We had in interesting drive home from AZ last week…
THURSDAY, DEC. 30:
9:00 a.m. ~ The kids vote to take the drive to IL straight through (without stopping at hotels) so we can stay as long as possible at Nana and Papa’s. We decide to leave late afternoon instead of now to arrive home by Friday late evening.
2:30 p.m. ~ The UPS truck stops at Nana’s house. The package sits in the foyer unopened…it was probably another gift for Rex and Emily (the newlyweds).
3:00 p.m ~ Weather.com shows a storm finishing it’s way through the Northern AZ mountains. We hear rumors that some roads are closed, but efforts to receive confirmations or info on re-openings failed.
3:30 p.m ~ My fearless husband decides to see for himself if roads are closed…hoping that because the storm had mostly passed, the roads would be open by the time we reach them before dark. We jump in the van.
3:32 p.m. ~ Nana rushes out to the van after realizing the newly arrived package had come from Aunt Pam…the maker of the Matching Family Nightgowns that EVERY girl in her extended family covets. Pam had called on Christmas Day (I think) to get the Smith girls’ measurements and not only worked endless holiday hours, but also overnighted (I assume) the finished projects to us, hoping they would arrive before we left…and they did!
4:30 p.m. ~ Driving through the first mountainous ranges in Northern AZ, the sun is shining and the roads are clear (but noticeably empty).
5:00 p.m. ~ We make it easily to Payson, AZ…where the road closures had been reported.
5:05 p.m. ~ The road heading out of Payson is closed. We wait in a long line of cars…until we hear that police are only allowing cars with chains or 4WD through..possibly for another day or two. Our trusty van has neither.
5:25 p.m. ~ We turn around. We make a few comments about how AZ could use a more timely snow plowing system because the skies are clear, but the roads in this town are a mess…causing unnecessary delays.
5:27 p.m. ~ Going about 30 mph, we hit a patch of black ice, we swerve to the left and to the right, Brent says, “Hold On” and our swerving turns into a full 360. The unplowed slush in the middle of the 4-lane road stops us. Thankfully no other cars were near at the moment. We all breathe a sigh of relief…and I think a prayer of gratitude that AZ is not as snow-plow savvy as IL (the black ice would’ve been there without the heavy slush in the middle) and that wise police officers don’t let vehicles like ours commence traveling on dangerous roads.
5:30 p.m. ~ Allison says, “That circle gave me a headache!” But, the kids are excited that their hope of staying longer at Nana and Papa’s will come true after all…or maybe not.
5:40 p.m. ~ We discover why the roads coming in to Payson looked so empty…the road going back south is closed as well.
6:00 p.m. ~ We check into a hotel…all wishing we were still at Nana’s.
6:15 p.m. ~ The girls all quickly slip into their new cotton-candy-pink nightgowns…and the Princess Party begins (the boys watched football or something)!
10:00 p.m. ~ Kirsti says, “Mom, you’re the queen and we’re the three princesses,” as me and my three girls snuggle up close and turn out the lights. I lay in bed wondering if Aunt Pam (and her elf helpers…you know who you are) had any idea how useful their handiwork would be for us on the very first night. Their extreme effort and thoughtfulness turned our extreme situation into a memorable miracle. We can’t thank you enough for your generosity and timeliness!!
FRIDAY, DEC. 31
10:00 a.m. ~ Brent takes the van for an alignment check (after our swirling adventure) and returns to the hotel with chains for our tires.
11:00 a.m. ~ Brent drives a homeless couple to the grocery store and buys them food for a few days.
12:00 p.m. ~ The drive home continues. I admire the smile on Brent’s face as he puts the chains on our tires. He truly loves adventure…and the unknown.
2:00 p.m. ~ The roads through the mountains of AZ are horrible…very unplowed and unsafe for the average vehicle. But with chains, we make it through without a single slip. My brother calls and thinks we have taken a detour to Disneyland because the chains sound like multiple ascending roller coasters. I tell him the chains’ vibrations make us feel like we’re on a roller coaster.
3:00 p.m. ~ Once we hit New Mexico, the roads were clear and we didn’t see a single drop of rain or snow the rest of the trip. We think it’s ironic that our worst driving weather in both directions was only in AZ. Something my parents (in the good ol’ Midwest) will be reminding us for years to come, I’m sure.
SATURDAY, JAN. 1
12:00 a.m. ~ We count down to midnight with those who are awake in the car. But in reality, we had technically missed a true countdown because we happened to cross time zones at 11:30 p.m., thus changing our clocks to 12:30 a.m. in a time zone that had already welcomed the New Year. Thanks for the memories Oklahoma!
3:00 p.m. ~ Home Sweet Home!