Thursday, December 21, 2006
Next available flight: Christmas Day
Getting back to "getting there" ... we're still going nowhere, at least for the moment.

Five of us from CNN are here in Dallas. We can't get on any commercial flight to Denver, Ft. Collins, or anywhere near where the big snowstorm has struck. We were all set to charter a plane yesterday after our commercial flight was cancelled, but the weather made it too unsafe to fly. Airports in the snowy region are all closed.

Adding to our problems, when planes do start to take off, they have a whole lot of back-up, so getting seats seems impossible. Our travel agents told us we could make a reservation for Christmas Day. Honestly.

How about driving? The interstates going to eastern Colorado are closed.

As I said in my last post, a big part of covering the news is just getting there. And this is one of those weird weather stories where, like a lot of other people, we are stranded.

10:44 a.m. update: We're getting steady phone calls and messages from CNN staff in charge of planning and logistics, folks who are wracking their brains trying to figure out how to get us into Denver.

It's reminding me of one of my Dr. Seuss favorites: "Green Eggs and Ham." Pardon the paraphrasing:

Would you, could you, on a plane?
Would you, could you, on a train?

I could not, would not, on a plane!
I'm stuck right now. It is just insane!

OK, maybe I'm no replacement for the great author of children's books.

But I am eating eggs at the Dallas Marriott.
Posted By Keith Oppenheim, CNN Correspondent: 9:53 AM ET
  56 Comments
Hey Keith;
I'm enjoying your blog updates sitting here in a completely snowless Ontario Canada..lol I'll bet you're very thankful for that Blackberry at a time like this, it must be awfully frustrating trying so hard to get somewhere and being blocked (pardon the pun) at every turn.
Keep us updated and whatever you do, don't forget to call Mom!
Posted By Anonymous Bev Ontario Canada : 10:19 AM ET
You should take this opportunity and visit Dallas, How is it? I have never been there.
Anyway thanks for the confession about you calling your mum so often; I have always felt stupid calling her at least twice a day. Hum, my day is never as carzy as yours though.
Posted By Anonymous Gabrielle, Toulouse, France : 10:30 AM ET
Hi Keith,

If I were you I would go home. You tried. CNN has at least one reporter in place in Denver. I saw a report on 360 last night from a cold reporter standing in the snow on a deserted street. It looks like it will fall to that lone reporter to give us the news. We flew through Denver in early December right after the last big storm and I can only imagine what it is like now.

Christmas is an awful time to try and fly anywhere. We have stopped traveling by air during the holidays (unless we go west to Hawaii) for that very reason. There is the weather and the crowds to contend with. My prayers are with those stuck in airports trying to get home for the holidays. I hope they make it.

Merry Christmas.
Posted By Anonymous Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 10:37 AM ET
Just because I-70 & I-25 are closed, there are back routes to drive in on. In February 2003 they had a similar storm. Balconies and roofs were collapsing under the weight of the snow. Schools and businesses were closed. We were stranded in Denver trying to get back to Dallas. We rented a car and once we were out of Denver had little problem with the roads.

BTW, Anderson's reaction last night after the Trump O'Donnell package ran was the best 3 seconds of silence in television history. His expression was priceless (made me wonder why he ran the story to begin with but priceless none-the-less).
Posted By Anonymous Fran, Addison, TX : 10:40 AM ET
No where in any of these articles is Amtrak mentioned. The overnight train from Chicago will arrive in Denver this morning, a couple of hours late, but it WILL arrive unlike ALL the airplanes and busses that aren't running at all.
Posted By Anonymous Doug Kerr, Healdsburg, CA : 10:41 AM ET
I don't know... it seems selfish to me to try and get plane tickets while so many are trying to get home for the holidays...

What's the big deal about a snow storm anyway?? What are you going to report?? Oh, roads are closed, cars are stranded, electricity is out?? No big surprises there.

Just seems like a waste of time to me.
Posted By Anonymous Christine, Toms River, NJ : 10:42 AM ET
I saw the pictures on cnn.com. I wish everybody a safe trip how ever you get there, not only the reporters. We are used to those kinds of weather here so I know how dangerous it can be. We have no snow, we are on the grass. You could send us truckloads of snow.

Be careful all of you. Safe trips. Have a wonderful holiday seasons.

