Life in Omaha (in Scottsdale)

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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Happy New Year

Well, its good to be back.

I mean, really, really good to be back--as in back in a place where if I don't want, I don't have to travel for two or three or nine hours.

The last two weeks were both wonderful and incredibly exhausting.

We started out stranded at a Holiday Inn in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. As we got on the east side of St. Louis, we heard of a really bad storm moving through southern Indiana and Kentucky--right across our route. It was an easy decision to stop in Mt. Vernon for the night. We had nothing planned for the Thursday before Christmas--we were only three hours away, my parents would be at work anyway, why not play it safe, pull over and drive the last leg after the roads had been plowed.

We stayed for two nights.

The storm had closed I64--our route to Louisville--and I24--the southern route around. Plus, I65 was closed north of Louisville. The Maginot line could not be breached. Pinned in, we ate well, watched a lot of the Weather channel, and worked out in the Holiday Inn fitness center. Ciela seemed to have a great time.

By Christmas eve, we figured we had three options. I64 was still closed, and pictures of the national guard rescuing stranded drivers (some waiting as long as 15 hours) did not encourage us to wait it out. I24 was open, but the newscasters were seeing mph's of 5-10. I57 looked to be clear all the way to Chicago, inverting our plans, with xmas in the north (where it was dry) and new years in the frigid, snowbound south.

We gambled and took the southerly route.

Perhaps the dumbest risk, I've taken. Especially in light of a 4month old girl in the back seat.

I24 we managed fine, and got to Paducha, KY and things were looking good. It felt like we had crossed the intense band of snow and could ride up the back side with no problem. Our plan was to head up the Western KY parkway, and the first 10 miles or so were dry as a bone. I had made a brilliant deduction. The WKY pkwy plows were amazing. KY must have tons of money to spend on its highways. They probably had millions of tons of salt down just because it was december.

Then the snow started to appear on the road. A little bit. The dry passages weren't as long. The snow patches grew exponentially. Ultimately, we were creeping along rutted fields of ice. Ecstatic when we topped 30 mph. Absolutely terrified when the wheels jumped their ruts and the tail end slid around.

We were lucky. I though our detour would take about 5 hours. It took nine and a half. We missed Christmas eve at my grandmothers, but made it to Louisville in one piece without any other problems but the mental strain of a nine-hour session of intense prayer, willing a car to stay straight on ice.

We could have had it much worse. We saw car after car in the medians and ditches. We saw snowmen built on the sides of interstates. We saw written in the snow in giant letters, "THIS SUCKS!" We saw film of drivers stranded in Indiana for almost the whole day. And when we finally had reached the well-plowed lanes of I65 northbound to Louisville, we saw an 8 mile stoppage of traffic for an accident on the southbound side.

And by the end of our stay in Louisville, we saw over 140,000 dead people swamped by a giant wave. I felt stupid for complaining.


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