Emilie’s Christmas Misadventure and Other Tales


Christmas morning, for the first time in my life, began with no one else at home. Typically I would wake up at my parents’ house, rush downstairs and open my stocking and then amuse myself with the contents until parents and siblings and grandparents were all assembled. This year, however, I decided that I wanted to spend Christmas Eve night in my own bed and then drive back to Shelton Christmas morning in time for dinner. My plan was going well–I got up and was ready on time to be out the door by 8am. I paused long enough before going out in the rain to take a photo of my Christmas countdown:

Christmas COuntdown

I took Yelm highway so I could enjoy a quiet drive before having to get on the freeway. When I merged on to 101 in Tumwater I was shocked to discover quite a bit of snow on the road. I had been told that my car, which I purchased from my parents, was notoriously terrible in the snow, but I had never yet had to really test it. I proceeded cautiously and slowly, and for quite a while everything seemed to be fine.

When I reached Mud Bay area the amount of snow tripled. No snow plows had been by so the road was covered in ice with only a few car tracks and the snow continued to accumulate. By this point I was traveling just under 20 mph on the freeway because I had no clue how my car would react. Drivers with four-wheel drive occasionally whizzed past me, slipping and sliding, and I was afraid that someone was going to plow in to me because I refused to go faster. At the 101 cutoff (where you can either continue onto 101 or head the other way toward Aberdeen) I was even more cautious because of the steep downhill grade. I made it down the hill with no problem. I continued to drive carefully and slowly, one car passed me, and then my car slipped over a patch of ice and swerved to the left. I calmly let the car swerve and then corrected its trajectory at the end of the curve, thinking back to Driver’s Ed and trying to remember not to do anything stupid with the brakes, and then the car swerved back over to the right. I realize that if I had kept allowing the car to swerve back and forth it is possible I would have found my footing–but with such a light car with terrible traction there was little I could do but slide into the snow on the shoulder. I was also in a blind spot–any car speeding around the corner would have plowed right into me had I remained on the road.

Those moments before I coaxed my car to a stop were interesting. I was thinking, in a sort of academic manner, “I hope I do not go off the edge of this cliff, that would not end well, I think I did the right thing with the brakes, well, that could have ended much worse”. I was an active participant in the moment but at the same time I was detached. I don’t know whether this is good or bad in a crisis–I suppose it’s better than me freaking out, slamming on the brakes and flipping my car or colliding into another vehicle.

Once my car had stopped–that’s when my thinking was less clear. I’d never been in a similar situation so I didn’t know what to do. Had I been thinking I would have called AAA, but I wasn’t. So what else could I do? I called my parents. My dad and grandpa saddled up and got ready to come rescue me. Apparently they were of the opinion that I should call AAA, but neglected to tell me to do so…

I waited.

As I waited I watched–car after car came down the highway, most going at least twice the speed I had been, and they all slipped and slid in the same spot I had. None of them went off the road (at least not at the same stretch–I was later to see cars off in the ditch every which way the entire route to Shelton) but they all could have. About 40 minutes in to my wait a car slowed down and pulled over. Two very attractive young men asked if I wanted a ride to Shelton. Now, I know what you’re saying, never get into the car with strange men! But they were very attractive. And nice. I wasn’t planning on actually going with them, but I went through the motions of calling home to see whether my dad was on his way. He was. I told the men this and after throwing snowballs at each other they wished me a Merry Christmas and continued on their way. Besides, who could throw away the joke potential and not call home saying they’re contemplating getting in a car with strangers? Not like I had anything better to do…

About twenty minutes later a cop car pulled up. The cop asked me what happened and I told him.

“No, I wasn’t switching lanes. I was going just about 20 mph. My car slipped. My car just really sucks in the snow”.

He told me he’d already called a tow truck, asked for my license and registration and told me not to get out of the car.

I didn’t know what to say, and I hadn’t remembered I had AAA yet, so I acquiesced and settled in after figuring out which registration was mine. That’s when I got sad:

sad christmas

And took some pictures of the view from inside my car to pass the time:

side view snowy view

The snow plow finally made an appearance.

A little too late for some of us.

Cars still slipped.

One car passed going slowly like I had been, and then about five cars whizzed down the hill and up behind it all slamming on their breaks and almost causing a deadly collision like I had been afraid would happen when I was sliding. Everyone stopped in time-barely-with some cars having to swerve into other lanes.

My father and grandfather arrived, with the tow truck arriving soon after.

It took the tow truck man a while to get my car back on the road.

tow truck

 

I, reluctantly, paid him and then had my Dad drive the car the rest of the way to the Park and Ride and then we all hopped in my grandfather’s van to go up the road home.

