Every year at about this time I spend the night in Nephi, Utah, which is about an hour south of Salt Lake City. It is a tradition that I stop in Nephi on my way to Idaho to see my family, which usually expects me to take part in the Christmas holiday even if it means risking my life on a snow-slicked Interstate 15. Each year for the past seven Christmas treks I have stayed at the Best Western Paradise Inn (which I am plugging in an attempt to be gifted the leftover blueberry muffins from tomorrow morning’s continental breakfast), and head north through Salt Lake City to Pocatello, Idaho, and on to Boise.
What’s remarkable about Nephi, aside from the fact that it is such a simple name of a town yet can be pronounced at least three different ways, is the consistency of the weather. Every year in mid-December it snows and I mean in buckets. On previous trips I’ve been hit by snowflakes the size of white vampire bats as I pull into the snow-dusted parking lot of the Best Western Paradise Inn (reminder: muffins). Last year the weather was so bad I didn’t even make it to Nephi and parked it in Fillmore. That’s just north of Beaver City, which you might remember as a spot T.R. Witcher and I stopped during ObamaQuest. Or, you might not remember that. I’m not sure even T.R. remembers that. But it’s a little town with a few thousand prideful inhabitants and it snows there quite a lot, too.
But this year, in Nephi, there is no snow falling. There has been scant snow on this trip, just some stale residue of a days-old storm that moved through here last week. The only snowfall that actually got my attention was back in Cedar City. The Mazda 6 lost its traction for a moment, but it was so fleeting I didn’t even spill my drink (hah!). As I made my way along the bone-dry I-15 stretch of Utah, I didn’t even consider what the weather was like in Vegas until I got a call from my BFF, Robin Leach. He said that it had taken him an hour to drive from Caesars Palace to his home (which, as I have learned, is a place called the Batcave). He said flights at McCarran had been delayed because there are no snowplows at the airport to push the white stuff off the runways. Of course, he said this all in a dramatic! Measured! Well-paced! And thunderous manner! That call was far more entertaining than the Barenaked Ladies compilation CD I’d been listening to.
It’s a first, though: It is snowing in Vegas and not here in Nephi. Remarkable. If I’d decided to fly rather than drive, I’d probably still be at McCarran, cursing the fact that our airport does not have the proper equipment needed to clear the runways for winter storms that we know are going to dump six inches of snow on our city once every seven or eight years.
I can’t wait to get to the Gem State, to show my family the photos of Vegas under a blanket of snow. Maybe the mere possibility of a white Christmas in VegasVille will bring the tribe to me next year. As I consider that possibility, I pass along Chrismas cheer and (of course) champagne wishes.