Over the ice and through the snow to my sister-in-laws house we go. We had to wait to go to Missouri until after the big blizzard that happened last week. Let me tell you, after covering the multi car pile up on Interstate-35, I was not looking forward to driving the 6 hours to St. Louis. Of course, we left late because "I can't find my 3DS, that's why," and then there was "Where are my shoes?" and "Did you remember to lock the house?"
As we started out, my hopes started to rise, as the highway was fairly clear, in one lane at least. That was before we saw the first signs of what had come before. Larry has a measurement of storm severity he calls CID or Cars In Ditch. He takes the number of days since the storm multiplied the number of cars he counts in the ditch on either side of the road and divides it by the number of miles traveled. The goal should be that the CID count should be less than .5. (Did I mention my husband is a complete nerd and has a 90 to 140 mile round trip commute every day?)
We saw pickups and hatchbacks and semis and vans. Usually a car that has obviously just slid off the road to a safe stop doesn't scare me too much, but there were multiple cars that had not just slid off the road, but had flipped over or showed signs of serious damage. All I could think of was the poor people who had been inside and hoping they were wearing their seatbelts.
We managed to make it to Des Moines in one piece, though there were times where I wasn't so sure. The worst part is that Larry's car is completely lacking a working set of "Oh crap" handles. That's probably not what they're called. Actually I looked it up, they're properly called grab handles, but my mother always called them "Oh, crap" handles. My mom was quite proper, but knew when a choice piece of language was needed for emphasis, and fearing you were going to end up in a crumpled heap was one of those times.
The road was almost entirely covered in thick ice on one side or another. Larry's philosophy was that changing lanes to the side less covered in ice was more hazardous than keeping a steady speed where you were. Considering that speed was around 25 miles per hour, getting to Des Moines took us 2 1/2 hours instead of the usual hour and a quarter. The road didn't really clear up until we got south of Cedar Rapids. Not counting the really weird GPS-directed detour we took in Hannibal, Mo., it was clear sailing after that.
GPSs are a wonder device. Although Larry and I joke that they must all have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, since any deviation from the planned itinerary seem to throw them into utter panic. I keep waiting for one of them to say "What do you think you are doing? Didn't I tell you to turn RIGHT in 400 feet? You didn't do that. Now we're going to reroute 50 miles out of the way, so you just follow the instructions I give you and think about what you did.
Ten hours later, we rolled up to our hotel, safe and sound and utterly exhausted. Between the constant cries of "how much longer" from the back seat and the long heartfelt discussion we had in the front seat as to whether "Somewhere in Time" was a better movie than "Cool Hand Luke" and whether the song we had just heard on the radio was by the Mamas and the Papas or Peter Paul and Mary, it had gone by much quicker than we had expected, barring the delays due to road conditions.
The rest of the weekend went very well. We had fun with Larry's family, had an event free drive (the CID count had gone back down to safe levels) and relaxed and enjoyed our Christmas at home.
The only place we ventured to that day was the community Christmas dinner. Larry, Daniel and I had a great time helping serve the dinner to the 100-plus people who attended. And I have a new respect for people who make a living in food service.
As we venture into 2013, here's hoping that you have a safe, fun and wonderful New Year.