Blinded by the White – An Easter and Jemima Adventure

I’m Easter Yeggs, son of Detective Staff Sergeant Deviled Yeggs and Dr. Trinity Naomi Tesla, that’s TNT, Yeggs, PhD and many other initials, but most people call her Glyce, pronounced “Gliss,” since it is short for Nitroglycerin. She explodes when shaken.

You know, Dad, the intro to your mystery reports is just dumb.  I have no idea why I am even writing this.  Okay, except for the possibility that Jemima and I could get into really serious trouble, like we did last week, but …

Mom, stop right now.  Do not explode.  Think this through.  Calm thoughts.  If I am writing this, I am obviously okay.  Right?!  That was last week.  If you heard any rumor of being stuck in a snow drift in a wrecked Turtle, that was last week, and we are about ready to do some more storm chasing this week.  Jemima had to wash my clothes and hers since I spent the last couple of days showing a local welder that I could do my own welding on the Turtle, but I am way ahead of the adventure.

That’s why I think Dad’s report system is dumb.  Just writing “S’up!?!” should be sufficient.

Nothing really happened until last Monday, eight days ago.  Jemima and I were uneasy.  This is our conversation over breakfast in dialogue form (Dad’s insistence to keep it shorter):

Jemi: What do you think is really going on, Easy?  This does not make sense.  We are supposed to get blizzard conditions here.  We spent all day yesterday driving north to get into position.  The next big town to the west is beyond the top wind speeds and snow fall.  We are safe here, but we should be going right through the worst of the blizzard trying to get to a town that is less likely to hit the storm.  And can we not confirm blizzard status in the parking lot?  What’s an old blizzard anyway?
East: Jemi, I am right there with you.  But we took the same class.  A blizzard needs visibility from moving snow less than a quarter of a mile or 0.4 km and wind speeds over 35 mph or 56 kph and that sustained for three hours. They told me that they wanted the Turtle tested in the worst of weather conditions.  But we could do that from the motel’s parking lot.  I think there is an ulterior motive, but I cannot put my finger on it.  We have Dr. Quinn and Geoffrey with us.  We had Dr. Quinn last summer.  She’s pretty cool, but I hardly know who Geoffrey is.
Jemi: I know, but you won’t like it.
East: First hand knowledge?
Jemi: How dare you, Easter Yeggs.  With what I know, or I was told, I hate being in the same vehicle with him.
East: Sounds juicy, spill.
Jemi: I was at the student union last week.  Josie, the cheerleader who was a year ahead of us, saw me studying and came over.  She had heard that I was taking meteorology classes and she asked if I knew Geoffrey.  She had moved in with him.  He has a house just off campus.  His parents bought it, and Geoffrey rents out the extra bedrooms, stuffing as many people in each room as possible, but he has a harem in the master bedroom.  Several girls, Josie being one of them.  They get to stay rent free as long as he can use them whenever he wants and he often wants, usually two or three in bed with him each night.
East: It’s bad enough exchanging sex for rent, but having to share?  How can he keep up?
Jemi: Josie says he takes supplements to boost his stamina.  He has gone non-stop for eight hours.
East: But as long as this is strictly meteorological research, I will make sure that he does not make a move on you.
Jemi: Oh, my Prince Charming, but you are the lowly driver, and I am the lowly photographer.  He’s a graduate student.  Besides being a graduate assistant that could flunk us, he is bigger and stronger.
East: But, Jemi, I took some self-defense lessons from my Dad.  When my Mom took martial arts, she taught me a few things.  Besides, if we get into a fight, I do not plan on fighting fair.
Jemi (leaning over to kiss me): I knew I could count on you.

About that point, Dr. Quinn interrupted us and showed us her watch.  She said, “Thirty minutes from now, be checked out and packed into the Turtle.  Why I call it the Turtle, I will never know.  The latest panels you installed, Easter, are painted to look like turtle shell.  This is the top of the line in storm tracking high-tech stuff and we are calling it a turtle.  Now, you have twenty-nine minutes.  MOVE!”

