In Salina, right next door to Braum?s, is a hotel. As a kid, every time my family would go through the drive-through to get ice cream on the way home from a day of errands, I would dreamily stare at the indoor pool through a fog-laden window.
I was always jealous of the hotel?s patrons, that they could go swimming any time they wanted, even during the winter, and I would wish I could stay there.
My dream came true the weekend before Christmas. My baby sister got married Dec. 21?the day the winter?s largest snowstorm rolled over the Kansas plains. The wedding was beautiful, my sister was gorgeous, and I gained another superb brother-in-law.
About an hour before the ceremony, snow began to fall from the heavens, adding to the gentle beauty of a winter wedding. At showtime, the snow started to pick up the pace, and by the time the reception was over, a good half-foot of dreamy goodness had accumulated. And snow was still falling.
Van loaded, ex-flower girls, ring bearer, groomsman, matron of honor and all, Brad and I started the drive home. I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep in my own bed. However, our defroster had different plans, and couldn?t keep up with the driving snow. At least crawling on the Interstate gave the passenger (me) an opportunity to aid the wipers in their snow-removal responsibilities through an open window.
With Brad?s parents close behind, we made the decision to pull off and get a hotel. Yep, the one right by Braum?s. My bucket list was calling.
We checked in. Unloaded suitcases?we were prepared to stay. Checked out our rooms and walked right back out into the blizzard to get some food. By this time, drifts were already starting to form around parked cars.
Braum?s was desolate, and my view of the steamy warmth of the pool window was blocked by whirling snow. At this point, I was just happy to sit down and no longer worry about my bridesmaids? shoes, which I had happily left locked in the van.
But then, it was time to sleep. And it was at that point my childhood musings over this particular hotel were left in ruin. Lumpy beds and scratchy sheets and blankets awaited me. Brad, who is blessed with the ability to sleep anywhere, anytime, crashed immediately. Luckily, the kids went to sleep relatively easily, too.
And so I was left to my scratchy-bed dilemma. And then dogs started barking. Guess my Braum?s hotel was pet-friendly. Oh the joy.
And then my sweet little gem of a bed partner decided to sleep horizontally, so little feet pressed into my side. Then she dove off the side of the bed, along with her stuffed giraffe, Polly, and her pink blanket. I pulled her back up and not 10 minutes later, she did the same thing. So I left her.
Now I had the whole lumpy, scratchy, terrible bed to myself.
Time passed. Dogs barked. Cars kept filling the parking lot as I checked up on the snow?s progress.
Finally I fell into a fitful sleep, still fighting those awful blankets. At least breakfast would be waiting in the morning.
But alas, tables and chairs to use while eating said breakfast were a hot commodity, considering the hotel was completely full. The jelly was stale, the OJ was watery, but at least the coffee was piping hot.
A couple California boys on their way to Florida needed to borrow a scraper and manpower to get their Dodge Charger out of the parking lot. Dressed only in T-shirts and jeans, we all felt a bit sorry for them. Rightly so, as they got stuck again right after pulling out onto Crawford Street.
Another family needed a jumpstart. After Brad and my father-in-law helped, it was time to begin our hour?s trek home.
To our surprise, the sliding doors on our van were frozen shut. After getting all the kids in through the front door and buckling all three carseats, we ventured into the beautiful world. Each door thawed as we drove?at separate times, of course?so we stopped twice to close the doors. As we traveled, 12-plus inches became 5-plus inches, and then we were home, safe and sound.
Was the hotel all I dreamed it could be? Absolutely not. Guess that?s the difference between childish desires and adult irritations. It all looks a little different from this side?except for that pool I still haven?t swam in.