Friday, January 07, 2005

New Year's Eve

After finally getting up to the slopes to enjoy the fresh powder, we were pretty happy. After getting home and cleaning up the driveway (again), we made plans to go out for New Year's Eve. My passengers warmed up with some shots of Petron at Jeff's house, and then we bundled Jeff, Shana, Somala, Rachel and I into my Subaru and Ben took his three girls in his (well, not actually his, but his problem, which is close enough) CRV. Lucky guy.

We got to downtown a little before 11PM and found a parking spot in one of the casino lots by virtue of making our own row. We wandered from casino to casino in search of $5 limit blackjack tables (no luck) and free drinks (no problem, as long as you don't mind them being a bit watered down). We bounced back and forth between Bill's and Harvey's until it got close to midnight, then headed out onto main street for the midnight festivities.

For those who aren't familiar with this drill, South Lake Tahoe shuts down the portion of highway 50 in front of the casinos for New Year's Eve, and it fills up with people. There were fewer people this year than in the past, because it was actually snowing significantly that night, but there were still enough people to pack the street.

We lost Ben and his crew at some point, and moved out into the crowd to get into the spirit of things. None of the casinos run a countdown, so we didn't get a Times Square-esqe countdown, but instead a series of random cheers over a ten minute period, as people's various watches, cell phones, pagers, and other timekeeping devices told them it was now midnight. A couple of random guys snuck in to steal kisses from Somala and Rachel, and a girl behind Jeff flashed her boobs a couple times, which Jeff missed because he was off contemplating the state of the universe or something.

As the random Happy Newyearness died down, we headed back into Harvey's to feed the Nevada gambling industry a bit more, then decided to head back to Jeff's house. When we got to the parking lot we realized the snow that had been falling for the last few hours had actually been piling up, and there was 2-3 inches of new snow in the parking lot. Accordingly, I was volunteered to go find and fetch the car, although Somala graciously wandered around the parking lot with me. After a few minutes of orienting ourselves ("oh yeah, this is where the bus tried to back in to us"), we found and started the car, and dumped ourselves into the mass of people trying to get out of the parking lot. I can't really describe this process except to say that apparently snow melts people's brains.

As we were bumping along Pioneer Trail (the road surface at this point being ice with a couple of wheel-troughs in it, covered with a light dusting of snow), Jeff made his first prediction of 2005: "I bet Ben got stuck getting on to my street." Sure enough, we get up to Jeff' street, which hadn't been plowed for 2 days and was covered with between 6 inches and 2 feet of snow, and there's Ben's CRV stuck at the head of the street.

There's no way we can get around him, and everybody's currently dressed in their going-out clothes, so Jeff suggests we drive around to the other end of the street, park my car in the driveway, then hike back with shovels to get Ben un-stuck. I sign up for this mainly because I'm having a lot of fun driving my car in the snow.

We get back on Pioneer Trail, head up one block, and duck back into the maze of streets heading for the other end of Jeff's street. We immediately sense trouble, because all of these streets have not been plowed recently and are covered with about 6 inches of snow, and Jeff is having a hard time figuring out where we are and how to get to his street. Every time we have to stop at an intersection and look for signs we get nervous, because in snow, "stop" is frequently the same thing as "stuck".

Finally, after a couple false turns, we get to Jeff's street, only to find that there's another car stuck at the end of that street, parked with its flashers on. We stop to ponder this situation, and unfortunately this time, we're stuck, too. I try to work the car out of it and only manage to get the car turned sideways and thoroughly stuck.

At this point we're pretty much out of choices, so Jeff, Shana, and Somala hike back to the house to get digging equipment, and Rachel and I stay with my car (which now has its flashers on, so the next guy doesn't run into us). We sit there for about half an hour until the owners of the second car show up, get their car unstuck, and then come help us get our car unstuck.

After that, I'm a man on a mission; I gas the car out and vow that I will not stop until I'm in the driveway. I manage to find my way back to Pioneer Trail by following my own tire tracks back, slide out on to Pioneer Trail, hop back one block, and get back to the head of Jeff's street. Ben's progress has knocked down a little snow, but we're still looking at huge amount of snow to go through with my car's fairly low clearance. I turn in back up in the plowed street, line myself up with the wheel ruts, and punch it.

I hit the street in second gear with all wheels spinning, but the car slows and starts to bog, so I drop down into first and floor it. There's not really a concept of "steering" at this point, as the car is just bouncing down the previous vehicles' wheel ruts at about 6000 RPM. I get to Jeff's driveway, which is a few hundred feet down the street, and try to turn, at which point I get stuck again (can't get out of the ruts). A bit of shoving suffices to get clear of that, at which point I'm told to parallel park behind two other cars in the driveway. I finally manage something close by pointing my nose in and giving it a bit of gas, which slides the rear in.

By the time we get inside, it's after 2AM and everyone is pretty tired, so we pass on the after-party in favor of catching some Zs.

Happy New Year!

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