Denver: Let It Snow

Denver is having another close encounter with Old Man Winter. It looks a lot more like the old west that is depicted in the movies. Luckily, it doesn’t happen very often. Then again, if it did, we would have enough snow plows to get the place cleaned up quick. Like Anchorage.

One of the things I’ve had to explain to people here, especially the Texans, is that when you live some place that is cold and snowy, you spend more money to keep life going when the snow falls. But a 2 foot snow storm every 20 years hardly justifies the number of snow plows it takes to clear the main roads and side streets quickly. In the 14 years I lived in Alaska, I don’t remember getting stranded once. I sure remember how the plows would go by and the driver carefully lifted it just before every driveway so you didn’t get ‘bermed’ in. They also tried to plow close enough to the mailboxes the trucks could get up to them.

Here, 2 feet brings the city to a standstill. People don’t understand how compressed snow can high center a vehicle in a few feet. Then you start digging. We had enough warning about this storm that I told the boss Tuesday before I left work at 7:30 pm “I live two miles away, I have snowshoes and it’s all downhill” I got the call when we were still only about 6 inches yesterday morning. One of the night nurses who lives up in the mountains a little ways was already snowed in.

About 3:30 I went out to shovel out the van and clear the drive and street enough to get out. It was a good 18 inches by then. I went the 6 or so houses to the end of the street where the cross street is one of the secondaries that is plowed early. Looked good once I got out of the driveway. An hour or so later, I back the van out, then tried to pull it over a little so anyone could get by. Ooops, caught a little too much snow. Got that dug out, straightened it just a little and went inside to clean up. Another hour and I was loading my extra stuff in the van. Cleaned off another 4 inches and took off down the street. Realized a little too late the plow had bermed in the street intersection.

High centered again, I was digging out when some guy in a 4wd came by and said he would pull me out if I was going home. Eventually he relented and I got to work about 15 minutes late. My boss had made arrangements for the day shift to sleep on an empty floor and had brought in a lot of food. The night was long and tiring – mostly because of all the shoveling I did to get there.

Today I got off just at 7:30 am, got out of the parking lot and to the bottom of my street. It looked like there wasnt that much more snow and someone else had put some nice tracks in. I pulled in, got stuck cockeyed instead of straight so people could pass me. More digging and pushing, I left a sign, collected the essentials and hiked home.

I was surprised to find out how much more snow was in my yard. I had left the dog with plenty of water, her feeder bowl half full and, the dog door to get out. As I opened the front door it occured to me she might have had trouble getting out the back. Sure enough she had not been out. When I opened the whole door she tore out – made it about 4 feet when it hit her the snow was up to her back and it was tough going. When she stopped there was no room to turn around. I tried telling her to put it in reverse, eventually she figured it out and curled around enough to get her head in the right direction. She didn’t try to pee so I hope there are no surprise puddles somewhere.

Well, I have to go study the backs of my eyelids before the screen disappears. The real irony of this is that for years after we moved here, my kids were upset that Denver doesn’t get that much snow, and often none for Christmas. It’s warm enough to GOLF some years. This year they’re both in Anchorage, and Denver is getting a Christmas blizzard. Oh well.

Update: 12/22 Yesterday I got up around 3 pm and went to dig the van out so I could get to work today. The snow was thankfully light but still took the better part of two hours. I pulled into a parking lot about 1/2 a block down the street where my hairdresser is. There is also a home oxygen delivery place there so they had gotten the lot cleared. The best laid plans: I got down there early this am to find the INSIDE of the windows were as frosted as the outside. Harder to scrape off but, I finally get out of the lot onto the side street that seemed fine at the intersection, until again the berm turned out to be deep enough to snag the van. Another 20 minutes of digging, this time in 7 degrees, lying in the road to get to the icy snow packed under the right front corner. That was cold. If this happens again while I work at this place, I’m just going to WALK!!!

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5 Responses to Denver: Let It Snow

  1. Teresa says:

    Eighteen inches in my driveway Ginny!!

    If I don’t get out by tomorrow, send in supplies!

  2. Teresa says:

    What an ordeal for you. It doesn’t pay to be a good responsible working girl!

  3. Marjorie G says:

    Grew up in Boston, with a backyard that produced great drifts many feet high.

    However, my best adventure was in Denver in the early eighties, maybe 1980. Two feet, with one foot of it in what felt like an hour.

    Worked downtown, Alan at the Rocky Mopuntain News when it was THE paper, and I at May D&F, as mattress and summer furniture buyer. We left early, maybe 11:00, traveling east on Colfax by bus, pushing it when it stalled. Well, Alan pushed.

    From there, we walked all the way south on University Blvd to Hampden Ave and Grape St, with the sun finally breaking late afternoon at a donut shoppe. Luckily I had comfortable boots (purchased when I wore too tight boots on a plane to Switzerland, prying them off to buy these comfy, large fur boots that looked like reindeer.)

    A six hour adventure in winter wonderland.

  4. YvonneCa says:

    Ginny…GREAT story ! I have so much admiration for those of you who have to cope with snow IN ADDITION to all of life’s other responsibilities. I couldn’t do it.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  5. Ginny Cotts says:


    That was the ’83 blizzard. My sisters, spouse and kids were in town at Mom’s little three bedroom in Aurora. They were snowed in for five days I think. Mom was in heaven: two daughters, one son-in-law and two grandkids trapped in her company!!


    Glad you enjoyed. I’ve seen articles a couple of times now on how popular and helpful it has been for people in the middle of an emergency situation to live blog. I had seen a few from Denver and it seemed like it would be kind of fun for a change. Since I grew up in Chicago area, I dearly love winter and snow. Alaska had it a little longer than I really liked, but at least it was definitively winter, with snow from October to April…

    Dad and his wife were due to fly out Thursday. They were unable to find a magic carpet so will get in Sunday evening.

    Teresa, are you out yet? I actually made it up to the house tonight and parked on the street in front of my next door neighbor. Tommorrow I have to shovel the drive and street to get the van back in.