Joanne Ranzell
Laval Quebec

P.S. I think mother nature is having a fit or someone switch the map around!!!
Posted By Anonymous Joanne Ranzell Laval Quebec : 10:50 AM ET
You should check out Dallas - and even maybe head west to downtown Fort Worth -- both are great cities -- Dallas, you can see where Kennedy was shot - and Fort Worth has some of the best art museums in the country. Downtown Fort Worth is also VERY nice..
Posted By Anonymous Brenda, You Guessed It - Fort Worth : 10:50 AM ET
If you have time to kill, head to downtown Ft Worth and take in the Christmas decorations.

Might as well take Amtrak or rent a car back to CO. You can make the trip in 1 day as opposed to 4 days waiting for a flight. I doubt that there will be any standby seating available on any flight before Christmas Day.
Posted By Anonymous John Bedford, TX : 11:02 AM ET
I empathize with your current travel situation, but wonder if all options have been explored. In the mid-1980's I used to drive the Anchorage to Delta Junction route in Alaska...by myself...female...and in January! I have already checked the vehicle rentals available at DFW airport and several provide larger SUV's (Naviators etc.) which may at least get you closer to the action. I realize the interstates are closed, but there are other routes. Of course I don't propose you take chances that would make "the story" instead of just covering it....but I have confidence in your abilities! Get a vehicle with a navigation system...call local postmasters in towns you are trying to get to next...I have found them invaluable for information on passible roads in poor conditions...and take lots of shovels, kitty litter (for ice), survival gear for several days...and GET THAT STORY!!!...The rest of us would like to hear a good CNN adventure story. L
Posted By Anonymous L.Hawk, Mineral, VA : 11:04 AM ET
What is there to report? Lots of snow, airport closed, travelers stranded, holiday plans awry. Unless Denver is home to your news team, why don't you all just go home for Christmas.
Posted By Anonymous Ruth, Portland, OR : 11:04 AM ET
As long as you're stuck here, you should check out Dallas! Go to guidelive.com (ran by our newspaper) and see what all there is to do.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Dallas, Texas : 11:05 AM ET
My father was flying home yesterday from Cairo, Egypt to Colorado Springs. Although he got stuck in Minneapolis, MN last night, he did get a flight out of Minneapolis to Colorado Springs this morning. He landed safely back home at 9:30 this morning in Colorado. So the Colorado Springs Airport is open and sending people through! Maybe you should fly into there!

Now the next challenge is going to be getting my family from Lexington, KY to Colorado Springs for Christmas. Maybe the roads will be open by then!

Have a Safe and Merry Christmas.
Posted By Anonymous Sandy Lexington, KY : 11:13 AM ET
Hey, go East young man. How about a trip along the Gulf Coast? Watch out for flooding and tornados, though. Christmas 2 after the big K and R? Guess I'm just one who has lived in the snow for so long, it is just time to stay off the roads and wait for the plows to come through and close the driveway you just got shoveled.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista,ar : 11:23 AM ET
Whatever you all decide to do, just don't become "the story" instead of the ones reporting it.
Posted By Anonymous Genevieve, El P aso, TX : 11:27 AM ET
I was one of those trapped on a bus in Boulder yesterday. I rode the bus to work into Boulder, not believing the blizzard predictions, but not wanting to drive in the snow anyway. They were predicting two, three feet of snow, but it was sunny and bright the day before, and it was hard to imagine a blizzard.

They closed Boulder City offices about 11:00, so our office closed. The snow was beautiful, it was like walking ina snow globe down the pedestrian mall in Boulder to catch my bus. Everyone was in a festive mood. We love the snow in Colorado. There is never enough, really.

