Sunday, January 3, 2010

It's Hard To

know where to begin when it's been so long. It's like picking up your journal and realizing it's been a few months since you wrote. Whoops.

We had a fun Thanksgiving and Christmas. We went up to my parents' house in Virginia for both. For Thanksgiving, I left the Saturday before with the kids, and Jeff drove up Wednesday night after work. That was a great trip. I got to meet my niece, Daisy, for the first time, introduce Katelyn to the family, and hang out with my sisters. I actually didn't see very much of Jeff on that trip, since he left to come home earlier than I did too, but we both had a nice time.

For Christmas, he got two weeks off work, which was AMAZING! So we got to drive up together, which was a very good thing. Looking back, if I had had to face all that happened by myself, it would have been disastrous. Ready for the tale?

We were planning to leave the Saturday morning before Christmas. So I was taking all day Friday to do laundry, shop, and pack. But then I got a call from my mom in the early afternoon, and she told me that a blizzard was expected in their area that night and we might not make it if we left at our planned time. I decided the best thing to do was throw everything in a suitcase and take off the minute Jeff got home, and try to outrun the storm. We left at 4:00 pm. Kid-less, the trip takes about 8 1/2 hours. With kids, 10 or 11. So we expected to get there in the earliest hours on Saturday, and hopefully the snow wouldn't have gotten too bad. This was not to be.

As we were getting ready to leave South Carolina, there was a flash flood warning for all the surrounding counties. So traffic was really slow and we didn't get the jumpstart we had hoped for. We drove and drove and it seemed to take forever. Somewhere in the northern part of North Carolina we started to run into snow on the ground. We hoped that it was snow from a previous fall and that the blizzard had not yet arrived. As we crossed the border into Virginia, we knew we were wrong. Snow was falling fast. When I had talked to my mom, she said the snow was supposed to start at midnight. It came early, and it came fast. By midnight, we were in the Richmond area and could go no further. We were going 10-15 mph and the snow was getting deeper by the minute. We saw dozens and dozens of cars stranded everywhere around the road. We knew it was likely that if we kept going we'd get stranded too, but we were also terrified of trying to go on an off-ramp, since those tended to be either uphill or downhill and we saw plenty of people stuck there too.

Finally we saw a ramp that looked promising. Right as we were about to exit (going maybe 10 mph) the car in front of us on the ramp got stuck. Jeff was able to maneuver around them and make it to the local road. Those roads were even worse, since they hadn't even been plowed once like the highway had. We were driving the car over a foot of snow. We almost got stuck a few times, but we made it to a motel. Jeff was amazing. I don't know how he got the van there, but it was awesome. I was so grateful for him.

So we spent that night in a motel. We hadn't been planning on that, and didn't really have any of the sleeping supplies for the kids. Katelyn slept in her carseat and did ok, but Jeffy and I tried to share a bed and that was unpleasant. Very unpleasant. It was around 3 am that he finally fell asleep, then it seemed like no one could stay asleep. None of us got much rest that night. We woke up, looked outside and saw mounds and mounds of snow. We knew it wouldn't be easy, but didn't want to just stay there, so we decided to press on.

This was the worst day ever. Ugh. We left at 7 am, gave up and got another motel at 2 pm and had gone maybe 1 1/2 hours worth of driving at the regular speed. It was still snowing, and no one was plowing, so the conditions were horrible. On top of that, our heating started to go out, so the defrost wasn't working and the windshield wipers were getting so caked with ice that they were pulled away from the windshield and wiping away anything at all. We pulled over a few times and Jeff got out and broke the ice off the windshield wipers and they would last maybe 10 minutes, then he'd have to get out and to it again. And we weren't alone. Everywhere we looked, there were people pulled over, breaking the ice off their windshield wipers too. But, the thing was, there was no where to pull off to, since the shoulders had about two feet of snow. People just kind of pulled a little bit off, so there was basically one lane for driving and one lane for stopping. Under every bridge and overpass, there were as many cars as could fit pulled over with people scraping off ice. It was like the scene of some natural disaster/evacuation movie.

