In case you thought we dropped off the face of the Earth... we didn't. I thought you would all like to hear about our little, errr..........big Christmas miracle.
All last week we had been planning to surprise my parents on Saturday with an early visit to their house for Christmas. We originally had told them we wouldn't be able to make it until Christmas eve (which of course was a lie.) On Friday my parents called us a couple of times to ask about some Christmas gift information, seeing as how they were doing some last minute shopping. While I was talking to them my mom said... "I wish you guys could come this weekend, like Saturday or Sunday." To which I replied... "Well, we're still waiting on Tyler's work schedule to figure out which days looks best to leave."
Big lie--- I was packing our stuff while they were on the phone.
We were trying to get everything together Friday night to pack into the car so in the morning we could just all buckle in the car and head out. This all went relatively smoothly, the packing. The next morning, Saturday, we were right on schedule to leave to Tyler's parents. You see, before we were going to leave to Washington we had to stop by the Howard's since Heather, Trevor, Derek, and Kelly were all going to surprise Kent (Tyler's dad) with a new dog. We all wanted to be there. It was so nice that Heather and Trevor, who had hardly slept, got up to leave for Fruitland at 5:30AM! That meant they were able to get there with the surprise puppy before we had to head out to Washington.
When we were all there we opened a few gifts, made some sandwiches for the road, and soon enough... it was time to head out. We made it out of Fruitland by 1:00PM, thinking that we could make the 6 1/2 hour (in good roads) drive in more like 8 hours..... still allowing for road conditions to make that time estimate longer or shorter.
Everything was going along fine from Baker City to Pendelton. The roads were fairly clear and Tyler was able to drive safely at about 70mph. That part of the trip is always the worst for me, going through the mountains and there's nothing to see. I was pleasantly surprised to see that our trip was going pretty well, better than we had anticipated. Of course, we tried to be prepared... we had brought entertainment (an Elmo movie for Quincy to watch on the laptop in the back, some toys, snacks, a book on CD for Tyler and I to listen to and plenty of warm blankets to snuggle in.) I think all of that planning ahead paid off, at least for the first part of the trip.
After a few hours into the trip I kinda felt that urge to pee, but decided it wasn't an emergency so I held it. Finally when we got to Biggs, which is close to the Columbia River, we all decided to make a quick potty stop. By this time, it was snowing.... not hard, mind you, just enough to be slightly concerned. We were making great timing though... and we figured we'd be to my parents house by 6:00PM pacific time.
When we had all relieved ourselves at Biggs, we were ready to finish the last leg of our trip. When we got closer to The Dalles the snow was really coming down. It looked as if we were inside one of those snow globes.... small and large flakes tumbled down all around us. It made me sort of glad that I live in a day where we travel by car. I thought briefly of the pioneers who traveled by foot in treacherous weather conditions with small children, and often had to bury their young ones along the way. How lucky were we that we had a nice warm comfy car to shelter us from the snowy blizzard?
The scene before our eyes didn't give us much hope for the rest of our journey.... there was snow everywhere which didn't show sign of letting up anytime soon. I was glad that my parents didn't know we were coming... they really would have worried. When we finally reached Hood River it was if we were in the middle of an arctic storm. The wind blew at about 50+mph; the snow on the ground took flight in the wind, surrounding our car as if to swallow us whole into the belly of the storm. Everything looked hopeless. We were trapped in the full heart of a blizzard............
Luckily there were other cars on the road with us. Ever so slowly we pressed forward to our destination, mostly because we had no other choice; we couldn't turn back because there was no road to turn back to; we couldn't stop where we were and take a risk of being buried alive in a horrible storm. Tyler did such a good job of driving. He was careful and slow, but we kept getting closer to where we were headed. There were points in our car trip that I would hear him exclaim in frustration, "Ugggg, I can't even see the road." Although, I knew he was scared like I was, his outer shell was a rock. Every now and then he would rub my back and say, "It's okay, we only have 20 more miles to go." He probably did this because I looked like I was going to have a break down any second.
Could you blame me? It was horrifying! I was scared that we would be trapped there and have no way to get out.
1 hour and 20 miles later we made it to Troutdale at last! It was seriously the longest 20 miles of my life, how I didn't have a heart attack several times is beyond me. All I know is that while Tyler struggled to keep control of our car and drive to our destination I prayed very quietly in my head that Heavenly Father would watch over us and all the other cars behind and in front of us. I really prayed that He would let us make it to Troutdale before we ran out of gas. We were totally running on fumes when we pulled in the gas station.
But the fun didn't stop there....... After we got to the gas station in Troutdale, Tyler had decided that we should probably pull out the chains we had borrowed from his grandparents and put them on, so we could finish the last 20 miles to my parents house. Now, you all should know that when we got to Troutdale, the weather conditions hadn't let up. There was still a whopper of a blizzard blowing around us at 60mph.
Poor Tyler spent 45 minutes fighting the storm and the tire chains. Unfortunately, one of the chains wasn't right and after he had worked so hard in the storm to try and make it work.... we ended up taking them off. I felt HORRIBLE. His entire head was covered in snow and his body was shaking.
We drove the rest of the 20 miles very slowly..........................
What you all don't know, is that it NEVER snows like this here.... except for the last 6 years. It snowed like this once. Clark County has 4 snow ploughs..................for the ENTIRE county, which means that most of the roads are neglected, which of course, is why nobody leaves their houses until it all melts. It's total chaos here.
The end of this story gets better.
10 hours, 45 minutes spent putting chains on our tires that we only used for 1 mile, 2 hours spent driving 30 miles..............................we finally arrived at my parents house.
And the best part of our surprise to my family is that when we finally walked through their doors to say "Surprise!" They weren't even home! They were at the Pickett's house. I had to call my mom's phone, which Spencer (my brother) answered and tell him that we were here so they needed to come home.
Needless to say, they were quite surprised and glad that we had made our trip safely.
This was our Christmas miracle this year!