We chugged down our orange juice and ran for the elevator.

Within ten minutes of leaving on the four lane, it was blizzard conditions.  I had to slow to a crawl in that there was no ruts to use in front of me or taillights of another vehicle.  There were reflectors on poles on either side of the road, but they were beyond the shoulder.  Most of the grooved warnings to let you know you were out of the traffic lane were filled with ice and snow.  It was close to being totally blind, except everything was white instead of being dark. I guess I was all revved up and blinded by the white.

I went very slow and I was guided by keeping the reflectors at the same angle with each approach.  Occasionally I could see three reflectors, but mostly just two.  Getting a hint of the curves in the road was hard.

Then as the reflectors were saying that the road was turning slightly to the left, Dr. Quinn yelled for me to make a hard right.  I told her that the road was turning left slightly.  She yelled, “I’m the professor.  You will turn a hard right immediately, driver!”

So, I did as I was told. We left the pavement and what little steering I had at that moment was necessary to avoid hitting a telephone pole.  She had her radar screens and such at her station.  She could not see out at all.  This made no sense, and because of the low visibility for everyone other than the two in the front, school policy was that the driver had the last say for safety purposes.

Policies were out the window at this point.  We were in survival mode.

I shut down the engine and everything other than the computers went dark.  The computers and weather instrumentation had battery backup.

Dr. Quinn asked, “Why did you turn the engine off?”

Jemima said, “First thing is to get a status check.  I am okay.  Shaken, but not injured.”

I reported, “I’m okay too, starting crash protocols as best I can.”

Geoffrey said, “That was a wild ride, but I am fine.  Glad I just finished the last of my coffee.”

Dr. Quinn muttered, “I am fine too.  I got disoriented.  I apologize, but what do we do now?  I see nothing but white out the side windows.  What is protocol, driver?”

I replied, “I shut down the engine due to not knowing whether the tail pipe is clear.  My request for a tail pipe periscope missed the budget, but even then, I would have to make sure it was not damaged.  I am already getting all my layers on.  I have on the balaclava, high tech hoodie and my motorcycle racing helmet.  All I need is the weatherproof ski suit.  I had the driver’s window redesigned to manually go down.  Without electrical assist, I can get my window open.  I tried the door, and it is stuck.  First priority is to crawl out the window and get the shovel out of the overhead toolbox.  I will work on the tail pipe first.  Then my door.  When I get back in, I can start the engine and warm us back up.  Jemi, close my window as soon as I leave.”

“Yes, Easy.”

I continued, “Next step is to raise our banner on the telephone pole.  It identifies that near the flag, there is a T.R.U.S.T. vehicle trapped in the snow.”

Dr. Quinn interrupted, “We have a flag?!”

I replied, “Yes, ma’am.  I thought of it and Dr. Kildaire thought it was a great idea.”

Within the next two hours, while the blizzard never slowed down, we had the turtle nice and toasty.  I was back out of my outer layers and sipping some chicken noodle soup Jemi had warmed for me.  The only means of egress were out my door, unless the snow drift continued to collect there.  Jemi’s door was blocked by the telephone pole.  The side door for Dr. Quinn was blocked by a snow drift, but the rear hatch was cleared so that Geoffrey could get out and help, but he opted to stay inside.

Jemi asked me if we can winch our way out.  I replied, “I do not want to be a bearer of bad news, but as we hit this snow drift when the engine and tires were hot, we’ve been sinking into the snow as it melts.  The water will then refreeze during the night, and we will be in a solid block of ice tomorrow.  We cannot winch ourselves now safely due to the low visibility.  The road should be closed, but we don’t know that for sure.  Besides, I am pretty sure there is nothing to tie the winch to except for the telephone pole outside your window, and that pulls us further from the road.  No cell service.  Stuck in a snow drift in what is now officially a blizzard.  We now shift to overnight freezing weather protocol.”

“Oh, dear.”

Dr. Quinn asked, “And what is freezing weather overnight protocol without heat?”

