Sunday, December 20, 2009

The best laid plans...

We decided to leave Thursday evening for our drive east, in hopes that we would get ahead of the storm predicted for overnight Friday/Saturday. We planned to drive straight through, alternating drivers. That would get us in Friday evening, before the storm.

That is not what happened. We were making good time, listening to local weather reports, when about 5:00pm we ran smack into the blizzard. The radio was announcing, "It's raining now, but will soon turn to snow," as we were driving in snow. In under half an hour, we were at a standstill on 64 in West Virginia, near Beckley. It was snowing hard, but we had no idea why the back-up. We assumed an accident. I was texting and talking to my friend Melissa, who was trying to find out online what was going on. She could not find anything about 64 in WV.

A couple hours later, it was snowing even harder, icing up, and we learned that an 18 wheeler had jack knifed on a hill up ahead. Eventually one plow came up alongside the shoulder, and everyone tried to scoot their cars over to make room for it. Seven hours later cars started to move. Yes, seven.

By this time, there were a couple feet of snow on the ground, and none of the road we were on was plowed, because it was packed with cars. Our minivan would not spinning, smell of rubber burning, but no motion. Until it started going backward in a circle.

Yeah, so my husband says he and the boys will push the car, and I will drive it. Talk about scary! I was just praying the whole time, "Please, God, do not let me drive over my children!" The boys were behind the van, where I could not see them, and my husband was pushing from the side, either left or right, depending on which direction we needed the car to move.

It worked. We went through this each time the traffic moved forward, little by little, with them jumping out to push, my husband yelling things like, "Hard left! Hard left!" Me, yelling back, "It's as left as it can go!" even as the car was moving right.

Scary. Constantly praying, "Please, God, don't let me crush them with the car. Please!"

Eventually we got to the bottom of the hill, and the guys were able to get back in the car before I headed up it. Such brave and strong men! Really, they were quite impressive.

We made it to the top of the hill!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We had been there about eight hours by the time we got out of it.

A few miles down the road was a service center - one of those combination gas station, Burger King, truck stop places. Considering that we were in a blizzard and had just spent eight hours stuck on the tollway, we ignored the "no dogs allowed" sign and went inside.

You know how some of these rest stops are all clean and others are gross? This one was gross. It had three distinct areas of aroma: smokey trucker lounge, dirty bathroom, and rarely cleaned grease pit. It was slowly filling with people like us, who had made it up the hill. Nobody seemed to mind the dogs. Except the manager, who after a couple hours noticed Jeb.

So my kids stayed inside and slept on the tables. (We had blankets and pillows with us.) My husband and I went out to the car with the dogs. The travel center was so nasty that I was happier in the car than there, but I still think it STINKS that anyone would kick out a dog into a blizzard!!!!

This morning we headed back up 64 to Charleston. We passed over 10 miles of cars that were still sitting where we had been the night before!

Our side of the road was kinda-sorta plowed. My sister called, and I told her our situation. She sprang into super-sister mode and found the nearest motel that accepted dogs and booked and paid for rooms for us. We checked in, showered, and I fell asleep.

My husband went to Walmart and bought new tires. We had stripped the edges of our front tires, and not knowing what would be next, we wanted fresh tires.

Now, here is something odd - there were no local weather and road reports anywhere on the tv or radio. We knew more about the weather in Philadelphia than in WV.

This morning, we decided to avoid the southern route and head north and then east, which we did. The roads were dry, but in WV all sorts of abandoned cars were on the roads. We pulled into one gas station that had several snowed in cars sitting at the pumps. Signs read "no gas," and that was as far as they could go.

Most of the roads we drove today had been plowed and were dry. So we arrived at Mimi's about 5:00pm - two days later than we'd anticipated, but safe, and that is the most important thing.


red said...

It was nothing really. And I could never have done it without the warmth of my hat of nerdiness(+4 to nerdiness).

MAAM said...

I'm so glad you are finally here!

TexasHeather said...

whew -- glad you guys are safe!! what a harrowing journey.

Tig said...


Sarah said...

Holy cow! Your FB status update truly didn't tell the real story. Glad you are safe!