly is so magical. I miss it and love it. Funnily, when I lived in Colorado, my first winter was the biggest nastiest one in years (of course). Now, I expect no less. Hahahaha.

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