All Really Hail Holiday Inn Express!
- 2,602 words (if poetry, lines) long
- 0.00 hrs. revised
Oh, the suspense! Ah, the unremittant cliffhanger! Ooh, the now-properly-working word count bar!
So, yeah. I was able to drive away from Gallup just fine. The sun drove off those few flakes of snow, and I woke up feeling like a McDonald's burger under the warming lamp. Gallup was not a problem.
Raton, however, was another story. Someone please kick some sense into me next time I drive through Raton in early winter, OK? Remind me what a really good idea it is to check the weather, and how nice it is to have alternate driving plans. See, I didn't make it to my precinct's polling place on time on November 2nd, 'cause there was this snow problem going on.
So here I am getting sleepy again, it's going on 6:30 in the afternoon, and the rain is getting harder and colder as I approach Raton. In fact, it's snow. Blowing snow. Did I mention I was sleepy? And the steering wheel seems to have a lot more play than I'm used to. So I figure, stop in Raton, park at another Holiday Inn Express, check the weather online, see if it's going to get better soon or worse, figure out whether I should wait out the weather or push on ahead. The first exit into Raton looks to be what I want. I put on my right turn signal, slow down, begin moving into the exit lane – and then, because the road is now composed entirely of black ice, proceed to do a graceful 180 that leaves me looking scared and stupid in the triangle of asphalt between the highway and the exit lane. Thank the Gods no one was coming, 'cause otherwise you might be in suspense for the foreseeable future without me to write the rest of this story.
With the fear of the Reaper now firmly settled into the back of my skull, I inch down the exit lane at about 10 mph until I finally join up with the main drag. The Holiday Inn Express is on my left. I get into the next left turn lane, do a U-turn that I hope isn't illegal, and suddenly realize that the road now looks really familiar. "Ah. This is where the I-25 S business loop through Raton merges back into I-25 South. I'm getting back on the highway. Shit." The next damn exit was about 3 miles down, at I think Highway 64, which gets you to Taos. I didn't go to Taos, of course. I turned around and headed back to Raton, noticing now how the blowing snow diminishes visibility when you're headed north much, much worse than when you're headed south. Noticing also that this time I was not alone on the highway – a semi was coming up behind me.
Thankfully, this time I managed not to spin around when exiting. And I figured out that instead of U-turning I had to take a left, and then another left, and then another left, and then a right. This Holiday Inn Express was not built to be conveniently accessible, let me tell you. And if the snow plows hadn't yet gotten to I-25, then this little series of town roads wasn't even on their schedule. But I managed to toddle into a parking spot and fight the wind and get into the hotel lobby.
WiFi access: Check! Comfy sofa: Check! Cell phone: No signal. Damn. Ok, pay phone? Check!
Hope of getting home tonight? Nuh-uh. Hope of getting a room for the night? Keep dreaming. Raton Pass was closed, and everything in Raton was booked full of stranded travellers. "Try going to Las Vegas. 90 miles to the south." No thank you. I'd rather camp out on the couch.
I spent the next few hours on the phone and on email with my husband and one of the other election judges, apologizing in my most grovelling fashion for not being able to open the polls with them after all, and thanking them for running interference for me. I can't remember when the last time I had to have someone call me at a pay phone was. It makes the other folks in the lobby look at you funny, I'll say that much. I did some gabbing with other stranded folks. There was a couple who were driving someone else's car from point A to point B for them. There were three nice ladies and their two dogs, a mastiff and a pit bull if I remember correctly (when I asked, the words "pit bull" were whispered as though they feared eviction for having such an allegedly vicious breed of dog with them). And then there was this pair of Puerto Rican New Orleanians who just couldn't get over the coincidence of running into a hometown girl in New Mexico of all places. (Barry and Raúl, if you're reading this, thank you ever so much for the offer of a bed to crash in. As it turned out, the manager cleared up a meeting room and laid out some rollaways for us to sleep on. At $10 a bed, it wasn't so bad a deal for such unorthodox circumstances. I meant to leave y'all a note at the desk expressing my gratitude, but alas, I am a ditz and forgot.)
They opened the pass at 10:00 that night, but I was in no mood to push my luck. I left at about dawn the next morning, bearing coffee and tea and french toast and a bagel from the breakfast room, rocking out to another Yes playlist. (Union is a perennial favorite in the LeBoeuf-Little household; "Lift Me Up" was pretty much our courtship song. I don't think I'd listened to Talk since I was dating Mr. Wrong back in college. It was a lot better than I remembered it. Open Your Eyes was OK for the first two songs, which absolutely rock out, but the rest of it was just plain silly.) Raton pass was, well, passable. I got a speeding warning outside Trinidad. And I hit rush hour in Colorado Springs and Denver too. Did you know it's possible to type while driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic? Yeah. You just put the laptop on your lap, drive with one hand, and type with the other. When the placement of the keys require you to either switch hands or look down, for the Gods' sake, switch hands! Oddly enough, the enforced slow pace of such typing made the next few sentences of the novel come out much easier. My brain works better when it is obliged to slow down.
And there you have it. Made it back to Boulder and got to the polling place around 10:30. Of Election Day itself, and its aftermath, of course, the less said the better.
And that is way too long for a blog entry when I'm this far behind on my word count. I'll stop now.