Jemi replied, “We have a thermal blanket to hold in the available heat.  We are told to strip naked in pairs and get as close to each other as possible to conserve heat, wrapped in the blanket’s cocoon.  Since there is no way for us to exchange places, it will be Easy and me up front and you and Geoffrey in the back.”

Dr. Quinn asked, “And I know you two have this hang up about getting naked in front of each other.  Are you complying with school protocol?”

Jemi answered, “No, ma’am.  We have researched it online and there are several studies that show that total nudity is not required.  A layer of synthetic moisture wicking running clothing is probably better.  Easy and I will do that.  We have that as our bottom layer already.”

Dr. Quinn retorted, “For violating a protocol, you could lose your jobs and flunk the class, but I will only drop you a half letter grade and only if you get cold tonight, especially if you get frost bite.”

Jemi and I said, “Heard and understood.”

I texted Jemi.  We could not send the text, so I typed a line and handed her the phone and she replied and handed the phone back.

East: Jemi, could this be Dr Quinn’s plan to force us into breaking our vows?
Jemi: She had you wreck this masterpiece of engineering and risked our lives just to impress her worldview onto ours?
East: How do you text a shrug?

About that time, Dr. Quinn said, “Good night you two.  We’ll see who sleeps better. … Oh. Geoffrey, you naughty boy.”  Then for a couple of hours there were groans from the backseat.

Jemi: Do you think Dr. Quinn heard of Geoffrey’s attributes?
East: It did not take them long.  We thought that Dr. Quinn and Dr. Ben Casey had something going on last summer.  It may be Dr. Quinn’s sex mania and whoever is available.
Jemi: You better not have any first hand knowledge of that accusation.
East: None whatsoever dear, good night God bless.

Sleeping while in a tight embrace leads to muscle fatigue and something similar to bed sores.  When we woke up a few times, we had to reposition.  That meant the outer skin temperature dropped until the temperature of both our bodies, at least what was touching was the same.

When I finally detected some morning light, and that I was alone in the cocoon, I poke my head out.  Jemi was fully dressed and she told me to brush my teeth before I did anything else.  In surveying the area, the wind must have shifted further east, where we would have been in a safe motel.  I would have to dig out again, but the snow was only up to the bottom of the window.  I dug out the back and got the Turtle running again.  We would soon have heat.  This time, Geoffrey wanted to get out.  We dug out all around the vehicle.  As I suspected, the wheels were partially buried in a solid block of ice.

Strangely, an eighteen-wheeler truck, filled with auto parts was parked behind us.  I talked to the guy.  He was from Alabama.  He saw the turtle flag and thought that if we were buried, he might have to dig us out.  Besides, he could not see to drive any further and he heard over his radio that the road was closed behind us.  He thought us storm chasers would radio for help.  I told him that we had signaled the local authorities of blizzard conditions and they closed the road behind us.  Then it dawned on me.  Our cellphones were not working, but that communication was with the authorities over the satellite connection for the instruments.  We were not stranded.  Dr. Quinn could have called for help at any time.

Then, having Geoffrey dig out the tough part, the passenger side with the deepdrift of snow, I came up with another idea.  I asked the driver if I could hook up to his toe pin.  He agreed, but he could see we were iced in, but I had a plan.

Geoffrey stayed outside and I climbed into the driver’s seat.

I asked if they were ready for my attempt at getting us out.  They were ready for anything.

I ordered, “Jemi, deploy anchors and wind skirts.”

Jemi replied, “But we have no wind.”

“Yeah, I am going to use the wind skirts to chisel through the ice.”

Dr. Quinn objected, “But the wind skirts are high tech materials to have minimal strength but block the wind.”

I replied, “They did not just change the skirts in front to work like a snowplow, they changed the skirts all the way around.  That’s why the paint scheme was added.  The turtle shell pattern is the tougher and thicker material.  We will lose a little gas mileage and top end speed, but I think these skirts can break us free.”

Dr. Quinn said, “But we are still stuck.”

“Look out the back window, Dr. Quinn.  We have help from someone from Alabama.  Jemi, deploy anchors and skirts. And ROLL TIDE!!”

