Monday, December 29, 2008

christmas cards from the heartland - part 1

Getting here was an odyssey. I had never considered that a nighttime drive from North Carolina to the prairies of northern Indiana would become an epic journey. But what I had been told was normally a fairly boring 9-1/2 hour drive on interstate became for our little family a harrowing adventure.

Long story short...we left at 6pm and had smooth sailing all the way to Lexington, KY at which point the finger of fate shifted to point squarely at our little orange pontiac. At around 11:30 pm we hit a literal wall of immobile traffic in a sea of darkness and hissing icy rain. For 2 hours we sat unmoving 10 miles back (according to a passing police officer) from a nasty accident and ice-covered road. The wreck, we are told, had been cleared an hour before, but still no one was moving save the lone smokers and strollers who floated like hazy apparitions among the acres of families sitting mournfully in their frozen vehicles waiting to resume their nocturnal holiday migrations.

Unfortunately, we left our radio and defroster on. Seemed logical at the time, but we regretted it when Scott tried to turn the car on during a premature forward leap of traffic and discovered nothing but a clicking starter. Birch became inconsolable. The baby began to fret in earnest. I pondered a night sleeping bunched together in the cold like a den of testy badgers. Thankfully, Scott jumped right out and started hailing nearby cars for jumper cables (ours were, of course, in the other car at home). On his 6th try he got some from a friendly fellow and after a bit of fiddling and annoyance, we got the car started and we crept ahead...about 10 yards!

Yeah, the traffic was still jammed.When things did start to move they did so with a lurch and we surged forward quickly much to our excitment. However, immediately things skidded to a cold-blooded crawl and we inched along for another hour or so as orange signs forced 3 packed lanes to economize to 2.

After we finally got rolling at a good speed, Scott made the executive decision (because the rest of us were in various states of coma) to take I-69 from Indiananapolis to avoid icy backroads. The unkindest cut of all came as we prepared to merge onto 69 -- the home stretch, so to speak -- and found in front of us a wall of barricades and police cars with flashing blue lights....(to be continued)

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