Ever get that feeling, you know that niggling little feeling that something is not good? The feeling you get when you watch, lets say a horror movie, and the person is about to open the door…don’t do it, don’t do it, there’s something baaad behind the door. You know they know it, but they do it anyways. And you always think to yourself, why, why? They knew something baaad was on the other side and they did it anyways. I recently had that feeling, but first, lets go back a couple of weeks.
McGyver loves Montana, McGyver loves to hunt, McGyver loves the cabin, McGyver loves Thanksgiving. McGyver suggests, why don’t we spend Thanksgiving up at the cabin and I can hunt. I thought about that for awhile, I consulted several people at work, because I do love going to the cabin but I love tradition also, and I wanted to support either way. Traditional Thanksgiving weekend at my house includes a big feast and lots of lounging around on Thanksgiving, then spending the rest of the weekend decorating for Christmas and eating leftovers. I’ve done this for about 25 years now.
I love the cabin too, been obsessed with it for a couple of years (I blogged about it here). A conundrum for sure. After much thought, I suggested a big meal at home and then we would go up to the cabin after our meal and spend the weekend up at the cabin. I’d pack all the leftovers and not have to do much cooking and McGyver and the Baby boy could go find me an elk. Now fast forward to one week before Thanksgiving.
It snowed, and it snowed and it snowed. I know, it’s Montana, its supposed to snow; but when you have plans to go to the mountains, maybe not so good. McGyver went up the weekend before we planned to leave. It took him 5 1/2 hours to get there. It normally takes 3 hours. He went through Helena, the long way, and he had to put chains on, but he claimed it wasn’t that bad. That’s when I got that feeling, you know the feeling I was mentioning earlier. I started dropping heavy hints that it may not be such a good idea to go. Heard but dismissed.
I again consulted my co-workers, native Montanans and Rocky Mountain folks. They agreed, it’s just to risky this time of year to go, you never know what’s going to happen with the weather.
“Honey, maybe we should reconsider?”
I started getting a little pissy, I had a baaad feeling and I was scared to go. On Thanksgiving Morning, McGyver senses my pissiness and asks me what is my problem. I tell him I have a baaaad feeling about this. He hugs me and tells me he checked the weather, the road conditions and with our year round cabin neighbor who declared the road drivable, but if I didn’t want to go, that was okay with him.
Here’s the part where I opened the damn door. We went. See, I love McGyver with all my heart and I want him to be happy. He knew I was concerned about the weather and driving conditions so he checked on that. He knew I was worried about the cold (the remoteness cold) so he bought two electric heaters, extra propane heaters, extra tire chains, a winch, long underwear and gaters for the Baby boy. He really wanted to make sure we enjoyed our time out there plus he spent like $500 to make sure we would be comfortable and safe. Despite that baaaad feeling I consented. I love you McGyver and I trust you.
We had an early Thanksgiving meal, got packed up and hit the road about 3:00 pm. Not bad for a Holiday. Sure enough the roads were looking good, it had warmed up a little and the snow was melting. By the time we hit McDonald pass it was dark and the wind had picked up. It caused the snow to blow across the road like a low flaky fog, swirling around, very mystical like. We made it to our exit and started our climb up. A few miles in, on a nice level spot, McGyver and the Baby boy put front and rear chains on the truck. This was a bit of an effort since McGyver had limited experience (like he used them for the first time in years the weekend before) and the Baby boy had never used them, me either.
Once they were on, we started up and up and up. Really it wasn’t too bad, at first. Then we passed by cars parked on the side of the road. I’m talking about the cars/trucks that belonged to the people who live year round up there, including our neighbor Jeff’s truck.
“What is his truck doing down here?”
“He brought it down here because he was afraid it wouldn’t start”
“Oh” I said, I got this baaaad feeling.
We continued up the mountain, The truck squirmed and groaned, slipping and gripping through the snow and mountainous road. I got quiet, not a peep. Radio was turned off, Baby boy instructed to be quiet. When you have to concentrate, silence is needed. McGyver needed to concentrate. I needed a downer or a few stiff drinks, it was getting scary and my baaad feeling was getting worse.. We got to within 1/4 mile of the cabin, and folks, this is the most scared I have ever been in my life. We were climbing up, the headlights glistening off the white snow, the drifts of white, untouched snow that was covering part of the road on our right. To our left, a cliff, a big cliff, no trees to to catch our fall (if you know where my mind was going). McGyver tried to press through the drifts but the lighter rear end of the truck protested and started sliding precariously to the cliff’s edge.
