We weren't yet prepared to accept the one random person's word that EVERY hotel in town was already booked. Since the road was much too icy to drive on, we parked somewhere. We put on as many layers as possible, and went out into the negative degree snow storm in search of a room.
Snow blowing in our eyes.
We went back to the car for sunglasses to fight the snow.
We went into a few hotels and soon realized that the rumor was true. There were certainly no available rooms anywhere.
At the Comfort Inn, there were some guys hanging out on the couch watching TV. They were the ones who informed us that every single road leaving Santa Rosa was closed, and that there was no way we could escape even if we wanted to. We asked if they had heard any news about when the highway would reopen. Nothing. They seemed friendly though... they told us that the Mexican restaurant was the nearest place to eat, and invited us to come chill with them when we got finished. Okay.
We battled our way across the street... eyes stinging, frost biting, head colds and other sicknesses getting settled in.
At the Mexican restaurant, someone told us that the middle school gym was open over night, and gave us directions. But he also said that there was a pretty big downward slope on the way there, and we decided that, while it would be nice to sleep in a warm building... driving our heavily loaded car down something like that would be a horrible idea.
So we tromped through the storm back to the Comfort Inn. It was pleasant there. The sweet-looking man behind the counter didn't seem to mind us all hanging out in the lobby. He occasionally came over and checked out the TV with us. The older couple seemed prepared to sleep there on the couch... so we assumed we would stay there until we were ready to get in the car and go to sleep. Or at least until 10:00, when the weather report was supposed to come on.
We wanted to get some things out of the car (our computers, some tea, oatmeal, toothbrushing equipment, etc.) So we walked the longer, more treacherous walk back to the car, drove it to the Comfort Inn parking lot, and began to set it up for sleep mode. This process involves moving a bunch of stuff from the back seat into the front. Not too bad of a task, unless there are no degrees outside, and snow is blowing into the car and getting your bed wet.
But we managed. The bed was ready, and we were sitting comfortably in the Comfort Inn lobby where we had stuff to entertain us for the night, and a hot cup of tea with echinacea. (I was still sick, and, not being able to breathe through my nose, all that snow that had been blowing down my throat had made it pretty damn uncomfortable. But the tea was nice.)
Sound too good to be true? It was. Come 9:26... the squirly, gay-ish guy behind the counter quietly mumbled to us that the lobby closes at 9:30. I guess he didn't have the balls to tell us this a little earlier... that would have been embarrassing for him, and god forbid he be embarrassed....
(And it was especially rude that he kicked the old couple out as well... they DEFINITELY thought they would be allowed to stay the night on that couch.)
So we put our layers back on, packed up all our stuff (which there was probably more of than you're imagining there was), and left the comfort of the Comfort Inn. We still weren't ready for bed (our normal bed time is about 2 or 3, and it was only 9:30). Plus, we were anxious to hear the 10:00 weather report that the jackass at the Comfort Inn had led us to believe we would get to see.
We went to the car to get, among other things, our very special Altoids can. The Altoids can contained something extremely important to us. I placed the Altoids can in my coat pocket, and once again we set out, this time in search of a 24-HOUR hotel lobby with a TV. Into the blizzard again, on foot. On our colddd, numb feet. Still holding our tea, which was rapidly decreasing in temperature as well.