In Search of Snow
December 29, 2004

Last year, dear eaters, you might remember that I was unquestionably and irrationally saddened by the lack of snow in the Bay Area and that my husband made a promise to take me up to Tahoe in search of snow.

Any other time of the year, I have no trouble being convinced that San Francisco is the best place on Earth -- the food, the weather, the people, our jobs -- but when Christmas comes and I listen to carols and Garrison Keillor telling Minnesota tales, my heart starts to get sad. I crave the snow the way a flower craves the sun. It's pretty clear that, despite the horrible weather reports coming out of Indiana, Ohio, and Kansas this season, I'm gonna need a good dose of snow every year.

The drive up in our little rental car was pretty hairy. We left earlier than we thought we would -- 2-ish, instead of 4-ish -- and it's a quite a good thing that we did. We ran into massive rainstorms as we drove through the East Bay and headed inland. Being overcast it was certainly plenty dark, but I sure as hell wouldn't want to be driving that same leg at night with the rain coming down in sideways sheets. We also ran into more traffic than we expected being that it was middle of the day in the middle of the week.

My spirits in the car were much depressed and it had little to do with the rain. When I checked the Strawberry Lodge cabin cam -- situated up where we were staying -- before we set out, it showed no big drifts of white fluffy stuff and I had begun to wonder if this would be a wild snow chase.

We finally hit the mountains and started to climb. It was dark by now and misty on the roads. Obnoxious (but at least sensibly-placed for once) SUVs came barreling down the narrow mountain road opposite us and were overtaking us from behind whenever a passing lane came up. We were not afraid to take it slow. My eyes were busy searching the headlight-illuminated sides of the road for snow scenes. Everything white made me jump and look close. It got so that even the whiteness of on-coming headlights made me react with "Oh, snow!" It was still raining and we climbed 1000 more feet. Suddenly, I squinted and looked hard. Those weren't raindrops. They were too big...too...fluffy. I rolled down my window and stuck my hand out. "It's snowing!" I announced. My husband was pleased as I had been a grumbling companion for 150 miles. I didn't see accumulation until we drove a few more miles. Now the snow was swirling around us -- something I haven't seen except on TV for nearly two years -- and I was impatient to get to our end point and hopefully see more results. We finally reached Strawberry, CA -- the one 17 miles from Lake Tahoe, not the one near Yosemite -- and saw the big drifts of snow around Strawberry Lodge. The snow was still coming down.

As we snuggled on the patchwork-quilted king size bed with our bottle of red wine from Kermit Lynch, the snow started to fall faster and thicker. I drifted off to sleep watching the black sky turn white.

This morning, the trees are heavy with the snow and the cliff face known as Lovers' Leap just behind Strawberry Lodge is coated. Our room is filled with that pale blue light typical of a snowy morning.

Now I know that California has everything: fresh produce of every possible variety, wine country, beaches, desert, mountains and snow.

It does my Minnesota heart good.

After my requisite "roll in the snow."

Snow Roll

Mathra juggles snow to amuse all the kids.

Snow Juggle

THIS is California?!

Look at Me!

The view from our window.

Snow View
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