A few years ago, my son and I made a trip in February to Virginia to visit a college. It was a weekend visit complicated by the fact that our older daughter had a scholarship interview at the college she’d be attending that fall – scheduled for Saturday of the same weekend. Since his trip was from Thursday to Sunday, that meant that I had the privilege to drive to Virginia on Thursday, stay the night, drive home to PA Friday, to daughter’s college Saturday then back to Virginia for the concert being held on campus that night and home again on Sunday – lots of miles, lots of driving, lots of adventure. I’m always up for adventure… even in the winter.
As we pulled out of our driveway, the snow was falling and the windshield quickly needed cleaning, but when I sprayed my windshield nothing came out, so I assumed the wiper fluid tank was empty. We stopped at the local gas station and bought a gallon of fluid, but when we went to put it in, found the tank was full. I imagined I was crazy but we had a deadline and an 8 hour trip ahead of us, so we started out.
As we entered the PA turnpike, the roads slush and filthy, I found it wasn’t enough to rely on the snow being kicked up onto my windshield to wipe off for clear vision. I couldn’t go more than five miles without having to pull over to clean the windshield.. and how exactly did we do that when the squirters wouldn’t work? well.. my poor son had to get out of the car with the gallon of fluid we bought, open the jug an throw some fluid on the windshield for me to wipe off. Honestly, it was a scary situation because in some spots, I couldn’t pull very far off the road and there was a lot of truck traffic that day. He said his part was far harder than my part…
After just a few stops along the turnpike, I thought to myself, this is going to be a REALLY long day. After a couple of hours, we made it to Breezewood, then south in to Maryland. As soon as we crossed the border into Maryland, the weather warmed up a few degrees and … you guessed it… my squirters worked. Frozen. I had recently had my oil changed at the local shop and apparently they Topped off my fluids with water, not wiper fluid…
From that point, it was a much more pleasant ride. Eventually we made it to campus and connected him with his weekend roommate (who was a friend of ours from home!)
I found the hotel I had reserved for Thursday and Saturday nights, and settled in. The next morning, I attended a few of the parent meetings at the campus and then headed back toward PA. The state of Virginia has about a million antique stores, so I took my time and stopped at quite a few along my way home. I returned home late Friday evening with a trunk full of antiques (yikes!). Early the next morning, the girls and I headed to college again for the scholarship interview (which went well, by the way). We had lunch and headed for Virginia – except this time I thought it would make more sense to take a different route since we were starting from her college which is near the PA / West Virginia border. Thus, we travelled through the Appalachain Mountains… in February… in my stupid van (sorry, Nellie, but it’s true – you’re terrible in the snow!). I’m not sure why I thought that was a good idea. Sometimes hindsight is 20/20.
I’m convinced the state of West Virginia had declared a state of emergency because there were literally no other cars on the road for many hours as we drove through – save the snow plow which was throwing the freshly fallen powder so high in the air we could see absolutely nothing! When the road cleared, we were literally on the other side of the yellow line.
This was the actual picture my daughter took. We can’t see the snow plow, but it’s in front of the giant pile of snow blowing our way.
I drove, white knuckled, for what seemed like days, up steep roads that made my driveway look like Ohio, without seeing another soul. I didn’t want to vocalize my concerns to the girls about what would happen if the van couldn’t navigate one of the hills, or if we broke down. Then, just as I was beginning to loose hope (and REALLY had to pee), in the middle of nowhere, a convenience store!
We pulled in and ran to the bathroom, the gathered some snacks and had a brief conversation with the clerk. When we got back in the car, we all agreed that it felt like we were in a Twilight Zone episode.
Shortly after our stop, we began to descend the mountains. I had been concerned about our car making it UP the hills, but to be honest, coming DOWN the mountain was even scarier. I felt like we were in a giant luge. Still hardly another vehicle on the road, we made our way down the mountain. I was never so glad to see a “Welcome to Virginia” sign in my entire life.
This weekend, my husband and I will be traveling to Virginia Beach for a wedding. I doubt we’ll take a shortcut through the West Virginia mountains! (And somehow I don’t think he’ll want to visit the antique shops!)
Be blessed, my friends!