Saturday, December 02, 2006

A Memorable Birthday

Caroline's thirteenth birthday was one I don't think she'll easily forget. Ice and snow had been forecast for St. Louis on Thursday and Friday. Driving home on Thursday evening, the highway was slushy, and we fully expected to wake with to a blanket of snow on the ground. We already knew that Rosati and Fontbonne were closed on Friday, and I wasn't expecting to go in to work. I thought maybe I could get a little work done at home.

When I woke up about 6 am on Friday morning, our power was out. I checked our thermostat, which we have set at 63 degrees overnight (I know, the kids complain that it is like a meat locker in our house--we think that keeping the house cool is why they are all so healthy!). The thermostat showed a temperature of 62 degrees, so I figure the power had gone out shortly before I woke up. Since all of our electric clocks have digital displays, we couldn't tell exactly when the power went out. I turned on the portable radio so Caroline could hear her birthday greeting on KMOX (they were in a hurry--they called her Carol Kopff!)

I got my car de-iced and went to McDonald's so we could all have a hot breakfast--and I really needed some coffee! Breakfast was a big hit with all concerned. Then we turned our thoughts to how to cope with having no electricity. All I could think of was the aftermath of the storms last July. Some people were without power for 5 days or more. KMOX radio was telling us that some 500,000 people were without power, so there was no way to know when we'd get power back. We called several hotels near us, but they were all booked up already. I finally found us a room at the Drury Plaza Hotel downtown at 4th and Market. The hotel has a pool and hot tubs, free drinks and snacks in the evening and a free breakfast buffet in the morning. The kids were ready to go right away, but check-in wasn't until 3 pm!

We spent the day cleaning off the cars, shoveling the driveway, and getting our affairs in order--letting Cal and Rita, our neighbors, know where we'd be, getting our overnight bags packed, filling a bag with sodas and snacks. (Gotta have those snacks!) We gave Caroline her birthday presents early, cleaned up the kitchen, and finally, it was 2:30 and time to go.

We got to the hotel and checked in--I parked the van in the basement of the garage, and went to the room. Caroline, Emily, and Deb were already off exploring. Amanda was catching up on her TV watching. (It's kind of sad how dependent we are on the TV and the computer to fill our days.)

Well, the hotel was wonderful. We had dinner at Max and Erma's, then Emily and Caroline went to the exercise room, and Amanda went back to watch more TV. Deb and I visited the lounge in the lobby and got some of our free drinks (three free drinks per adult guest during happy hour--what a deal!). Then Deb headed up to the room for a nice hot shower, while Emily and Caroline and I went for a swim and a visit to the hot tub. The hotel was filled with other families and travelers taking refuge from the storm, so it was almost a festival atmosphere. The breakfast buffet offered pancakes, sausage patties, eggs, biscuits and gravy, as well as cereal, bagels, and danish. Quite a deal for free--we all ate our fill.

When it came time to check out, I was happy to be heading home (our neighbors had called the previous evening to say our power was restored) but a little sad to be ending our mini-vacation. Let's just hope the powere stays on!