The Coast News Group
Small Talk

Counting my winter travel blessings

Those irrepressible optimists among us are often telling us to “count our blessings” this time of year. When you’re really in the mood to indulge in a fine fit of impatience and self-pity, that can get really annoying.
But as much as I love a good tantrum from time to time, it has come to my attention that I am going to just have to give in and start counting. For starters, everyone I love who needed to fly into or out of several storm-stomped locations recently around the globe, did so without a hitch. Amazing, really.
Several weeks ago, I got the goofy idea that my family and I needed to visit the Grand Canyon, just overnight, during holiday break. It was one of my famous, “Gee, that sounds pretty simple, right?” ideas. It appears my family inherited, along with my good looks, my failure to learn from past mistakes because they all agreed.
Somewhere I had heard it was only about a five-hour drive from San Diego to the Canyon. The idea of having my far-flung family captive in a car with me for five hours sounded quite lovely, in addition to finally seeing one of the wonders of the world. Somehow, in spite of being born in Arizona and having spent numerous vacations in that state, and having lived just one state away for 40 years, none of us have ever been there. A little embarrassing, really.           
So I jumped on the Internet with high enthusiasm and began to gather my travel plans. Yes, I know the Internet can be occasionally unreliable, but enthusiasm can make you careless. I actually found a site that gave very specific directions from here to there, with a chart of just how many hours it will take you to get there at several different speeds. The longest time was six hours at 55 miles per hour. That was all I needed to hear. Meanwhile, I found maps, hotels and got my ducks nicely in a row.
But the minute I mentioned the trip to anyone else, the first thing out of their mouths was “Wow, that’s at least an eight-hour drive.” I didn’t argue but I began to worry.
The short story is, we still don’t know how long the drive will take, because I had blithely ignored the fact that it is wintertime. It’s a bad habit you get from living in these parts. It will likely be summertime, some years hence, before we will prove or disprove those conflicting travel-time theories. Before we could even pack, an epic snowstorm slammed northern Arizona, leaving the Grand Canyon (and probably any roads leading there) under several feet of snow.
The fact that we weren’t stranded in my Prius on an Arizona highway in a blizzard went straight to the top of my ever-growing “Blessings Counted” list. I will take advantage of that other great thing about the Internet and look at photos of the Grand Canyon bedecked in snow, as I sit snugly on my bed at home.
I truly wish 2011 be filled with long lists of blessings for you all.