Monday morning we let the kids sleep as late as they wanted. We were in no hurry to be on the road. We were approximately 2.5 hours away from home and figured that the longer we waited to get started the better off the road conditions ahead of us would be. So we leisurly showered, ate breakfast in the hotel lobby, and packed up our stuff for (we hoped) the last time.
It was close to 9:30 when we finally hit the road, and the GPS estimated we would be home around noon. Preparing ourselves for the worst, Matt and I estimated that we’d actually make it home between 1-1:30. At first the drive was completely uneventful. There was almost no snow on the ground where we were at so it was hard for our minds to process why we’d had to stop for the night.
We made great progress for over an hour. Then we passed the mile marker which signified where the interstate had been closed the night before and it was immediately apparent why they’d closed the interstate. We were forced to slow considerably due to ice and snow packed on the road. Along the side of the road we saw cars buried nose deep in the snow, and semis turned on their side. Knowing that we’d been right to predict that it would take us longer than expected to get home, we pulled over at the next rest area and took one quick restroom break and let the kids run around one last time. We were hoping that by doing so we could make it the rest of the way home without stopping.
Back on the road progress was slow. The kids knew how close we were to home, and it was the third time in four days that they were cooped up in the car so I fully expected them to be cranky, whiney, and overall all out of sorts. But amazingly, they were better behaved on Monday than they had been the entire weekend. Brendan had had a small meltdown Sunday night when he realized he would have to miss a second day of school, but since school had been called off for a snow day early in the hours of Monday morning he was doing much better. Apparently having everyone miss school was less traumatic than just having him miss.
So while Matt concentrated on getting through the crappy road conditions, and I stressed about the incredible amount of wrecked vehicles in the ditch, the kids watched movies, played video games, and colored to their hearts content. We didn’t mind the slow conditions too much at first. Yes we were moving slower than the speed limit, but since we were still able to go about 30-40 MPH it felt like we were making progress. At leat until we were under 100 miles from home…
At that point, traffic stopped moving. Completely. We did nothing more than crawl along the interstate for more than an hour. And as far as we could tell the only thing slowing us down was people rubbernecking at all of the accidents from the night before. The stress level in the front seat increased about a million times but there was nothing we could do but sit back and wait for traffic to clear.
Finally we got past the last major city before our own and traffic began to clear. We were 30-40 minutes away from our house when my cell phone rang. Looking at the caller ID I saw it was the elementary school which I thought was weird because school had been cancelled due to the inclement weather. But I picked up anyway and it was the secretary. She was calling with a message from my next door neighbor. Apparently our smoke alarms were blaring and had been for a while. He was concerned and trying to reach us.
I hung up the phone and tried not to panic. I figured if the house were actually on fire he’d have called the fire department directly. Knowing my parents were already home and 2 minutes from my house I urgently called them and told them to check the situation out. Meanwhile my neighbor, in continued attempts to reach us, had located my email address and sent me an email as well. Still on the phone trying to sort things out I shot him off a quick email and let him know someone would be arriving at our house soon.
My parents found everything perfectly fine when they got to the house. There was that they could determine why the alarms were blaring. About the time they got through examining the house and getting the alarm shut off we finally arrived home. We were thankful that it had been a false alarm, and that our neighbor had been so dilligent in attempting to reach us. We were even more thankful to be done with our roadtrip.
After unloading the car and feeding the kids a late lunch, we put them all down for naps (believe it or not they asked for them. We weren’t going to nap them since they’d spent so much time idle in the car). Matt and I then flopped down into our recliners and spent the rest of the day attempting to recouperate. It will definately be a few months before I’ll consider going on any sort of roadtrip with my children again.