It took about five smashes of the anchors and skirts, but we were free.  Geoffrey reported a couple of the skirts looked out of position on the last deployment.  Geoffrey hooked up the winch to the truck.  As we started to winch ourselves out, the truck slid toward the ditch, but only by a few inches.  Geoffrey was watching everything closely.  When we were back on the road, I told my new best friend from Alabama that I would have to inspect the skirts, but then if everything was okay, we would take the lead with our snowplow clearing the road for both of us.  The blizzard should not have affected anything past our destination, and he should be clear to the west coast.

He treated us to dinner when we stopped at our motel.  While he had given us our anchor point for winching, we had cleared the way through some nasty snowdrifts for him.  Really, once he pulled into the position where he parked, he blocked us from some of the worst wind.  It would throw off our wind data, but we had already determined an official blizzard.

There were two panels of the wind skirts that were damaged.  We had no storm to chase.  The Turtle needed repairs. And the road that could take us home was closed due to bad snow drifts.

There was a weld shop near the motel.  I talked to the owner and he wanted to weld for me.  I insisted that I could do it.  By the time the repairs were made, he wanted me to move there and take over his business when he retired the next year.  I pointed to Jemima and said, “She wants to marry the best storm chaser in the world.”  The old man winked and said, “It was nice knowing you, best storm chaser in the world.”  I have not told Jemi yet why the two of us were laughing so hard, but back while being stuck and Geoffrey and I were shoveling, Jemi had a talk inside the turtle.

Dr.Q: Jemima, did you sleep well?
Jemi: Of course.  Easy and I slept very well.  We never got terribly cold.  We had to wake up to shift positions, but we were fine.
Dr.Q: I heard that Easter poked you.
Jemi: Ugh.  You heard that?  He said he was having a really good dream.
Dr.Q: I bet.
Jemi: But it did not lead to anything.  He was ‘poking’ the middle of my back.
Dr.Q: At least you know his equipment works.
Jemi: Please, Dr. Quinn.  I may tease Easy for a while, but it is embarrassing.  How did you sleep?
Dr.Q: I am the professor and you the student.  We need not go there.
Jemi: Oh, this is just girl talk. Besides, you heard the ‘poking’ thing.  We heard you say that Geoffrey was a naughty boy and then a lot of groans.
Dr.Q: Oh dear, if you must know.  We generated a lot of sweat and when we got cold later on it was like having icicles hanging here and there.  No frostbite, but neither of us slept well.  But you and Easy disappointed me.  I thought that this opportunity would break the ice and you would forget this virgin thing.
Jemi: No, ma’am.  My commitment is for the long haul.  Is this why you directed the Turtle into the ditch?
Dr.Q: Absolutely not.  Umm.  It was a wanted side benefit.  The other storm chasing professors can sense the tension.  They know both of you want to do it, but really, we paid a lot for this vehicle, and part of that was that we thought we needed to test the recovery features.  They were predicting a lot less snow than what we got, so I wanted to see if we could get ourselves out of the ditch.  Following proper protocol in an emergency was a bonus.  Otherwise, I screwed up.
Jemi: Thanks for that, but back to last night.  Was what you did good for you?
Dr.Q: Little lady, that is personal.  One does not kiss and tell.
Jemi: I think it was more than kissing, but this is just girl talk.  What is said here…
Dr.Q: Stays here?  No.  You will tell Easter, but it better not go further.  The rumors are true.  Geoffrey is huge and he can last a long time, but I am sure both are aided with supplements.  His parents want him to either work for the National Weather Service or be the weatherman on TV.  He wants to be a porn star.  Considering it took him seven years to finish his undergraduate and his demo tape was atrocious, porn star is his best bet.
Jemi: If he barely graduated, why is he in graduate school?
Dr.Q: I am not proud of this, but his parents made a large donation and begged us to turn him into something.  This is his maiden voyage as the number two on the storm chasing team.  You and Easter are great at reading the radar and running the models to predict where to go.  If he can get good at that, we may make him the supervisor for the other team, Storm Chaser One.  This was supposed to be Storm Chaser Two, not the Turtle.
Jemi: We need to turn Turtle into an acronym.  T is for Trust, but then I get lost.
Dr.Q: And to make this little girl talk that only happens when we are alone, call me Ellie.
Jemi: You can call me Jemi.  Is Ellie short for Eleanor, Elizabeth, Elaine…
Dr.Q: Elvira.  My Dad was a Mistress of the Dark fan.  I think he watched just to see if she ever had a wardrobe malfunction.
Jemi: I might have seen a video online.  That must be embarrassing.
Dr.Q: I never, never, never admit that to a guy who might sleep with me, but one night with Ben Casey, we were getting our groove on when he started singing that Oak Ridge Boys song, punctuating the “umm-poppa-mau-maus.”  I know you have not done the act, but do you get the picture?
Jemi (giggling): Oh, yes, no more.  What did you do?
Dr.Q: I told him to get out of the motel room and pay for another one.  He did so and he did not get reimbursed for it.  The next day, he apologized and we went back to the same room.
Jemi: Is he your main squeeze?
Dr.Q: We team up whenever we are on the road, but we have never even kissed in the hallway at the university.  I do not think Dr. Kildaire would approve.
Jemi: But you do not understand Easy and my lifestyle, but I cannot see how your lifestyle works.  Remember, this is just girl talk, Ellie.
Dr.Q: I have been rather loose with the morals thing since my teens.  I have just hardened my heart to a lasting relationship.  I get my satisfaction and I move on.
Jemi: And you have never wanted to really know someone and love them?
Dr.Q: Oh, Jemi, that does not exist.  I learned that before I ever got out of undergraduate.
Jemi: But you reject what Easy and I have, which is true love and respect for each other.  It does exist.  It may require God in the picture for it to truly work, but it exists.  And with not giving away the sex up front, you might get to know the other person first.
Dr.Q: Now you are not doing girl talk, you are preaching.
Jemi: Okay, Ellie, let’s make a pact.  I will not blab to management about your protocol violations, like sex with a student, a grad student, but still a student.  And you agree that we can both be open when we have these little girl talks.
Dr.Q: I cannot believe I am saying this, but we are going to have to do a pinkie swear on that one.