McGyver stopped the truck. Through his ragged breaths he said “I need to check this out”. McGyver got out, relieved himself (before it happened in the truck, fortunately) and smoked a cigarette. He surveyed the treacherous corners and decided that we should be able to press on. We were so close and the alternative of backing down the mountain would have been more treacherous. He got in the truck, took a few deep breaths, clutched the steering wheel and pressed on the gas. I prayed, I’m not a praying type, I prayed but I made no promises about being a better person if I survived. I just prayed to not slide off the road and down the mountain.
The truck already in a habit, wanted to let that rear end slide off the cliff. McGyver stopped the truck, backed up just a smidge, pressed on the accelerator to go forward. Crunch, crunch, the chains stuck out their claws and gripped the snow and we moved forward without sliding sideways. Exhale. Not a word did I dare say, not a “I knew this was a baaad idea”, not an “I told you so”. Just relief. We made it the last 1/4 of mile and stopped at the bottom of Jeff’s driveway and called him from the On*Star phone in the truck.
We headed down our driveway to the cabin, a little squirrely but not bad. And certainly, no cliffs on either side.
First order of business was to light a fire. Unfortunately our batteries in the cabin were dead so we didn’t have any lights. I held a flashlight for McGyver, he asked me to stay still, but I couldn’t stop shivering…. McGyver got the fire started, then he and the Baby boy unloaded the truck. I immediately took both the electric heaters upstairs and plugged them in. McGyver plugged in the generator, now all we had to do was wait for it to warm up.
It was too cold to sleep, so we decided to wait for awhile, until it warmed up a little. In the meanwhile we decided to watch one of the movies we brought. We all sat down on the futon, with our winter coats, scarves, hats and gloves. And for me, a rum and coke, no ice please. I needed something to calm my nerves. After we watched “Tooth Fairy”, which was funnier that I think it normally would be (hysteria does that, so does a couple of drinks), we went to bed. I in my long underwear and jammies and socks!
By the middle of the night, the place was a hot box. Off came the jammies and the socks and the covers. Off went the electric heaters, yup, that warm. It’s tough when you don’t have a thermostat to regulate your heat.
We all slept in, McGyver decided not to go hunting but to install the winch on the truck…ummm it needs to be installed? You mean that it wouldn’t have helped us on the way up? Good thing I didn’t know that one, it would have just added to my baaad feeling. Our neighbor Jeff dropped in. We were eating a late breakfast and I was in my silk long underwear, my very thin silk long underwear. Good thing I had an apron on, good thing he doesn’t care. We chatted a bit, I asked probing questions on road conditions, drifts on the road….why is your truck at the bottom of the mountain and you are using your sled because????
Why are you just now telling us that you are the last to leave your truck at the bottom and everyone else left theirs down there last week? Why is your definition of drivable different than any normal human beings? Why for the love of God would you lead McGyver into thinking a non-mountain man should be driving these roads in these conditions? I didn’t say any of that, I just thought it…. Then Jeff proceeded to tell us about the bad snow storm that was supposed to be coming sometime on Sunday. When Jeff, how bad? I did ask those questions but he couldn’t remember. McGyver decided that we better leave before noon on Sunday so we don’t get caught in it. I thought about that.
After breakfast and our visit we went out and about. Oh boy, see all the snow on the picnic bench!
McGyver decided to install the winch. Only it needed a special bracket that was NOT included. To be fair the box said “Easily mounts to your trailer hitch”. Nothing about NOT included, I think I’m going to sue. I have a baaaad feeling.
It was so picturesque and beautiful!
The dogs had a blast playing in the snow, freedom, no fence. Summer is almost camouflaged in the snow.
Have you ever seen snow dingle berries?
McGyver even bought electric heated beds for the dogs. The baby boy is enjoying it also. He has also managed to furminate the bed with his hoodie!
It was starting to warm up and snow was melting. It slid off the roof, imagine the sound of an Avalanche, only smaller. It tried to fill our truck bed… Warming conditions means a weather change. Melting snow equals slippery. My baaad feeling was intensifying.
I thought about it. “McGyver, I think we should leave on Saturday in case the weather moves in quicker, you know how unpredictable the weather is. I have a baaad feeling”
McGyver didn’t argue.
We enjoyed our day there, drank a few too many adult drinks, ate leftovers and watched movies. The next morning we were going to get up, get packed and head back down the treacherous road before noon. While the snow would be cold and frozen, while there would be plenty of daylight.
I couldn’t sleep that night. Oh sure, a few too many drinks and I was numb. Fell right asleep then woke up to the truck sliding off the edge of a cliff. I tossed and turned. I played out every possible scenario in my head and what I would do. Phones don’t work up here, On*Star is sketchy, so it would be all us baby. I even had a plan for: if we survived, our neighbor Jeff could take us down one by one on a sled, we would rent a car and drive home and leave the truck, our gear everything. Except my purse and my camera, but everything else. I might need some extra warm clothes for the trip down, and my gloves and scarf and two coats and a hat, but that’s it! Survival baby!
