Visitors take in the view as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla, Calif.

I needed a little break from our so-soggy winter a couple of Fridays ago, which lead to one wacky trip to the West. It was definitely different, yet it turned out to be fun.

With old friends Fred and Betsy nearing the end of their month in San Diego, a friend and I set out for a short visit with them in that lovely spot. The plan was to spend a couple of days there, then head over to northern Arizona for a short stay in Prescott.

What I did not count on was this truly oddball winter, one for the books no matter what part of the Lower 48 you live in.

I ought to have paid attention to reports of a snowstorm in Las Vegas.

A direct flight to San Diego turned into a two-stop to Oakland, via Kansas City . . . with long waits in the latter.

Not to belabor this traveler’s tale, but we did make it to San Diego after 9 p.m., where “F&B,”—as I think of them together—picked us up and took us to their place in Pacific Beach, which as the name suggests, overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

Exhausted from our travels, we had just settled down to chat when my cell phone rang.

I recognized the name that came up on my phone, but took a few moments to place it. “Kyle ...” That’s my next-door neighbor in Prescott! He’s a nice guy, but he never calls, so I assumed something terrible must have happened.

In any event, good neighbor Kyle called to ask if he could shovel snow into my Prescott parking spot.

Uh, shovel snow?

That’s northern Arizona, where they don’t typically get serious snow.

“Well, Paul,” said Kyle, “we’ve got 19 inches of fresh snow and another 5 inches is forecast for tonight.”

Guess what? They got serious snow. In fact, by the time it stopped snowing, there was 25-30 inches on the ground, depending on where you lived.

I made a few quick calculations, added time to our oceanside California stay, and thanked Kyle for the call.

Turns out it had snowed in Las Vegas—a huge storm that blanketed a large part of the Southwest, even dusting northern suburbs of Phoenix. A nephew living in the border town of Bisbee, Ariz., even reported a dusting of snow there.

So we made lemonade out of our lemons, staying in San Diego until Monday, calling to check on the roads before taking a Southwest flight to Phoenix.

When we arrived in Prescott, a couple of days of sunshine combined with hard work by road crews and the dry air in that mile-high city had largely gotten rid of the white stuff.

I couldn’t help but think, if that much snow had fallen in Virginia, driving would still be a mess.

Paul Sullivan of Spotsylvania County, a former Free Lance–Star reporter, is a freelance writer. Email him at

Paul Sullivan of Spotsylvania County, a former Free Lance–Star reporter, is a freelance writer. Email him at

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