The first bus I got on got m almost home, then got turned back because another bus in front of us couldn't make it up a hill and was sideways in the road. They turned around, no small feat, and took us back to the terminal. The next bus got stuck in the snow, and there were so many buses stuck, and too few two trucks. I waited on the bus until it got dark, and then called a friend who came to the bus and rescued me and as many other bus riders as could fit in her SUV. I got home about 7:00, had to wade through waste-high snow that had drifted on my road. I was so happy to be home, and I didn't miss AC360, so that was a bonus. We don't get hurricanes, many tornados, but Mother Nature surprises us with a blizzard every so often.
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Boulder, Colorado : 11:28 AM ET
You guys can come and spend Christmas Eve with my family in Lewisville, Texas, just north of Dallas. We have plenty of food, good Southern, stick to your ribs cooking!!!!
Posted By Anonymous Leslie Ripple, Lewisville, Texas : 11:32 AM ET
Forgive my ignorance please. Do you guys live in Colorado? Are you trying to get home to your families? If so, Im so sorry for you, BUT, please dont take any chances - Your families would rather have safe then to risk anything. Merry Christmas to you all!
Posted By Anonymous Mary Hohnke, Michigan City, Indiana : 11:34 AM ET
You guys should just take feeds from the local affiliates - they HAVE to be there. Maybe you'll discover your next big news star?
Posted By Anonymous Arachnae, Sterling VA : 11:38 AM ET
Hey, I know some people have mentioned the CO Springs airport is open- however, once you get there, you're stuck there! My friends in CO are all stranded because I-25 is closed. Some of them got to the airport, live in the Springs, but can't even get home because too many roads are closed or not plowed!!! So if you do fly into the Springs, good luck- you'll be there for awhile!!
Posted By Anonymous Elizabeth, Loudoun, Virginia : 11:42 AM ET
The Dr. Seuss "poem" made me laugh out loud. It's nice to know you still have humor. Keep up the good work, stay safe.

It's times like this when you wonder why they can't just use "stock" footage and be done with it. ha!
Posted By Anonymous Marcy, Mobile, AL : 11:43 AM ET
If you Charter a flight you can fly into Fremont County Airport and Drive to Denver. I think we are the only Colorado Town that recieved NO Snow.
Best of Luck.
Bill DeBekker
Posted By Anonymous Canon City, CO : 11:50 AM ET
Why don't you come to mid-Maine? It's in the low 50's, sunny, no snow and just wonderful!! Lots of food, family, and Christmas spirit(s). Merry Christmas!! We are big CNN fans.
Posted By Anonymous Al & Judy Inman, Albion, Maine : 11:56 AM ET
As I am sitting here in Sunny San Diego waiting for my flight to San Francisco, I consider myself one of the lucky travelers. Even if the plane is delayed, I know I will get home one way or another. I wish the best of luck to all those flying across the country in this weather.
Posted By Anonymous Kelly, San Francisco : 11:58 AM ET
Why do You need to get to Denver...It is snowing, airports are closed, and roads are closed. I think it is a waste of time, money and energy to deploy your team there. Try covering some real news.
Posted By Anonymous Lee Dowdy, Aiken SC : 12:01 PM ET
This reminds me of Steve Martin in the movie "Trains,Planes and Autombiles" when he and John Candy where trying to get home for Thanksgiving. A good movie to watch while stranded in Denver.
Posted By Anonymous Dave St Marys Pa : 12:04 PM ET
I thought the seas just parted for you news guys. Now I find out that you guys are just like us mere mortals. I suppose the next thing will be to find out the truth about Santa Claus!!
Posted By Anonymous Chuck, Tulsa, OK : 12:21 PM ET
Hi Keith,
By the time you get there it might be all over..A little too late? I'd hate to be a Grinch, but obviously there's no RED NOSED REINDEER, coming to save your day..Take Care. Good luck
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 12:26 PM ET
Its a snow storm, who cares, Guess what there will be another snowstorm and an airport will shut down.. This is a non-story. Keep working on real stories, like why President Bush is still office?
Posted By Anonymous Big D, detroit MI : 12:26 PM ET
I think what you are going through right now to get to Denver is the actual story here. Many other travelers are facing the same problems as you. You should maybe try to do some live shots from wherever you are waiting to show what you have been trying to do to get to your destination.
I hope you and the others travel safe.
Posted By Anonymous Despina, Charlotte, NC : 12:27 PM ET
you could fly DIRECT to Vail (airport code) with no problems and then drive to Denver (from Vail driving West to east which isnt closed, to Denver. My family flew out of DFW direct to Vail this morning with NO PROBLEMS or delays.
Posted By Anonymous Debbie, Dallas, TX : 12:34 PM ET
Hi Keith, I know someone in Longview, Texas, east of Dallas on I-20, who is supposed to fly back to Denver this evening. Thanks for the update. Longview is in East Texas, in the Piney Woods, that are beatiful . . . most things there are still green. Rent a car and get the staff out of Dallas while you're waiting . . .there is much to see and enjoy! There is snow on the ground where I live. I wish I were in Longview!
Posted By Anonymous Terry, in Cozad, Nebraska : 12:38 PM ET
Why do you have to get to Denver? The local stations are already there, and can provide the American public with great coverage.
Posted By Anonymous Virginia/Minneapolis/MN : 12:42 PM ET
I'm sitting here in downtown Denver. While this was a monumental blizzard, it's hardly newsworthy enough to risk flying or driving in for.

