No easy task to venture forth on the Fourth

I wish I could say "happy Fourth," but at the moment I'm feeling a little "bah-humbug." (Oops, wrong holiday.)

Anyway, leading up to the holiday, I was totally ready for it. I mean, I bought a flag and we hung it outside, the weather was warm, and I had a day off work, come on. Who wouldn't be happy?

Next came the actual day off, though. It started with cleaning the refrigerator, something I hadn't had time for last weekend, but something I needed to do to prepare for an upcoming party. All housework ended at about noon and the rest of the day was to ourselves.

But, before I knew it, we had to pick up the middle son from his job near Zephyr Cove Resort. This is where the real fun began.

I hate to admit we normally don't go anywhere on the Fourth. Believe me, the excitement of living at Tahoe is over about two weeks after you get here when you realize that you are driving to work and everyone else is having a big party, right in your way. I think it was our first Fourth of July here that I went up on the hill behind my house to see the fireworks going on over the lake. It isn't bad going up the mountain, but coming down can be slippery and treacherous, especially with a flashlight in one hand and an empty wineglass in the other. I guess I'm not a big fireworks fan.

Getting back to picking up my son, we quickly realized that we must have never ventured out of the house past noon on July 4. Cars were lined up along Highway 50 at the entrance to both Nevada Beach and Zephyr Cove Resort and people were getting in and out of them, blocking the lanes. Sheriff's cars were having a heyday pulling people over in every direction and Warrior Way, which has become a parking area for Zephyr Cove Resort-goers, was a zoo.

People walked around in nothing but bathing suits, on the street and in Safeway at Round Hill where we stopped to pick up some things we needed for dinner, thinking that we were saving a trip. I thought, this must be what it's like living at Santa Cruz.

Finally, we made it home.

This morning when I dropped my son off at work there were a few remnants left from the night before - a shirt in the road and some litter.

Soon after I discovered that other people, unfortunately, had a very bad ending to their holiday.

On the ride over Kingsbury Grade to Gardnerville on Wednesday morning there was a terrible accident.

The road was closed and my youngest son and I waited for two hours before deciding to turn around. I walked ahead and saw two cars sprawled on the road. One had practically nothing left of it and a Nevada Department of Transportation official was sweeping up a large pile of glass and metal.

During this time, on the road there were people playing catch and taking family photos of each other on the grade. At first I thought how ironic that, in spite of all the sadness surrounding the situation, they chose to continue their vacations. A little boy complained to his dad, asking "How many more minutes?"

A nice couple told me they were from Phoenix and had anticipated getting an early start home.

So I turned around and now I'm home and realizing that life's hard, but we need to have faith in something, and it might as well be the people that make up our country. Life goes on ...

For the first time since two days ago, I want to wish everybody a happy (belated) Fourth of July.

n Jo Rafferty is people editor at The Record-Courier. She came up with this column while sitting in traffic on Kingsbury Grade on Wednesday morning.


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