So, everything is repaired, and we are going back on the road tomorrow.  Minor snow, but there may be drifts since the old snow is still on the ground and there may be wind gusts.  Just gusts, so we do not expect a ground blizzard.  That’s a blizzard with just the snow on the ground blowing around.  And do not let anyone know that you know about Dr. Quinn and Geoffrey, not even the Elvira thing.

Credits

And since it was mentioned and part of the title, sort of, here is Manfred Mann, Blinded by the Light.  For those wondering, Bruce Springsteen wrote the song, kind of stream of consciousness at the last second because they needed one more song for the album.  “Deuce” is probably referring to Deuce Coupe, and the Curly-Wurly might have been a hot rod of some sort.  Some of it seems thrown together to make a rhyme in a hurry.  But go-cart Mozart asking the weatherman if it will be safe outside…  That was too good not to add into this story.

When someone has frostbite, it is often suggested that they get naked and go into the cocoon with someone who is also naked.  This allows the victim to slowly warm up.  Wearing clothing puts an insulation layer between the people, and if that layer soaks the moisture, then that moisture can wick back to the body, making it feel colder.  My second campout as a boy scout was on the coldest night I ever camped.  I wore socks, much to my displeasure.  My feet were warm until the socks got sweaty and then I had icicles for toes all night long.  It may not have triggered my sinus issues, but I never had the problem before that night, and I have suffered from sinus issues ever since.  Once your feet are cold, you are cold.  But some modern materials can hold in the heat better than they did in the mid-60s.

And, has anyone not heard Elvira by the Oak Ridge Boys.  This recording is on the 40th anniversary of them singing this big hit.

But as for the other Elvira, here is a clip from a Most Embarrassing Moments Show, hosted by Steve Allen.

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