I’m from Massachusetts, I don’t use the term “snow storm” lightly. This past February I travelled 18 hours driving through snow storms from Massachusetts to North Carolina. It was probably the most stressful 24 hours of my life, because there were moments when I was fairly sure I would die when a tractor trailers going 70mph on an inch of packed down snow passed us in the left lane, while the lanes had shrunk from snow banks by at least a foot on either side.
There were 2 or 3 times when I thought we would be stuck indefinitely, and miss our cruise out of Tampa Florida. I woke up on Wednesday at around 9am, we left Massachusetts at 8pm on that Wednesday, and did not sleep until 9pm Thursday night in Savannah. We were on the verge of tripping from lack of sleep by the time we finished our delicious seafood meal on the river… unless it was all a hallucination at that point?
These pictures are from North Carolina!
I’m not exaggerating when I rate this as the most stressed out 24 hours of my life. I do have a pretty laid back life in general, and perhaps you are jealous that this was the pinnacle of my worry. But I don’t know that I can convey fully the feelings I had that $1200 may go to waste if we missed the ship. Or that a vacation I’d been looking forward to for 5 months would come crashing down around me, forcing me to wait for the snow to melt in North Carolina. This was a long cold winter, and we hoped to feel some relief by the time we hit Virginia. Instead, we brought a terrible little piece of New England to the south. Yee-haw!
And I’m not sure if you have noticed, but truck drivers are insane. We stopped counting the number of tractor trailers stuck on the side of the road, flipped on their side, and down in the ditches. I tried not to think about it, but imminent death was not far from my mind. But we had a cruise to catch, let’s get our priorities in order!
At one point traffic in the hills of western North Carolina came to a halt, but a stroke of luck placed us just feet before an exit. We decided to take the exit, and wriggle our way through some backroads, since there was no indication that the traffic would begin moving again… until after the cruise ship left.
So we found a nice cut off road and thought (how naive) that perhaps the backroads would be better… perhaps the delirium was already setting in; I don’t think North Carolina has a single plow. Scratch that, I remember almost being run off the road by a team of plowers on the highway. So we hopped onto the back road that would lead to a state highway. Did I say backroad? I meant snow covered field that apparently had a road somewhere in it. Kudos to my sister’s boyfriend for properly navigating the tundra.
The Carolinians were having a ball! They smiled and waved as we passed, they sledded off their roofs, and spun out in their trucks. They stood in the road with their dogs and toddlers as we approached, and rage filled us knowing full well we would never get the car going again if we had to stop. By the way, I cannot express deeply enough my love for chrysler mini-vans after this trip. We borrowed my mom’s to take the trip, and it may have saved our lives, and saved our vacation. Seriously.
Alright, finally, the highway should be just ahead. Oh right, we are in North Carolina, and this is what they call a highway.
But we counted our blessings; at least we could see where the road was now. Again, Matt expertly navigated the many turns and hills which I cannot believe we made it up, over, down and around.
When the snow finally cleared, it began melting pretty quick. We decided this was a good time to stop for some gas and snacks while the traffic and snow cleared up a bit on the highway. Wonderful woman behind the counter at the store; she was quite concerned for us. We let her know that it would be smooth sailing from here on out: we are from Massachusetts after all. Everyone else was in full crisis mode, banding together for the apocalypse. “Yea we just drove our four wheelers to the gas station cuz, damn, how else were we gonna get here?” Good point… although I suppose you could have just… you know, stayed home. Hey I’d probably be excited too under the circumstances.
But its crazy how something so stressful can be such a fun adventure in hindsight. I know I’ll look back at that trip forever with nostalgic feelings, reminiscent of the multiple near death experiences. And I vowed to make the trip home the last time I ever drive through the night on a road trip. It’s not worth it. It’s dangerous, and terribly exhausting.
But I can say with certainly that when we finally got down to Florida and saw the palm trees, and when we boarded that cruise ship to take us to the Caribbean… I don’t think I have ever been more relieved and relaxed. It’s like when you’re so hungry that good food tastes that much better. It was my first cruise, and a phenomenally good time. I savored every minute, and reminded myself daily to enjoy the moment. I think that helped me retain the feelings I got from the paradise, made so much more potent by the extreme winter weather that followed us all the way to the Carolinas.