Aurora, CO

Surviving COVID Snow Days: The Joy of Whiskey, Coffee and Chris Stapleton:

Road Schooled by Joe Trey: AKA Adventure Hermit

Photo Licensed through Envato Elements.

The video may have killed the radio star, but COVID killed the Snow Day. A sacred day for school children around the world. Remote learning has abolished the once treasured freebie of a day.

This morning, in Aurora, CO, I awoke to see a foot of snow outside. A quick check of my email confirms my suspicion. School is canceled. 

Throughout Colorado, snow covers the ground and continues to fall gently. Yesterday it was 51 degrees outside. Tomorrow it will be in the mid-forties. Every house on our street will be clear of snow but ours.

Regardless of future warm temperatures, we have one of those houses that never see sunlight in the front. Our driveway is like the dark side of the moon and never thaws. I start a pot of coffee and head out.

As I shovel the snow, I recognize it to be perfect snowman-snow—a rarity in our area. Snow is usually very dry. Pretty, easy to shovel, and useless. My daughters are fast asleep. Out of habit, I still turn off their alarms on such days and let them sleep a little longer.

With the driveway clear, I come in from the cold. I ponder the necessity of snow days during COVID and remote learning. It's certainly not a bussing issue. However, the Cherry Creek School system is operating on a hybrid model. Meaning groups of kids alternate in school learning days with remote learning days.

Today is a stay-at-home day for my girls. They won't get the same rush of excitement as if school were business as usual. Had they been scheduled to go to school, they'd likely have been disappointed. Seeing their friends only twice a week has taken its toll on them. COVID snow days are NOT Snow Days! 

First Cup of Coffee

Photo by @whereskingklare via Twenty20

With a fresh coffee in hand, I start my computer. As it spins to life, I see complaints begin to pour in online. Parents are outraged over the cancellation of school. They ask questions like, "why is school canceled if everyone is at home?" They likely lodge these complaints from the comfort of their bunny slippers, sweat pants, beneath three-day-old unwashed hair. Note to the unkempt dad's you do not look swarthy. You look disheveled and dirty. Which reminds me, I really need a shower.

I briefly wonder about the plausibility of a snow day with remote leaning. Everyone isn't at home. Some kids would be at in-person learning today. Furthermore, many teachers rely on their classrooms to effectively educate remotely.

I remind myself that we each have our challenges. Kids being home can be difficult. But, teaching kids online can be extremely difficult. Feeling smug for my altruistic thoughts, I attempt to reach around and pay my ow back. That's when I notice I'm wearing only one slipper. I get up and go rabbit hunting for the other. 

Second Cup of Coffee

I find the slipper downstairs next to the coffee maker. I'm unsure why I dislodged it in the first place. Shaking my head, I slide my foot into the foe rabbit fur lining. Is it ironic or coincidental that the hair of my fuzzy bunny slippers is on the inside? A problem for a different day, I decide.

A second cup of java beckons to me, and I oblige the call. Cup in hand, I head back to my desk to start work — no snow day for this dad. I light a scented candle at my desk labeled Malt Whisky. I become momentarily distracted by the intoxicating smell and the spelling of "whisky" on the candle.

Without my glasses, I squint to see if the label says whisky or whiskey? I try to remember does North America use the "e" or The United Kingdom? I could go downstairs and check a bottle in my cabinet. I could also ask Google. But then I remember the Chris Stapleton Song, Tennessee Whiskey. He spells the song tile with an E. You cannot get more Americana than Chris Stapleton. I'm not going to argue with Chris Stapleton. I conclude it's American's and our Canadian brethren who add the "e." 

A superfluous use of a vowel if you ask me. Similar to using the word superfluous when "excessive" would work just as well. But, in the UK, they use S's instead of Z's in many common American words — at least we don't do that in America.

For example, in the UK, they spell "Zoo" as "Soo." I don't know if that's true, but a cousin told it to me when I was in 3rd grade. He was really old, like middle-school-old. So, I'm pretty sure it's "zuper" true.

Zoo spelled with an S is just crazy. The only Soo in my world is Phillipa Anne SooShe is a young Broadway star already working toward legendary status for originating the role of Eliza in Hamilton. I can say with certainty that she is singing, Helpless, not Helplezz. 

3rd Cup of Coffee

Photo by @davep via Twenty20

With the E mystery solved, I ask Alexa to set alarms for my daughters' to go off in five minutes. I pick out my favorite ring sound, one sure to wake them up and roll their eyes when they see me.

When they rise, their bodies will instinctively draw them to their windows. They will sense they are waking later than usual and rush to their windows as if Christmas Day has arrived. The snow confirms what their internal 6th sense will have already triggered; it's indeed a snow day! 

Unlike when I was a kid, they won't skip breakfast, put on snow pants, gloves and hats, and rush outside. No, instead, they'll check their phones, snap their friends, and make muffins. They'll demand hot cocoa because it's "so cold out," and it snowed. They will act as if it were they that just shoveled a foot of snow for an hour.

I will, of course, whisper yes, making sure their mother doesn't hear. She'd say yes too, but coca always tastes better when wrapped up in a secret. It's also better with marshmallows AND whipped cream on top. This double-double combination would get a kibosh from mommy. They'll smile back conspiratorially and reach for their iPads.

Then with a ferocity of honey badger defending its stash of expired Valentine's Day candy, they will devour their pancakes. "Let's link worlds," one child will shout to the other. Yeah, the other one will call back. 

Side by side, with stunning accuracy, they will set about recreating the world outside within Minecraft. Their worlds will mimic outside with snowflake-level beauty and precision. Within their virtual worlds, they will build snowmen and make snow angels. They will even build igloos with working color televisions and wifi. What you won't see in this world is any shoveling! They'll mumble something about it's too hard to make a shovel while they create an ice castle that would make Elsa envious!

Photo by @heather_lee_wilson via Twenty20

All this thinking must make me thirsty. I head back downstairs to fill my cup again. Moments later, I hear the familiar strains of Missy Elliott yelling, my favorite Alexa ring tone. She yells, "Wake Up, Wake Up!" Over and over. She's like a never-empty pot of Folger'sFolger's coffee in my ears. 

Soon the girls scoot downstairs. Half asleep, my older daughter grunts from under purple bangs, "snow day?" "Yep," I reply. "Whoopie," her younger sister cheers, with the enthusiasm of a sloth that has just remembered it's a sloth.

Make that 4 with Marshmallows and Whipped Cream

Photo by @ira_lichi via Twenty20

I look at the cup in my hand, still empty. I pour another cup, emptying the pot. I reach for another bag of Love Buzz, no Folgers for me or the misses. But she will want her coffee when she comes down, so I set about making another pot.

I think about being "stuck" at home with my wife and kids and them with me. I feel for those experiencing hardships during these difficult times. It's not always easy for any of us. But as the girls prepare the griddle, I reach for the marshmallows and whipped cream. Being here with them certainly is the best part of my waking up. 

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Joe Trey is the Adventure Hermit! A moniker fitting of his ambivert nature. Visions of rock stardom drove him to get a BFA in music from the University of Connecticut. Not long after, he abandoned his dreams of NYC and relocated to the Rocky Mountains! He has drunk the occasional "toe." When in Dawson, one might say. Don't ask. Or do! His work and love of travel have brought him nearly around the world. Writing, Hiking, Camping, Music, Motorcycles get him up and out each day. Hugging his wife and teenage daughters at night, bring him home! Not a tortoise, not a hare (but a bit hairy in all the wrong places), Joe only competes with himself. Through his writing and adventures, he encourages others to do the same!

Colorado State

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