Over the years, I have had some wonderful Christmas memories, from the time Santa visited a family reunion when I was a kid, to our holiday visit to Italy as an adult, to seeing Christmas through a child’s eyes with my own daughter. However, the most memorable Christmas was the year when we almost spent the holiday in our car on Interstate 40.
My husband and I don’t live near our families. Over the years, it has worked best to spend Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas with mine. We live in Colorado and my family is in Kentucky, about 1600 miles away. We usually fly, but if the airlines are too pricey, we don’t care to drive. If you have enough time, road trips can be really fun.
About ten years ago, we were in the midst of driving across the country, when we hit frigid temperatures and an ice storm in Arkansas. If you’ve never experienced winter weather in the Southern US, it works like this:
- It usually isn’t cold enough to last long, so they just wait until it melts. Why bother the plows?
- Everyone stays home until it melts. No one expects anything different.
- Arkansas seems to have only two snow plows in the entire state, (see rule 1) ,and they are white, the color of snow!
Needless to say, we weren’t going anywhere fast. We crept into Conway, AR, which is about 40 miles West of Little Rock. The highway was closed there, at least in the eastbound direction. We stopped at every motel, only to hear the same thing, “No vacancy.” I finally asked one clerk if she knew of anywhere that had rooms for the night. Her reply,
“I think the Knights of Columbus Hall is setting up cots.”
We considered sleeping in our car, but it was below zero, so that would have been a cold night. What are poor stranded travelers to do? We turned around and headed back toward the west, about 80 miles, until we found the crappiest motel ever, but it had a room, with a bed and running water, luxuries at this point!
One of our favorite things to do on a road trip is to stop and eat in restaurants that we don’t have in our rural area. We were afraid to stop that day because of the ice, so we ended up having a gourmet dinner of Triscuits and cheese in our lovely room. This was December 23rd.
The next day the road was open, but it was slow going. We probably saw an accident happen twice every half hour. It was like bumper cars at the state fair. It could have almost been funny if it wasn’t your car and your life at stake. It took 8 hours to get from Little Rock to Memphis, normally a two hour drive. We arrived in Memphis late, but found a hotel. I could have put on ice skates and done figure 8’s in the parking lot. We walked/slid over to a nearby Wendy’s for dinner so we wouldn’t have to drive anymore. So much for trying new dining options. It was Christmas Eve.
The next day we made it back to my parent’s house in Kentucky without much trouble. The temperature was finally above freezing. We were in time for Christmas dinner and all the festivities. While I would not recommend travel in a Southern ice storm, I did learn many things from that trip.
- Any bed, no matter how worn down and threadbare, beats a cot or sleeping in your car.
- When you haven’t eaten all day, a piece of cheese or greasy fries make a five star meal.
- There is truly no place like home. After seeing what mother nature can do, we were especially grateful to be with our family for the holidays, even if we were a bit late.
Christmas really isn’t about presents, food, or decorations. For me, it is about spending time with the ones you love, and nothing makes me appreciate this more than remembering the year we almost didn’t make it. That, strangely, is my most memorable Christmas.
This post is one of many from several bloggers who are sharing today. Make sure you visit Tackling Our Debt so you can see what a nice job Sicorra has done with putting this Christmas carnival together.
To make your Christmas better, don’t forget to enter the new giveaway for $100!