My husband Dave remained in Mazatlan when I returned to Kansas City on New Year's Day. His call upon my arrival was two-fold: to ask about my flight ("Nothing out of the ordinary," I told him), and to tell me he was praying for my drive home. Little did I know how much those prayers would be needed.
When the luggage arrived, I watched as fellow passengers opened their suitcases, pulling out winter coats, hats and gloves. Not me. With only a light spring jacket, I soon realized -- while waiting for my shuttle -- what 15 minutes in the freezing tundra can do to one's body. By the time the van arrived, my nose hairs were frozen.
This was obviously the slow death I had read about in tales of mountain climbers caught in avalanches. Ten minutes later, as the driver pulled up to my vehicle, he warned me of the icy conditions, helped me unload my luggage and left.
After opening the trunk and tossing in my suitcase, I used my jacket sleeve to dust the snow off my car's hood and jumped in the driver's seat to warm up the engine. Good news. It started right up.
Bad news! My legs were becoming numb ... and wet. Not normal, even for me.
Reaching up to turn on the overhead light, I noticed a strange sight: hazy clouds shifting directions directly above my head. You read right -- clouds!
Perhaps I was suffering from jet lag. Perhaps someone had painted a mural on my car roof while I was in Mazatlan. No such luck. My sunroof was open, explaining, of course, why my legs were wet. The front seat, console and dash were blanketed in snow. Since I never open the sunroof, I figured someone had tried to break in. A quick check revealed nothing was missing. Strange. Very strange. But more than that, fffffffreezing cold.
I spent the next several minutes scooping hardened frost out of my car while simultaneously punching the sunroof button several dozen times. Ultimately I gave up and turned my heater to 90 degrees.
Leaving the parking lot and heading to the freeway, I noticed my gas register was under a quarter of a tank -- certainly not enough to get me to Fort Scott.
This was probably the first time in my life I had not filled up on my way to the airport. Splendid planning. I stopped at a convenience store, inserted my credit card, and then pulled on the tab that releases my gas tank cover. Nothing happened.
For the next several minutes, I repeated this action. Still nothing. This was not good news. My options were few: pry it open, kick it open, or set it on fire. At that point, I didn't care what kind of damage I inflicted on this pathetic excuse for a vehicle.
Returning to the driver's seat, I started the engine (a little heat better than no heat) and reminded God that since I had only the following day to prepare for a three-day conference with my drama students, I really needed to get home. I decided to try the gas lever one more time. The cover popped open. Hallelujah!
Within a few minutes, I was back on the freeway, driving with my nose smashed against the steering wheel in an attempt to absorb what little heat wasn't escaping through the roof. Periodically I jabbed the sunroof switch. Perhaps there is something blocking its track, I told myself, and promptly lowered my window to reach up over the top of my car to check. Unfortunately, my arm wasn't long enough. I gave up. So did my window. It refused to roll up. Now I was being blasted with wintry gusts from the top as well as the side.
By the time I arrived at my home, the seat and I were one, and when I pressed the garage door button and nothing happened. I wasn't even surprised. I would just park my car outside and pray there was no blizzard or sleet that night. Or I could drive it off a cliff -- which was sounding more appealing every passing second. Fortunately, I didn't have to worry about that because the garage door did open from inside my house.
When Dave called and asked about my drive home, I thanked him for his prayers. "Why? Did something happen?" he asked.
"Nothing out of the ordinary, Honey. Nothing out of the ordinary."