N-O-P-E! Remember how I said I would like to tell you that the second half of our Thanksgiving trip went smoother than the first? Well, I can’t. That would be a lie. If you thought Part One was a rollercoaster, then buckle up. Now, I will say that Thanksgiving itself was wonderful! I absolutely adored Brad’s extended family, and the entire day tired Vienna out – but that didn’t stop her from soaking up every second of turkey and the dog. And in true Thanksgiving fashion, we were sent away with a lot of food. Here we are, our first Thanksgiving. Our first real family vacation. Our first time out of state together.
Snow, In The Desert
I figured the drive home would be a breeze since we left later than I had expected. Vienna would sleep the whole way, and if God liked me even a little, so would Brad. I would be free to play my music and drive through the desert. Wouldn’t there be traffic? You might think so. Leaving Thanksgiving night had much better odds than leaving Friday morning. Tired and full, we piled into the car and set off. For the first two hours, everything was finally easy-peasy. It was so easy that Brad got a gust of energy and took the wheel so I could nap, and then it happened.
Every few years California gets a crazy winter storm. You guessed it, this was the year. We pulled off the road to get me a coffee, used the bathrooms, and switched positions. Once I started driving, the peaceful drive turned into a nightmare! When I first got back onto the freeway, there was no one on the road. There was, however, snow and ice. I had lived on the East Coast, so I had a pretty good sense of ice-driving. Most people around me were being extra cautious, including myself. I’m extremely tired, and it was late, but we had to get home, and then it started to snow. Here’s the one set back about a Fiat – you can’t put chains on it!
Don’t Drink And Drive – Even On Thanksgiving!
Continuing on our journey, I saw bright lights coming up the rear, fast. The car looked large, it’s in my lane, and it’s not getting over. I realized the car is actually a massive truck, with a very drunk driver at its wheel. Talk about panic! The truck was going at least 90mph and headed right towards my baby!! The only thing I thought to do, was to drive onto the shoulder and slam on my breaks, hoping he would zoom by us.
I’ve had a few close calls in my life but nothing like this one. Luckily, we didn’t skid, and as I predicted, he jumped into the far left lane. Well, he tried, but ended up missing it, and swerved back into the middle of the road. Clearly this man was very, very, drunk.
In general, drunk drivers make me mad. But on holidays, with people traveling, and now my being a mother, my hatred is a whole new level. I got my anger under control and called 911 to report him. I can’t call myself a good mother if I’m not looking out for everyone, including that ass driver. The whole ordeal woke up Brad. He was scared and furious saying “Just you wait. We’ll see him in a crash up ahead or off the road!”
Fast forward, the snow picks up, and I saw a wall of red tail lights up ahead of me. On top of that, everyone in the left lane was slowly moving around an “object” in the road. Surprise, surprise! It’s the same truck that almost rammed us a couple of miles back, and it was facing the wrong way, stopped in the middle of the lane. The driver’s door had the window rolled down, the truck was still on, but from where we were, it was hard to tell if there was a driver in the cab.
Honestly, I wanted to pull over and beat the crap out of the man. Instead, Brad insisted I pull over so he could get out and check to see if the driver was okay, and then beat the living daylights out of him. Apparently, the driver was Harry Houdini because he was nowhere to be found. The man must have run across the highway and into the open restaurant to avoid a DUI. We didn’t want to leave the truck there, so Brad tried to move it onto the shoulder. As he’s doing this, the police show up! Just what I need, explaining to the cops why he’s in a stranger’s car facing backward. Fun, right? He handled it; meanwhile, I’m on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, again.
Thanksgiving On The Road, With Nowhere To Go
One crisis averted, and another began. The snow started coming down harder, for California standards, and now we’re all at a standstill. Why? Because people had no idea how to drive in the snow. They kept driving at a fast pace, forgot about black ice, and ended up skidding across the freeway causing accidents, panic, and road closures. I sat, waited, and hope that we’re going to get moving. But, after an hour passed and we moved a grand total of 10ft, I gave up and took to Twitter.
First, I started a game of I spy, with other drivers stuck on the Cajon Pass. I found out on Twitter what was happening – they closed the pass! For those who don’t know, this section of the road is extremely dangerous to drive, and many people have committed suicide on it. I have no idea why. It’s a completely random stretch of mountainous road. Anyways, from Las Vegas to Southern California, there are only two (maybe three) ways you can go.