I was up from 1:30 am to 5:00 am. I gave up on tossing and turning, went downstairs and read, trying to distract my mind. I went back to bed, had to pee, went downstairs, read some more. Trying desperately to push the baaaad feeling and images from my mind. After all, McGyver is a GOOD driver, we made it up and going down should be easier.
I went to sleep for a couple of hours, pure exhaustion. Worrying is a lot of work (don’t all you parents know it!). The next morning I made a simple breakfast of hard boiled eggs and grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches. I ate the egg, but couldn’t eat my sandwich, couldn’t even drink the coffee. My stomach was in knots. I didn’t want McGyver to know I was so nervous, so I told him it was just too hot in the cabin and I didn’t feel like eating. We packed up.
We winterized and cleaned the cabin.
This is the least cluttered my front room table has been in 6 months.
We brought in the log splitter, chain saw and other junk that piled up on the front porch into the cabin. This is the cleanest our front porch has been…if it could only stay that way. Can’t you see a bench or a rocking chair on that front porch?
Good bye to our good luck horseshoe and the McGyver and Giggles plaque that I wood burned for our 5th anniversary. By the way, the claddagh is the pattern on our wedding bands (how sweet). I free-handed the claddagh design, a big accomplishment for me since I’m not an artist and this was my first (and last) wood burning project.
We set off by noon, just as we planned. This time I knew what we were in for. I also knew that McGyver had proved himself to be an excellent driver and I tried to comfort myself with the fact that it would be easier going down than up. But I just couldn’t shake that baaad feeling.
We slid and squirmed our way up the driveway. At the fork of the driveway, McGyver stopped and asked me: “Should we go up the drive and back up to Jeff’s place and turn around or should we try to go up the short way and cut across?”
I told McGyver it was up to him, last time (Memorial Day Weekend, I thought we could get down the driveway and we got stuck, so I wasn’t going to make this call). Please read about it here, it will explain soooo much. McGyver decided to take the short cut up. Only he didn’t realize there was a log under all that snow. And he didn’t know that our front tire would catch it and it would pull us so far to the right and that we would get high centered. And that our tires, that were desperately trying to get us out would dig us down to the axle in a matter of seconds. In other words, we were stuck. I had a baaaad feeling.
McGyver got out and surveyed the situation (are you getting deja vu yet?). He knew he’d have to dig us out, he said “why don’t you walk down to the cabin and wait?”. Ummmm, I don’t have snow boots (I know, what crazy person lives in Montana without snow boots?). I decided to stay and read in the truck while he and the Baby boy set to get us out. McGyver did some digging and decided, hmmm, may not be enough, then McGyver walked down to the cabin and got the Rhino and brought back some wood. The Baby boy, bless his young heart, continued digging. McGyver came back and dug and dug. He put wood behind the wheels, hooked up the winch on the Rhino to the rear end and gave me the job of releasing it as he got traction on the wood.
“McGyver, why the winch on the rear?”
“Hopefully it will keep the rear end from sliding as I try to get out of this hole we’re in”
McGyver got in the truck and (cross your fingers) hit the accelerator. The wheels spun and kicked the wood out. No movement.
All I could think of is “we’re fucked” (excuse my language…I’m panicking).
McGyver decided we needed more wood and said, I’m taking you and the dogs back down to the cabin where you’ll be comfortable. Read: I can’t stand the “I told you so” look, go to the cabin where I don’t have to be reminded of your baaaad feeling.
Back to the winterized cabin. I read my book. I furminated the burrs from Summer dog. I convinced myself that we were never getting out of here. I lit a fire in the woodstove so my boys would be warm when they gave up and came back. I got soot all over me. My fire burned out. I’m a bad mountain woman.
McGyver came down one more time to collect more wood. I asked “What if we are stuck here?” My first expression of my total desperation. McGyver says “I can’t think of that now” and heads back up to the truck to do what he feels so responsible for.
Then, 2 1/2 hours after getting stuck, McGyver drives back down as I am desperately trying to restart my failed fire and getting even more soot all over my adorable pink and camo polartech jacket. Honk, honk, woohoo, we are unstuck and it’s only 3:00 in the afternoon, time enough to get down. I can see McGyver’s elation that he unfucked the stituation and I am excited too, despite the road I know we have to travel. We are leaving on Saturday, before the baaad weather.