This is Denver. It doesn't snow here as much as some people may think but these blizzards do happen. I'm a 3rd generation native of this wonderful city and knowing schizophrenic Denver weather as I do...it'll all be gone and melted under sunny warm skies before you know it.
Posted By Anonymous Thomas, Denver, CO : 12:44 PM ET
This is not news. This is better suited for a journal or diary. Based on the responses of the other posters, I guess this is what 'News' has become.

Pity...
Posted By Anonymous Andy, Philadelphia PA : 12:44 PM ET
Hey Keith~
Welcome to Texas! If you guys get really bored you can come to my house in Nacogdoches for Christmas. No snowstorms here but I promise you won't get bored at my house and we would love to have ya'll. Do you like mexican food and margaritas? ; )
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches TX : 1:08 PM ET
Hello from snowy Colorado. I live in Littleton and it is still snowing. I have snow drifts in the cul-de-sac about 5 feet high. I have 4-wheel drive, but it's parked in my garage with no hope of getting out. My puppy is thrilled no end and is spending her day disappearing in the drifts in the back yard. I can't see my patio furniture. I work in Downtown Denver and left about noon yesterday. I brought work home with me but can't get much done because people I have to call are not at work. I'm supposed to fly out of Denver International on Saturday to go visit my family on Long Island for the holidays and I'm getting nervous. I have neither seen nor heard a snow plow all day and since I live in a cul-de-sac, it's not likely one will be through here at all. So, we're on our own. I'm enjoying the time home with my husband, my sister, my cat and our new puppy. I'll try to keep you posted, but I'm off to settle in for a long winter's nap. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
Posted By Anonymous Marilyn, Littleton, Colorado : 1:09 PM ET
Colorado Springs airport is open now, but I don't think you can get to Denver yet. The highways are impassable. Once they do open, they will require chains and vehicles will move in caravans.
Posted By Anonymous Kris, Colorado Springs, CO : 1:23 PM ET
Hi Keith,

Just flew back to Seattle (the new "Windy City") from Atlanta on Tuesday and my first thought when booking a ticket....do NOT have a stop over in Denver! Make the best of a bad situation...enjoy some good Texas BBQ. Merry Christmas!
Posted By Anonymous Cathy,Seattle, WA : 1:24 PM ET
It ain't that excitin'. I'm her in CO Springs and although it was pretty scary yesterday when I was trying to get home, it isn't that exciting for anybody else. I doubt the rest of the nation really cares we got a bunch o' snow here.
Posted By Anonymous Jaque, Colorado Springs, CO : 1:36 PM ET
Hi Keith!
While you are waiting, let me tell you about the Blizzard of 1978. The whole country was shut down. I was in college and finals were canceled but you couldn't leave to go home. But some how a few, well, kegs were are able to get through. The year 1978 was also the year where the US had an "imaginary" energy crisis. Luckily, the crisis hit during spring break and I was able to stay in Fort Lauderdale an extra week. Oh, yes, the memories of blizzards.

Sorry no Denver.

Have you called your mother lately?

Moms are always accurate. That is because I am one.
Posted By Anonymous Sharon D., Indianapolis, IN : 1:49 PM ET
Hey Keith: Loved the Dr. Seuss metaphor but don't quit your day job! Sorry to hear you didn't get to Denver yet. I disagree with most of the bloggers here who don't think there is a story in Denver. They got hit with a lot of snow, roads/airports are closed, etc. Are there electricity issues, food shortages, health issues, accidents? Good luck and keep giving us updates on the blog!
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 2:05 PM ET
Greeting from Colorado Springs, CO! Most everyone is snowed in down here except for those of us who live on the West Side (of downtown Springs)--somehow we seem to luck out as the snow often just misses our little pocket. All of the schools are closed; I'm a high school teacher in D-11. Our principal made a plan on Monday about final exams. So we did get through some exams on Tuesday, but the rest have been postponed until we return from break. Good call from our principal and the district!

The northern part of Colorado Springs and those out east are stuck in large snowdrifts; the highways and interstates are closed. They even cancelled the mail.

I have to fly out of DIA to Kansas City tomorrow and imagine that the traffic into Denver, as well as the masses of stranded travelers at DIA, is not going to make for a very pleasant Friday afternoon. The worst part about living here is driving: we have only a four lane highway from Colorado Springs to Denver (about 75 miles) which causes many people to drive impatiently and foolishly.

