Sunday, January 26, 2014

2014. THE Year of Change

A year ago I was musing on my personal epiphany. Today, I am sitting in my kitchen in Michigan having only relocated from my beloved Texas just 11 days ago. I can still count it in days and I cannot know how long that will continue. Possibly until I return to my homeland. Because I will forever be a transplant, and alien, to Michigan.

I must say that before now, I'd never really known what driving through horrid winter weather was, but, when you're faced with a deadline of having to get to where you need to be in order for the husband to return to work and the kids return to school, one must do what one must do.

And all was great. Three cars-husband with boxes of necessities for living until our stuff arrived, packed in the trunk and back seat. Also known as "eagle'. First in caravan and also first to speed off into the distance. Second in line was the van of middle son and youngest daughter. And our 3 dogs. Aptly named 'varmit van'. Bringing up the end was myself in a rented SUV along with our 3 drugged cats. Always behind and always trying to catch/keep up. Our nick name was 'kitty litter'. Nothing like driving with drugged cats who, as a side effect, are lovey and purrey and just want to be in YOUR FACE to show how much they love you… at 75mph. Nothing. Like. It.

All was well with the trip. It took for-ev-er to get out of Texas but the excitement of a new home waiting for us got us through that. We had to re-rout our progress because of some extreme weather coming down out of Canada. It was the third wave in as many days and had delayed our journey until we just couldn't wait any longer to leave. As we drove northward, I listened to the radio and found that this particular cold front had a name--an 'Arctic Vortex'. If, like me, you are from Texas you really don't have anything in your vocabulary to even come close to defining what that could possibly mean.

But now I do have a definition for what came to be known as the Polar Vortex of 2014. It's hell on wheels, nothing less.

Our trip up to this point was fairly uneventful. Drive 11 or so hours, stop at a hotel and traipse past the front desk no fewer than 6 times herding animals. Separate rooms for the separate species, sleep, then up again backtrack the critters to their vehicles, drive until you just can't drive anymore. A trip that should have taken at the very most 24 hours turned into 4 days. Because of the Polar Vortexxxxxxxxx….

Illinois almost did us in. The photo above was taken 30 miles east of Indianapolis. The highway we began traveling was closed--CLOSED--and we had to exit along with everyone else and continue on a smaller side highway that took us ever westward into the ugly face of the Vortex. Top speed was (gasp) 5mph. Yes. I am not kidding. I swear I wouldn't kid about that. Going so slowly really gives you time to do other things--like love a drugged cat that happens across the dashboard, catch up on email and social media, and take photos. Like this one:

So we slowly inched our way towards Indianapolis. The hours passed and an unlimited supply of patience was needed. The sun relinquished its weak hold on the daylight and we were met with the nastiest black ice ever formed below 32 degrees.

When I watched the 'varmint van' slow drift across both lanes of north bound traffic my already white knuckles clinched the steering wheel harder and I tried to swallow. Watching my children skid into the median covered with 2 feet of snow was not a visual or memory I wanted. I called up to 'eagle' after I came out of my very own traction-less slide and told him I couldn't drive any longer. Not after what I had just experienced and witnessed.

We stayed the night in Ft Wayne, Indiana and woke up refreshed and really ready for all of this to be over. Once we crossed the Michigan state line, the highways were clear and travel was just about the speed limit. Something my over worn self appreciated!

We drove up to our house around 3pm on Wednesday, January 8th. A bit road worn but very happy to be at our new place.