McGyver drives me and Becca up to the truck. Summer, will not get in the Rhino. Earlier in the summer, she was accidently run over by the Rhino. She has never forgotten and fears the Rhino. I thought she’d follow us up, but no way was she leaving that cabin. I mean, are you crazy? The cabin is safe and warm and fun! McGyver dropped me off at the now freed truck at the bottom of Jeff’s driveway, brought the Rhino back to the cabin and he and Summer would walk back up. Except half way up Summer decided “Are you crazy? The cabin is safe and warm and fun!”, she went back. So the Baby boy trekked down with the leash, nabbed her and brought her back.
We were all loaded up and ready to go. Ready as I could be. This reminded me of a time when I first was learning to ski, I conquered the bunny slopes and was doing the green runs with friends, no problem. Then, my more advanced friends got bored with the green runs and said “hey, do you mind if we go do some more advanced stuff while you work on your skills?”. No problem, I was getting pretty good, or so I thought. I hopped on the chair lift (easy to do) and rode up the “green run” only I didn’t realize that if you didn’t get off half way in between, the next stop was a more advanced run. I stayed on until I had to get off, at the top…. We went up, and up, the skiers started looking like ants and I got that baaad feeling. I got off at the very next stop….the last stop. It was not graceful. When I righted myself, I saw the sign for the run and knew I was in trouble. But once you were there, there was only one way down. I skied, crashed, got up again, skied and tumbled. Lost my goggles and hat. Skied, tumbled, got separated from one of my skis. Reunited with my ski, watched a 4 year old jump the moguls without poles and felt the fool. Got up, skied down (sort of), crashed into people at the bottom and promptly gave up skiing.
We were at the top and there was only one way down. I try to console myself with, it’s easier going down than up, but my skiing experience kept haunting me. I also tried to console myself with knowing that McGyver got us up here and he could get us down. We started down the mountain, of course the 1/4 mile from the cabin was the treacherous, snow drifted switch backs with a cliff hanging on the edge (this time my edge). McGyver navigated the corner, the truck seemed to have some horrible memory and the rear end started sliding to the edge of the cliff again. McGyver slowly pressed forward and the rear end would not cooperate.
He stopped the truck. Ragged breathing again. He was scared and I knew he felt the responsibility of the family’s safety on his him. He got out, he surveyed the situation (this time he didn’t need to pee..a good sign?). He got back in the truck and adjusted the side mirror so he could see how close to the edge we were. He had to back up. Tidbit at a time. He stopped. He took a deep breath. He pulled forward, we inched up and then the rear end, like a magnet, started to drift towards the cliff again. He stopped, he edged forward, then back, then forward. “Come on baby, come on”. It’s amazing how a little sweet talk with your vehicle will do wonders. We pulled through the worst corner/cliff.
It was all downhill from there baby… Actually my sphincter did not release until I saw the freeway and McGyver deemed it safe to remove the chains. We made it down, hallelujah! A weight should have been lifted, but when you have the fight or flight feeling, that racing heart and mind, that knot in your stomach, it just doesn’t go away so easily. I couldn’t even eat dinner that night, me, not eat?! I was so relieved when we pulled up to our little house. I was also so happy that I cleaned it before we left, it’s just a good feeling to come home alive to a clean house (I mean what if I died and the house was a mess?).
Home safe and sound, I texted everyone that knew that I was taking this precarious journey, to let them know I was safe. Then I had a few cocktails, I know, bad way to deal with your problems, but really? I do the best I can. I thought I would be exhausted. Collapse into a deep slumber, but I was still watching Food Network until midnight. I stumbled off to bed, only to toss and turn. My mind kept going through the what ifs. I got up, searched desperately for my Ambien (note to self to take up to the cabin….just in case). No luck, back to bed, snuggle with McGyver and finally sleep, real sleep.
We got up on Sunday morning, happy to be home. We took a look outside, and what to our wondering eyes should appear? Another foot of snow. As a point of reference, the truck had no snow on it when we arrived. The roads were clear yesterday, and now look.
Ummm, yeah, I need to take the fall decorations down.
We came home just in time. It’s a good thing that McGyver listened to my baaaad feelings or we would have really been in trouble.
On the way home McGyver asked the Baby boy “what have you learned from this?” The Baby boy responded “Not to drive up to the cabin when there is snow?”.
“No, grasshopper, the real lesson is to listen to your Mother!”
We had fun while we were up there, so you have to ask “was it worth it?”
HELL NO! Never jeopardize your safety for fun! This is coming from a woman who loves to ride a motorcycle, who loves adventure! But never without safety in mind first! Even crazy people who jump out of perfectly good airplanes put safety first.
Sorry about the mini lecture, I couldn’t help myself…
I never told McGyver “I told you so” but then again, I didn’t have to.