Lesson imprinted in snow: "Be careful what you wish for!"
Shayna Lopez of Hanford/Lemoore wanted her family to enjoy a White Christmas in 2021. So she and her husband, Junior, took their daughters to South Tahoe over the holidays to experience the snow.
They got more than they bargained for.
"We wanted to see the snow for the first time," Lopez said of her recent family trip to South Tahoe at Christmastime. "I guess it was like the biggest storm they've had in over a decade. They shut down all the freeways."
The Lopez family had planned to return home to the Central Valley on Highway 50 the day after Christmas.
"We were supposed to come home on Sunday," she said, noting the family was forced to check into another hotel during the ordeal. "We didn't make it out until Tuesday night."
Thanks to family and friends — and some strangers from Central Valley who saw her TikTok video postings and offered to help out with money — Lopez said they were able to endure the extra-long snow days with good cheer.
"A lot of the [Central Valley] community was in contact with us," she said.
Although the Lopez family did not need to accept monetary offers from TikTok fans, she attributed the quick social-media response to her video postings of the ordeal.
"People I know from Kings County ... everyone was just really nice," Lopez said.
Because the hotel the family stayed at was overbooked, and because local restaurants and grocery stores had run out of food, Lopez explained that what initially appeared to be a dreamcation turned into a bit of a nightmare after the chains broke loose on their vehicle.
"I've never really used TikTok," she said via phone from her home in Lemoore. "I awake the next morning [after posting on TikTok], and I'm at like two million views."
She said her husband and daughters drove up to the Sierra mountains primarily for the winter wonderland experience.
"I came totally unprepared," Lopez said, noting she had no snow boots and very light winter clothing. "It was an adventure."
"Never again," she added, clarifying she hopes to visit Lake Tahoe during the summertime.
The family's return trip to the Central Valley should have taken about four hours she estimated, noting it took them 10 hours to get home.
"We had our White Christmas," Lopez said cheerfully.