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Thoughts of an Orphan
Stranded and Snowed in Up North 1-01-2011
Four days ago, I went to my friend Allie’s house for a sleepover. Nothing special—just a sleepover. When I got there, we began to talk, and her family invited me to go up to their cabin in Payson for a night (excluding Allie’s father, who had to stay home due to work, I think). I agreed.

DAY ONE OF THE CABIN [the day we got there]:

The next morning (I had stayed up all night lol), we hopped into the car and drove to my house to pick up some warm clothes for me to wear up there. My parents were fine with this. And so Allie, her older sister Marissa, their mother, and I drove off.

Their cabin was located about 10 miles outside of Payson, and to get there, you had to drive up a mountainside deep into the forest. It was snowing, and there was already about 3 inches of it on the ground. When we got into the cabin, we quickly discovered that there was no running water.

“There should be a metal pole shaped like a T outside,” Allie’s mother said to Allie and I. “Go out and find it. When you find it, go to the hole in the ground in our yard, stick it in, and twist. That should turn on the water.”

At that, Allie and I went out in the snow. We located said metal pole, but we couldn’t locate said hole in the ground. So we walked across the street to the neighbor’s house to ask for help.

The neighbor was an old man named Bob. In order to get to the front door of Bob’s cabin, Allie and I had to walk up the stairs and go onto their second-story balcony. We knocked on the glass door, and a large black poodle (along with two other dogs) greeted us with barks.

Bob and an old lady (who I assume to be his wife) came to the door. “Excuse me sir,” I started politely, “we don’t know how to start the water for our house. Would you please help us?”

“There should be a metal pole,” he began.

“Yes,” Allie quickly interrupted, “we have that.”

“But we don’t know WHERE to stick it in,” I continued.

“Oh, well there should be a hole in the ground, at the side of your yard. There should be a little knob in the shape of a minus sign. Stick the pole on that and twist,” he explained.

“Alright, thank you,” Allie said with a smile.

“Anything else I can help you with?”

“No, we’re good,” I told him. He closed the door.

I didn’t think that the man had really been of much help, but Allie said, “I think I know what he is talking about.”

Back at our own cabin, Allie found the hole. We placed the pole in it and twisted. Marissa and their mother stayed in the house. Allie and I would twist the pole (it actually took a considerable amount of force), and Marissa and their mother would call out to us, informing us whether or not the water had turned on yet.

We were doing this for about 15 minutes (with no luck) before they decided to ask another neighbor.

The neighbor who came to assist us was a big muscular man with grey hair and a moustache (he looked like someone off of Sons of Anarchy). He somehow got the water to work.

The next issue was the gas fireplace. Allie’s mother couldn’t figure out how to turn it on. I have a gas fireplace at my house, so I told her how to do it.

“You just have to take a lighter, put it in the fire, and turn the knob,” I told her.

“It’s a gas fireplace,” she argued, “you don’t need a lighter for it.”

I shrugged. She asked the man to teach us how to turn on the fireplace. And you know what? He did EXACLTY what I had told her to do. He lit the lighter in the fireplace and turned the knob.

“I TOLD you!” I exclaimed. She just gave me a guilty look and shrugged.

After that, the man left. We discovered that we had no electricity in the kitchen. Luckily, we had gas stoves.

Allie, Marissa, and I then went out and played in the snow. We were gone for about 1 ½ hours. We had had lots of fun throwing snowballs at each other, knocking snow off trees onto our heads, and rolling down hills. We were completely covered in snow by the time we got back.

The three of us had been anticipating a nice, warm shower. I was the snowiest, so I got in the shower first. It didn’t take me long to discover that the “warm” water wasn’t actually “warm.” The water range extremes were like this:

Super super super cold (if you turned on the cold water), and cold (if you turned on the hot water).

In the end, we all decided it would be better to just sit by the fire.

We watched The Day After Tomorrow and Pride and Prejudice. We had ramen and pasta for dinner.

It snowed all night.

DAY TWO OF THE CABIN [the day we were supposed to leave]:

The next day (the day we were supposed to leave), the car was completely buried under snow and the roads weren’t paved. The snow was almost up to my waist.

We all were waiting for the road paver dude to come and pave the roads so that we could potentially leave. In the meantime, we decided to go open the shed that contained the shovels, so that we could shovel a path for the car to get out of the driveway. There were two sheds outside. Both were locked with a padlock.

“Where are the keys?” I asked Allie’s mother.

“Marissa should have them,” she replied.

The three of us went over to Marissa and asked for the keys. However, Marissa only had one key.

“That’s weird; I had both of them,” Marissa said.

We decided to attempt to open one of the sheds with the key we had. We all trudged outside and went around back. We went to one of the two sheds. We weren’t really sure which shed had the shovels in them, so we just tried the biggest shed first. Allie and I tried to slide the lowest latch open (there were two metal latches, and the lowest one didn’t have a padlock on it), but it was, to our dismay, frozen solid.

I dashed back into the house and got two plastic cups filled with warmish water (Allie’s mother had somewhat fixed the warm water to be a bit warmer than cold). I went back to the shed and poured it over both latches.

They unfroze, and the key worked on the padlock. However, the hinges were also frozen. Allie’s mother told us to give up, because the shovels weren’t even in that shed, anyway. She told us that we weren’t gonna be able to get out of there that day.