Happy Festivus and a Merry New Year!
Posted By Anonymous CJ , Colorado Springs, CO : 2:06 PM ET
Nice to know I am stuck in Dallas with good company. However I am just trying to make it home after what was suppose to be a one day business trip. Glad I called United bright and early yesterday morning - got a seat on an 8:18 a.m. Saturday. Just in case, I went shopping last night at my husband's suggestion, making sure to wrap some of my purchase to open Monday just in case.
Posted By Anonymous Shawn, Bailey, Colorado : 2:07 PM ET
Hi Keith-you should stay in Texas. You have a better chance of seeing snow there than in Chicago! Hope you all get home safely for Christmas.
Posted By Anonymous Kathy Chicago,Il : 2:09 PM ET
Hi Keith-you should stay in Texas. You have a better chance of seeing snow there than in Chicago! Hope you all get home safely for Christmas.
Posted By Anonymous Kathy Chicago,Il : 2:10 PM ET
Keith,
It's currently 80 degrees here in Tampa. But I don't want to rub it in. Have you considered leasing a dog sled team? We used them all the time to get to remote locations in Alaska. Just a thought from a former FAA employee.
Posted By Anonymous Paul Proue Dade City, FL : 2:26 PM ET
If your travel agent "gurus" find you a way into CO Springs before Christmas Day, see if they can also find our son a way out of the Springs and into Detroit before Christmas. He was supposed to fly out yesterday morning, but alas like everyone else he doesn't have to dream of a White Christmas. But he WAS hoping to get home before the big day arrived. Good luck and safe journey to all.
Posted By Anonymous Mary Lou St. Clair Shores, MI : 3:39 PM ET
At least you're at a nice hotel. Maybe you can get your mother something nice for Christmas!
Posted By Anonymous Jess, Paris, KY : 3:52 PM ET
I loved that book,"Green Eggs and Ham". Now on a serious note, their is only a few more days till Christmas. Do you really feel like working? Have you read that book Humpty Dumpty? Are you just walking on that wall real slowly. Merry Xmas and I hope you make it to where every you really want to go. I hear the Trump Vodka is really good with Egg Nog while wait!
Posted By Anonymous Claude Calgary AB Canada : 4:32 PM ET
When in doubt, pull a technique from the Daily Show, just get a great picture of the snow at the airport and stand in front of it reporting as if you're really there, we'll never know and it will look like you all over the story! Merry Christmas
Posted By Anonymous Dave, Concord, CA : 5:08 PM ET
My boss flew out to Southern Califonia on Monday, with intentions on returning to Denver on Wednesday afternoon. While he's not thrilled to be stranged, he's at least in sunny So Cal. He's managed to find a seat on a late flight Friday evening, hopefully he can make it home to be with his family.
Posted By Anonymous Kristina, Orange County, California : 5:19 PM ET
Dr. Suess--
The snow is loose
It fell today
Denver needs a sleigh.

Starbucks is closed
No coffee to be found
The sound of snow
Falling all around.

No Christmas cards
No gifts delivered,
Mailmen sat in disbelief
And shivered.

Snow fell quickly
Inches into feet,
Deeper and deeper
On every street.

The airport stood still
No runway clear--
And they say,"It's the most
Wonderful time of the year!"

Santa's coming soon
3 days to go
So mind your manners
And enjoy the snow.

It's Christmas time
The world stands still
Something as simple as snow
Can cause us all to get real.
Posted By Anonymous Zann Vickers Easterwood Martin, TN : 12:42 AM ET
it would be great if you guys could make it here!! except the snow's starting to melt, it's really not that big of a deal. we have blizzards every 3 years, and we're used to it. but i guess people are amused by snow, i understand.

come to loveland. we're friendly here.
Posted By Anonymous jess ryan, loveland, colorado : 3:52 PM ET
These issues are one of many hoilday hang-ups the keep us focused on whats important around this time: "Getting there" and enjoying ones self. My perspective of electronics and policy lead me to assume that connections in no particular order will come out right as this is an even year, 2006.
Posted By Anonymous israel, raleigh, nc : 11:47 PM ET
I was thinking more of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," not Dr. Seuss. But at least you have a Plan B as an author.
Posted By Anonymous Andi Dennison, Gaithersburg, MD : 11:49 AM ET
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