You’d think the adventure would end there–but the grade on my parents’ driveway is so steep that every time it snows we always have issues getting cars up it. My grandpa tried to make it up a few times but could not. Just when we thought we’d have to park down the hill, hike up, get chains, and then drive a neighbor from up the street heading out in a Jeep offered his services as “track clearer”. He proceeded to play for about 15 minutes racing up and down the hill, getting car tracks all of the way down to the gravel. After this we were able to continue home and, 3 hours after I set out, I walked into the house proudly brandishing the powdered sugar we’d needed for the cinnamon rolls that had been intended for an early breakfast.

 

Olympus Spa

On the 27th my friend came up from Oregon and as a celebration for her completing her Master’s thesis and me completing my Grad school applications we decided to take a day and go to the spa. I had never been to a spa before and was excited about the prospect. Day access was only $30 (or $35 if you add the tea room, which I did and would recommend) and I have got to say the experience was completely worth the money. Nestled in a nondescript part of Tacoma, the spa from outside appears to be a generic one-level office-type building. On the inside it is a cozy and relaxing women-only getaway.

The day pass gets you access to the pools and steam rooms, plus couches, dry rooms, and a lovely area with a heated floor where women were strewn with books or magazines or even napping. We started out in the pools and would return there throughout the day–switching temperatures when necessary. The pools range from very warm to cool, to an invigorating waterfall when, compared to the other pools, feels icy. The warm rooms vary in temperature, some featuring charcoal, some jade and other things that are supposed to improve various aspects of your health. You can learn more about them on their website. The restaurant located inside made for a delicious lunch, and the various sofas made great perches for reading. In the tea room you are given a nice china cup, one biscotti and are allowed to return all day to hydrate and relax by drinking hot and cool teas. You can easily spend an entire day there, and if you’re willing to fork out you can enjoy scrubs, massages and wraps. Some women might not like that the pool rooms are nude–I actually enjoyed the casual atmosphere and think that regular trips could really help a teen girl maintain a more healthy body image.

 

The Spilling Curse and Food Poisoning

Did I mention that this week off, other than the spa, has actually been kind of rough? The friend who took me to the spa stayed with me for a couple of days, and that first evening two other friends met us for dinner. We all returned to my house for a rousing card game, and during that game a glass of beer was spilled all over the cards. The funny part? After that evening something got spilled every day we were hanging out. I personally knocked over some coffee and a glass of water, and another friend also knocked over some liquid. It was like the gift that just kept giving…  On the 30th I was in Aberdeen and the third friend took us to a Chinese restaurant after we went to see Les Mis. I looked a hot mess thanks to all of the crying I did in the theatre (overall I’d give the movie a solid B) but was starving. I wolfed down my dinner, but then after having it sit I started to not feel well. On the drive back to my home not only did I start to feel worse and worse, but the friend who had been staying with me also began to not feel well. I tried to participate in a conversation but I really couldn’t form coherent thoughts. My head hurt a little but my stomach began to feel more and more upset. When asked how I felt I sort of squeaked out a “not good”. I thought I could make it home, but minutes away, on yelm highway, I had to have my friend stop the car. I had barely managed to whisper “pull over” when I practically fell out of the car and then proceeded to send right back up my entire dinner. Rice, chow mien, chicken…it all ended up on the side of Yelm highway. And a little tiny bit on my Calvin Klein boots.

After about five to ten minutes of very unpleasant vomiting and coughing and hacking I got back in the car and we made it home. Then the last little bit of rice came out. I felt about a million times better as soon as the food was out, but still did not feel well the rest of the evening–shaky, nauseous. My friend drove home that night, also not feeling well, but she did not get as sick as I did. SHe did apparently run out of gas so I wasn’t the only one with car troubles this week… I sort of think that I have impressive vomiting muscles–once something comes up I make sure to get it all out. [And no, there was absolutely no alcohol involved so don’t get judgy on me].

I was supposed to go up to Seattle the next day to spend New Year’s Eve with my sister after a whole bunch of other plans fell through. That night I didn’t think I’d be able to move the next day. I was able to move, but I just felt tired and didn’t want to go anywhere–so I didn’t. I got some groceries, took down my Christmas decorations, cleaned house, started Season 3 of Downton Abbey and read a book. The majority of the day was spent wrapped in a blanket on a couch. You know what? It was marvelous.

 

Conclusion

When leaving for break a coworker asked me what I was planning on doing. My answer? A gleeful “hopefully not much”! This past week has honestly been one of the craziest I’ve had in quite a while, with the car and the food sickness, hanging out with friends and even the spa. I recognize that my definition of crazy is probably rather tame–but for me this past week was extremely eventful. Not to mention expensive… Now we have entered 2013, payday has arrived, and while I wish I could have some more time off (who wouldn’t?) I am ready to return to work tomorrow and am grateful for the week I had.

Sorry about that last vomit-y bit.

 

Sincerely,

Emilie

 

P.S. I returned a kitchenaid attachment my parents bought me for Christmas because I already own it, and with that money I got a small espresso machine and put the rest toward a beautiful $150 dress that I got for $23. I also purchased a nice shirt for work that was on clearance for $10. Happiness!

 

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