Allie went inside and started to make bacon for her and Marissa. Allie is not a good cook. She is such a bad cook, in fact, that she somehow managed to burn the bacon to a crisp. The fire alarm went off 3 times during this process. We each took turns waving a towel in front of the smoke detector to prevent it from going off (which, as I already said, failed). I made a joke about the poor visibility levels in the house due to the smoke.

For lunch, I ate 2 packages of ramen noodles. After the smoke detector was triggered for the third time, we all finally decided to keep the door open and the fan on, despite it being around 15 degrees Fahrenheit outside. It was so cold out that when we opened the door, my almost finished bowl of ramen, which had long since cooled, had steam coming off of it. Needless to say, Allie didn’t cook for the remainder of the “one-step-up-from-camping” trip.

Around 3:30 in the afternoon, I looked out the window and saw a man driving a huge yellow CAT snowplow down the road.

“Sam!” Allie’s mother cried. “Quick! Throw on your snow boots and run after him! Ask him if the roads have been paved to Payson!”

“Alright,” I said. I put on my jacket and boots and ran out the door. I couldn’t run very fast, cuz the snow was almost up to my waist (as I said earlier). However, I finally managed to get on to the newly paved road (on the road, the snow was only about 3 ½ inches deep).

I ran up to the big CAT truck and shouted, “Excuse me, SIR!” After a few tries, I finally got his attention. He opened the door.

“Yes?” he asked.

“Are the roads paved all the way to Payson?” I shouted over the noise of the truck.

“You want to know if the roads are clear to Payson?” he clarified.

“Yes,” I replied, “I assume so.”

The man took out his radio thing and asked if the roads were cleared. After a few moments, the man looked back at me and said, “I don’t know. They aren’t sure.”

“Thank you, sir,” I said, and ran back to the cabin. It was a bit of a struggle to walk across the snowy driveway.

When I got back inside, Allie’s mother asked, “What did he say?”

“They don’t know,” I answered.

“We’re stuck here another night,” she concluded. We all groaned.

The phone rang. Allie’s mother picked it up. She listened for a second before saying, “Arizona Republic Newspaper? I don’t know why you have this number. We are out in the middle of nowhere. There’s no delivery where we are. Just take this number off your lists.” She listened for another few seconds before saying, “yes, we’re great.”

“We’re not great!” Allie exclaimed, “we’re stranded!”

For the next little while, we started talking about backup plans for getting out if Plan A (finding the key to the shed, shoveling the driveway, unburying the car, driving away in the morning) failed. The most favoured backup plan was Plan B.

Plan B required Allie to climb up onto the roof of the cabin. She was then to leap off said roof, and land in such a way that would hopefully cause her to break a couple (if not several) bones. After her “suicide attempt” (or at least, that’s what we would call it), 911 would be dialed, and all four of us would be flown out of Payson and to the Phoenix Hospital via helicopter. However, favoured as it was, we all hoped it would not come to that.

Our first and main priority was to be reunited with our whole families (remember, I wasn’t the only one without family members. Allie’s father and two dogs were still back in Phoenix) by New Years Eve. None of us wanted to still be in the cabin on January 1, 2011. Also keep in mind that we had no cell phone service or internet connection.

For dinner, I had two bowls of [cooked] ramen without the soup/broth part (Allie’s family makes ramen differently than the instructions. Their way involves pouring out the water and just putting the seasoning on top of the noodles. It actually didn’t taste too bad). By this time, I was incredibly sick of ramen.

After dark, Marissa finally found the other key to the shed. She had accidentally left it in a bathroom drawer, or something similar. We then had our minds set on getting away from the cabin by morning.

DAY THREE OF THE CABIN [the day we weren’t even supposed to still be there]: {New Year’s Eve}

We all got up rather early in the morning (about 7 or so). Allie and I had the task of retrieving some shovels from the shed. We went to the smaller shed and discovered that it, too, was frozen. We unfroze it with warm water.

I went into the cluttered shed. I saw 3 shovels. There might have been more than that in there, but I didn’t pay any attention. I first took a large, heavy garden shovel and passed it to Allie. I then grabbed a lightweight, blue plastic snow shovel and passed that to Allie as well. The wooden handle of the third shovel looked to be very splintery, so I dared not take it.

The two of us went around to the front yard and started to shovel a path for the car (which was still buried under snow) to get through to the road. We both took turns with the lightweight snow shovel. I had managed to sprain my hand, so I was always glad when it was my turn to use the snow shovel.

Meanwhile, while we were shoveling, Marissa and Allie’s mother were working on getting all the snow off the car and unburying the tires.

This entire shoveling and unburying process took about 2 hours. When we were finally finished, Allie’s mother got in the car and turned it on. She stepped on the gas. Allie and I were behind the car, pushing it out of the driveway. Marissa was on the road directing the car. It almost got stuck a few times, but finally we were out of the driveway and onto the paved road. It only took about 2 hours to make it back to Phoenix.

There was still snow on the car by the time we got home.

Well, that’s the whole story. Comment!

We’re talking about when we met and you say it was easier to fall for me thinking (I'll remember this pause) it was likely I’d be dead by now.


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