After our recorder adventure in Nevada City on Wednesday, we stayed at home to rest yesterday.

We knew that snow was expected today but thought that we could get our grocery shopping finished back down in “Big Town” before the first of two storms hit.

We left The Woods at 10:30 this morning. It was raining as we headed up the county road to the state highway, then changed to snow as we neared the summit at 4500 ft.

The road conditions into Nevada City were fine, although as we passed Five Mile House (aptly named since it’s five miles outside of town) we noticed that the highway department had set up a chain restriction checkpoint in the opposite direction, heading towards Reno.

This was still in place several hours later when we came back up after our errands. It was snowing a little harder then, but only a dusting of accumulation was on the ground.

The road looked fine to James and me; we really didn’t need chains, especially since the turn-off to our town was well before the elevation truly climbed.

I suggested asking the officer if we could pass the checkpoint without chains since we were local residents, but James figured that the road would get more snowy as we neared our turn-off, and the chains might be necessary.

He installed them on both front wheels with increasing skill and speed; he’s already done this on several occasions this winter.

There was a hand-printed sign at the side of the road which stated: “Buy and install chains $50. Install chains $30. $15 to remove”. Wow, what a racket!

One young woman in a large SUV needed chains. The highway worker busily installed them on the vehicle’s huge tires; he had a large pair of heavy-duty shears which he used to cut the chain links to fit the wheels. James remarked later that these $50 chains were probably cheap and wouldn’t last more than one trip.

We clacked and clanked along the nearly snow-free highway at 25 mph. The groves of pine trees flanking the road were dusted with snow — so pretty. It looked like spun sugar.

Gradually a line of cars accumulated behind our slower-moving vehicle. It seemed to take forever to reach the turn-out to let the cars pass.

At such a slow speed, I pretended that it was 1910 and that we were rattling along in our Model T, which would have been a rather brisk pace in those days. This fantasy kept me entertained and less impatient.

Other than one short stretch of roadway that had a hint of snow, chains really weren’t needed. Both James and I thought it was “overkill”, but then again, it was better to be safe than sorry.

We also knew that Five Mile House was the only wide spot in the road which could be utilized for chain installation and removal, so today’s excursion was really just a minor inconvenience.

As we turned onto our county road, we recognized the owner of the General Store approaching the intersection in his truck, ready to enter the highway. We asked him how the road was down the hill, and he said that there were a couple of slippery spots.

So we decided to keep the chains on for a while, but as the elevation dropped quickly, the road was suddenly free of snow. We pulled off to the side and removed the chains, and shortly thereafter, the snow flurries abruptly changed to rain. Not a snowflake to be seen in town.

It’s fascinating to see how quickly the weather changes according to the elevation. A few hundred feet along the road can be the difference between rain and snow.

Once home, we unloaded our groceries with a sigh of relief. A bigger storm is forecast to blow through here tomorrow afternoon. It’s projected to be not quite as severe as the one Northern California experienced on January 4th (when our power was out for eight days) but there will probably be strong winds, lots of rain, and snow in the upper elevations.

It’s great that we don’t have to be anywhere until next Wednesday, our second rehearsal with the recorder group. We do so enjoy being at home, just the two of us.