Monday, March 18, 2013

Adventures in Winter Driving

Last Tuesday morning started innocently enough.  The sun was shining, the wind was calm, the roads were good.  I dropped C off at daycare and headed over to get my hair cut & highlighted (I told her to make it as blonde as possible without going crazy-- I needed as much summer thinking as possible these days).  The plan was to meet my mom at the half-way point and lovingly place Charlie in her care-- where she would take him to his "Spencer Vacation" at their house.

Unfortunately, as often happens in Iowa, Mother Nature had different plans.  (Really stupid plans if you ask me)  The sun went away, the wind started howling, the snow started falling, and we found ourselves in the midst of some terrible weather.  Schools in Northwest Iowa were dismissing early and travel north and west of us was not advised.  I talked with Mom as she tearily explained that she had to turn around-- the roads were getting worse and she was very uncomfortable traveling alone with Charlie.  It was obvious that she was upset and disappointed but we had no choice other than to go with Plan B.  The only problem was that we hadn't thought to make a Plan B so we were left scrambling to come up with one.

Our Plan B ended up being this:
* Mason leave work immediately
* Hastily pack up all of our stuff that might be needed over spring break
* Toss thrown together items into the back of the pickup
* Brave the elements and travel on the travel-not-advised roads, all the way to Spencer.
* Find alternative route to Conover, WI from Spencer, IA

So, basically, we drove roughly 400 miles out of our way, on terrible roads to drop off Charlie.  As I re-read that sentence, it sounds absolutely crazy.... and it probably was.  I'd like to justify the craziness by mentioning that:
a.  Mason is an excellent driver
b.  Having two adults in the vehicle sounded like a good plan-- especially if we did run into trouble
c.  Driving a full size pickup with 4-wheel drive seemed much safer than the minivan

Honestly, the roads were okay until about the half-way point.  After that, we started seeing cars and trucks and even a few semis in the ditches.  Mase drove slow and steady the entire way.  Charlie was such a great trooper-- not even crying too much when he spilled his entire water bottle and ended up sitting in a soaked car seat for a couple hours.  Our only hiccup came while driving in Hwy 71, in the middle of nowhere, when Charlie piped up that he had to go poopy.  Mase & I glanced at each other and knew there was nowhere to stop for miles, and at the pace we were going, it might be a long wait.  We explained that he would need to hold it-- it then dawned on me that he's never been denied immediate access to go.  He looked at us like we were crazy but he settled back into his soggy car seat for a good five minutes before saying, "I really can't hold it anymore!"

So we did what any good Iowans do when traveling the boondocks:  We knocked on a farmhouse door.
Mase ended up taking C to the bathroom at a really kind woman's house, and of course C lost his interest in pooping, and was more interested in the chicken coop, the goats, the ducks, and the horses on the farm.  He also wanted to know the name of their dog, why their house smelled bad, and how they could have ducks without having a pond.  Somehow, Mason was able to answer all of his questions and corral Charlie back into the pickup without the cat (named Larry) coming along for the ride.

We puttered down the highway, eventually reaching Spencer without any other incidents.  We stopped and visited for awhile before taking off toward the cottage.  The roads were not getting any better and the two of us were exhausted (I hadn't even driven a mile) so we stopped in Minneapolis for the night.  The next morning, we packed up our things and headed over to the cottage-- an easy five hour-mostly interstate drive, that actually passed pretty quickly.

When we arrived Up North, two feet of snow, bright blue sky, and a huge yellow sun welcomed us.  Even though we were still a bit sleep deprived and white-knuckled, it suddenly all felt worth it.  We had arrived.      

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