It Was A Dark And Snowy Night.......

We were taking our Christmas trip to visit Jon's family in PA early this year because we had finally been able to get tickets to see our much beloved Steeler's play the Packers on Sunday at 4:15pm. The tickets were going to be our Christmas presents to each other.

We knew the storm was coming but we figured that we'd be able to get ahead of it since it we were able to get on the road going north at 1pm on Friday(since schools closed early). It was snowing hard when we left home. The roads were instantly covered and traffic never moved above 30 miles per hour. (we'd later come to see 30 mph as super fast!)

I tried to knit to take my mind off of the slick roads and the slow moving traffic. Luckily since Jon is from snowy PA, he's great with driving in these conditions. The snow was coming down so fast and within a couple hours, there were several inches on the ground and the road were untreated. We started seeing cars on the sides of the road that had lost control. This made me nervous but Jon stayed steady and calm.

By the time the sun went down, we knew we needed to find a hotel. We had only driven about 80 miles since leaving home at 1pm. We were at a near standstill and when we did move, it was Jon's outstanding driving talents that made sure we didn't slide into the car next to us.

Most of the back ups had to do with big rigs. They couldn't make it up the slight inclines without sliding sideways. At one point I had to zig zag between 4 or 5 trucks that were stuck on a hill and not able to drive any further. I was so glad to hand driving back over to Jon after that!

Fast forward to 8pm. We had been stopped in traffic for about 2 hours and I was starting to get panicky that we were going to be stranded on the interstate all night. It's times like these that I really feel the weight of being a grown up and a parent.

My mom got on the phone calling around to nearby hotels. So many of them were already full due to all the travelers that also wanted to get off the roads. Thank goodness my mom found us a room... the only problem was it was 5 miles away. It may as well have been 1,000 miles away since we were stopped.

At 9:00 Jon made the brave decision to go onto the shoulder and try to make it to the next exit so we could travel a back road to get to our hotel.

I don't have any pictures of this phase of our adventure. I think Jon would have thrown the camera out into the snow if I had taken it out.

The back road was snow covered but at least we were moving.

Jon got us safely to the hotel around 9:30. We had been in the car for over 8 hours without getting out. We had only gone about 90 miles.... out of a 400 mile trip.

We carried the sleeping children into the hotel. Charlotte woke up for a little while and was excited about our adventure in a hotel.

I folded a comforter and put it on the floor for Evan. After I rubbed his back for a minute, he was out like a light.

I have never been so happy to be in a hotel. I had my family under one roof and we were safe and warm.

We found out the next morning that the people on the same stretch of interstate spent the night on the road and had to be rescued the next morning and taken to shelters. If Jon hadn't driven on the shoulder, we would have been with them.

When we woke up, Jon surveyed the snow that had fallen over night.

10 inches of snow had fallen over night adding up to a total of 16 inches.

I pulled a chair up to the window so the kids could look out. They have never seen so much snow. I don't remember when I've seen that much snow!

Nothing like waking up and eating animal crackers in bed.

We had the challenge of entertaining two busy kids in a hotel room all day. I made bath toys with styrofoam and plastic cups. Add in an ice bucket and you have enough for an hour of bath tub fun!

I had my knitting bag so I was happy.

Charlotte and Jon got all bundled up and headed out to dig our van out since we weren't sure when we'd be able to get back on the road.

At lunch time we hiked down the road to the Denny's. They had a limited menu and only a few people working there but we were just thankful to be eating warm food and food that wasn't granola bars or crackers.

The kids were so great. They were patient and happy the whole trip. They really helped Jon and I find the fun in our adventure and stay focused on playing with them and not stressing about being stuck in a hotel.

It was naptime after we hiked back from Denny's.

We decided to stay another night since the roads were still a mess. If we got going early enough the next morning (Sunday) then surely we'd get to PA with plenty of time to make it to the Steeler's game, right?

Jon woke me up at 4:30 the next morning, much to my dismay, and after a quick shower we all got on the road. The road looked great at first.....

Then we stopped...... for 2 hours... Turns out they closed the road up ahead because of a jack knifed big rig and then kept it closed until they could improve the road conditions.

Around 9 or 10 am, Jon realized we weren't going to make it to the Steeler's Game. I'm calling this photo, "The moment the dream died".

The kids again were patient and happy. They had their DVD player, snacks, and books.

I had my knitting... now having moved on to a second project. I was getting very tired of being in the car and starting to feel like we were never going to get there.

When we finally got moving again, we could see the problem. There was only 1 lane open and the other side was several inches of compacted snow and ice. At times the 1 lane open was also covered in chunks of unplowed snow. But we were just glad to be moving... even at a snails pace.

Click to enlarge the panoramic picture above. (I did a poor job of lining up the shot on the truck)

We finally got moving around the half way point in our trip. At that point we could look around and appreciate the gorgeous scenery. The Blue Ridge Mountains after a heavy snow. Just gorgeous.

So, to sum things up... it took us 20 hours and 2 1/2 days to make it the 400 miles to Jon's parents house... a trip that usually takes us 8 1/2 hours.

We missed the Steeler's game. Something that Jon is still working to get over.

We had a wonderful visit with Jon's family. I'll post pictures soon.

We're back home now. We didn't have any trouble on the roads on the way home thank goodness. Now we can get ready for Santa to come tonight!!!! I better go so I can bake cookies and we can get this house cleaned up.

I hope everyone has a safe and warm Christmas!