Vacancy at the Pine Street Motel
This business of maintaining two residences is still quite new to me, and not being one much for adventure, I am still considering all factors. This does not prevent me from taking advantage of the best each has to offer. We have lived full-time on this mountain for going on 32 years, and have managed to survive all of the harsh elements that have come our way. This includes at least ten storms which dumped in excess of three feet of snow, storms which dumped rain on top of heavy snow, and then froze solid, and southwest blowers, dumping thirteen inches of rain-horizontally-in a weekend’s time.
When I think of the countless times I drove a vehicle up to the top our driveway, so as to park on Bell Springs Road, in preparation for potential snow, I marvel at the difference technology has made. I can monitor the weather via the internet, and at least have a much better idea of both the snow level, and the quantity. That was always the kicker: How much? Our Trooper could easily make it out in less than three or four inches, without chaining up, but we could never be sure that we would not get dumped on.
I had a reputation to uphold down at the school district. I only had to make that fatal phone call twice in sixteen years of teaching: I can’t make it in today. Once was when a double oil tanker jack-knifed near the Hog Farm, closing the 101 for sixteen hours, and once was when we bottomed out in the deep snow, while packing all the food for the Science Fair judges, one fateful March day. Sad for them-great success for those of us snowed in on the mountain.
Now we have taken a residence in the center of Willits. Annie initially took this step when she was first diagnosed with cancer and had one kidney removed, along with a softball-sized tumor. She had to be near Howard Hospital and she had to be near her healthcare provider. Now it continues to serve this purpose, while also affording us the opportunity to escape the rigors of the ridge, using that aforementioned technology to keep us appraised of the weather outlook.
When this most recent example of extreme weather hit, we were cozily ensconced in our motel room in Eureka, with Dozer, and no specific agenda. And when we left Eureka, it was to return to the residence in Willits, commonly referred to by us as the Pine Street Motel, where the water pipes do not freeze, even when the temperature sank to twelve degrees, and the heat comes magically out of a metal box in the living room, requiring no firewood. What will they think of next?
There was no water at our spot on the mountain for ten days, first because the pipes were frozen, and second because we simply have not had enough precipitation this season to kick-start the springs. No rain equates to reduced amounts of spring water, with which to run three households. Normally at this time of year, the creeks are flowing, and we can simply turn on the front faucet and let it run for months at a time, thereby keeping water flowing through the entire system, preventing the pipes from freezing. Not this year, yet. We're still waiting for the new pond to fill up.
Additionally, at least two of the exterior on/off valves had been ruined by the freeze and had to be replaced. By bailing out, it gave Casey and Lito the time necessary to get the parts and do the work, without the stress of knowing Annie and I were sitting around waiting for something to happen. And no, my arm isn’t broken, but I am on the disabled list with some kind of lingering muscle tear across my shoulders, rendering me about as helpful as a one-armed man in a wheelbarrow race.
So what’s not to like about this new arrangement? I don’t know and I guess that bugs me. I have a sneaking suspicion that I will get over it the very next time I see that a front from the Gulf of Alaska is heading our way. Load up, Dozer! There’s a vacancy at the Pine St. Motel. Besides, I’ve been wanting to finish up that jig-saw puzzle I have going down there.