There aren’t many hotels around, and the few ahead were completely booked! Looked like we’d be sleeping in the car. I considered it, but it felt like a waste. The temperature was dropping, the snow was still falling, and I have a 6’3″ man snoring who will be complaining about his back before I know it. Besides, if we stayed, we’d only have to drive the rest tomorrow.
Google maps showed another route. It’s green! Off we went – with no traffic. Honestly, I had no other choice but to pray this tiny car made it down and around the back roads of the mountain. All I could think about was “she’s going to wake up in less than 6 hours and we should have been in San Diego 30 minutes ago”. With roughly 5″ of snow on the ground and nothing but darkness and 18-wheeler trucks, we stayed the new course.
The idea of being in such a tiny car next to these large trucks might scare you, but I’m used to them. See, my dad has always been a truck driver. We used to drive around together when I was little, so I know how they communicate and what they need in order to keep themselves and others safe. Here’s a tip, if you can’t see the rearview mirror(s) they cannot see you. Keep distance, give them room, but follow behind them. Why? Well, for me, they were clearing the path. It was godsent. Worried about driving near these trucks? Check out this helpful article.
If you’re a man, don’t ever complain to a woman about your “needing to pee”. She will hurt you. Brad complained once. He got out of the car to pee (literally in the middle of traffic!) What did I do? I drove away. Mind you, I was able to drive at 3 miles/hour and got about 30 ft away from him, but I was bored and irritated, and I wanted to make a point.
She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round The Moutain When She Comes
Trotting, sliding, and fumbling down the road, in the middle of nowhere, I kept a positive attitude and tried to remain calm. I’m a confident driver, it’s important to be sure of yourself when you have a little one in the car. I had reached the final turn before a one-straight-shot home! Right as happiness filled my freezing body, I saw something big, red, and flashing – the road was now closed! It had closed only a few minutes before we got there. That was it. Tears flooded my eyes, and I stepped outside to have a quick breakdown.
To give you an idea of what this all looked like, picture a road. There is another road to the far left, and one to the far right. We started out in the middle, then drove to the far right. Now, my only option was to drive to the road all the way on the far left. That was Yucca Valley. Remember, I said my parents and I are close, in part one? Well, here’s an example. We were going to be showing up unexpectedly in the dead of night – like 4 am. I called my mom at 2 am and told her I was a few hours away. She woke my dad, and they got the crib/room ready for us. I absolutely have the best parents ever.
The Thanksgiving Defeat
We weren’t making it to San Diego. My entire plan was ruined. My first trip, my first plan, my first everything, all went straight to hell. I turned the car around over a snowbank (somehow the car cleared it) started north. Once we’re clear of the snow, we hit the floods. The closer we got to the Coachella Valley, the warmer it got. So, the snow had turned into massive rivers in the middle of the road. Truthfully, I don’t know how my car survived, but I’m so grateful for it. A few more hours passed, and we arrived at my parents’ home.
I got to sleep at 4:30 a.m, only to have Vienna wake up at 6:30 am. Because we didn’t spend the “official” holiday with my parents, they were more than happy to watch her so I could get a little more sleep. If they weren’t there, I don’t know what I would have done. It’s a good thing I hated breastfeeding because if I had to physically feed her on top of everything that had happened, I would have lost my mind. Definitely another advantage of formula is the convenience and ease.
To finish my holiday adventure from the depths of hell, later Friday morning, Brad took my car and drove himself home to San Diego. He had to study for this exam. I needed help with the baby so I gladly stayed behind. On Monday, my saint of a mom drove Vienna and me back home and our trip officially ended.
Needless to say, I felt like I had starred in a rendition of National Lampoon. The whole trip was a Thanksgiving fiasco, but it was also fabulous! As tired as I was, we had the flexibility to enjoy even the worst moments. That in itself is a blessing. I think this trip made us a family. We feel like a family now, because no holiday is complete without a few arguments, extra food, bad directions, and exhaustion. I wonder what lies ahead for next year!
Happy late 🍁 Thanksgiving everyone 🍁