The True Meaning of Christmas? There Is No Defeating Nature
Getting snowed in for the holidays reminded me that I am at the mercy of almighty natural forces I cannot control
It was indeed a white Christmas. The Reno-Lake Tahoe area was totally snowed in, and the surrounding major highways and freeways were closed. I was desperate to get out of the city, but my flight got canceled, and there was no getting around the aforementioned road closures. I was stuck at home for the holidays, which was probably for the best considering that whole “Omicron” thing. There was nothing I could do about my situation. I walked around in the snow, played some NBA 2K with some East Coast friends whose holiday plans had also fallen apart, and pieced together an untraditional yet delicious Christmas dinner of chicken tonkatsu. Nature won, I lost, and I was OK with that.
There were, however, people undeterred by something as trivial as “unsafe road conditions” who weren’t going to let some“major snowstorm” get in the way of their holiday aspirations. After all, their maps apps offered alternative routes, back roads they could allegedly take to get into the Lake Tahoe area. Common sense would tell you that if I-80 is closed because of snow, it’s not like less traveled roads are somehow going to be clear. But with total faith in their GPS apps, some drivers dared to make the trip anyway. Spoiler alert: it didn’t go great!
Wendy Becktold, an editor from the Bay Area, determined to visit a sick relative in Reno, told the New York Times that Google Maps told her to take County Road 511 in Plumas County, CA, a treacherous route that actually closes every winter, though she was not aware of this. Per the Times:
“There were a lot of cars behind us,” Ms. Becktold said. “Clearly, Google Maps was routing everyone the same way.” … She and her cousin had seen a tree limb on a power line and had passed many cabins as they unknowingly pressed on. Then, a worker in a safety vest waved them off… “He said, ‘Everybody just keeps showing me their phones,’” Ms. Becktold recalled. “He was just like exasperated.”
Nearby, a family of five from southern California, driving a rented pick-up truck on their way to…