We were less than one hour away from my home, but we weren't making any progress. When you're going 10 mph and you have to stop every ten minutes, it's hard to get where you're going. So we gave up and decided to get another motel. This time we did get stuck, right at the entrance to the motel parking lot. Thankfully, there was a guy with a tractor/snow plow who was plowing right there and he helped us get unstuck and safely into the lot. I was so grateful for his help. Later Jeff would pay that forward by helping many other people get unstuck.

That night was better than the previous for everyone else, but not really for me. Many people were getting motels and the rooms were limited, so we could only get a room with one double bed. So Jeffy, Jeff, and I were all shoved into that little bed. Jeff was against the wall, Jeffy sprawled out in the middle, and I had a few inches on the end. But at least we weren't stranded in a car, right?

The next morning, everything felt better. It had finally stopped snowing. And plows! Plows had come by in the night and cleared most of the roads. We could see pavement! We packed up the car, and were home in 40 minutes. That would have taken multiple hours the day before. We zoomed home and my house was in sight when . . . we got stuck. No plows had been through the neighborhoods yet. We were really stuck. The van was just sitting on snow so high, the tires couldn't touch the ground. Oh well, I thought. At least we were within walking distance. It wasn't that big a deal. Jeff went inside to wake up my parents and get me some shoes (I had only brought flip flops because I'm an idiot.) He finally came back and I started to get the kids ready to be carried to the house. Normally I could have carried both of them, but that just wasn't going to work, so I left Jeffy in the car, while I took Katelyn inside and my dad, Jeff, and some neighbors worked to get the van to the side of the road. I had already gotten Jeffy out of his seat, so he was just wandering around the van, but I didn't think it was a problem. I asked Jeff to bring Jeffy in with him when he came.

Finally! We were home! It was nice and warm and the horrible trip was finally over! We could sit back and relax and enjoy Christmas with my family. I let out a sigh of relief. Ahh. But it was too soon. Fifteen minutes went by and still no sign of Jeff or Jeffy. I went back outside to see what was going on. I saw the van moved to its temporary parking spot on the side of the road, with Jeff, my dad, and my brother all with their hands up around the faces, peering into the van. Jeffy had locked himself inside the van with the engine running. Just when I had thought we were finally done with this nightmare of a trip, this happened. They tried to get him to unlock it, but he just couldn't get it. With tears of frustration and exhaustion running down my face, I trudged back to the house to call for help.

I wasn't quite sure what to do, so I called a locksmith and they told me to call the police. So we did. I felt like such a bad parent. "Um, yes, my two year old is locked inside our running vehicle. Help? Please?" They sent the fire department and we went back outside to wait for them. Thankfully, Jeffy didn't seem too upset. He was just climbing around, having a grand old time. He had found a bag of mints on the passenger side floor and was pretty happy. An ambulance came and they were able to get him out.

Finally, we made it home. It felt like "An Incredible Journey" or something. We stayed inside for like five days and didn't try to go anywhere. We had a nice Christmas and enjoyed spending time with my family. We hoped that in the future we'd be able to laugh about our adventure, and looking back now, I can. What a trip! We definitely made some memories with that one.

Unfortunately, I didn't take many pictures. But at least I was able to blog and record it. Wouldn't want to forget this, now would we?

The Few Pictures We Did Get.

Grandpa and Jeffy in his Christmas pjs.

Jeffy the Shepherd.

Family picture.

P.S. It's a month of birthdays for us. Jeffy turns two on the 9th. (!!) Mine is on the 29th. And my mother-in-law's in on the 5th. Hence the birthday background! Yay!


Kestrel said...

Oh Bethany, I am so sorry you had such a hard time. What a nightmare. I'm glad you guys made it all right though, yikes!!

I have been thinking about you a lot; I'm glad you updated. Do it more often or I'll have to hunt you down >:) By the way, your birthday is something cool like National Pie or Cheesecake day or something like that. So you should celebrate twice as hard!

I looooove you and miss you.

The Hatch Family said...

What an adventure! Your sweet, little family is growing:) Happy birthday!

Sam said...

Craziness! So glad you guys survived that horrible trip!!

Nate&Sam said...

That was a crazy trip to Virgina,oh my gosh. Happy New Year..