Travel is always iffy, especially in the winter. You plan an itinerary; research and reserve hotels; and figure out if a car rental is needed. If you’re flying, you think through connecting flights; not only the amount of time needed to transfer, but potential delays (ORD in Chicago often seems to have issues, no matter what season). You check the weather for packing purposes and to anticipate contingencies. Despite advances in meteorology, long-range forecasts sometimes seem little better than a crystal ball with predicting possible/pending onslaughts of precipitation.
We planned a trip to Boston in February, keeping those things in mind. Our experiences with this trip reminded me of some of our other travel adventures. Some excursions have had moments that could have been dangerous or deadly. When they resolved favorably, they were merely inconveniences and worthy of story-telling.
Years ago while heading home after a hockey tournament in Buffalo, we drove into a blizzard in the Poconos. When we managed to exit the highway, all the signs were snow-covered (pre-GPS days). We found ourselves driving down a hill. The car slid off the road once and was pulled out by good Samaritans. After the car landed in a snowbank a second time, we abandoned it and caught a ride with a snowplow driver to a local hotel. We acquired one of the last remaining rooms.
During dinner, we learned that the hotel was sold out and overheard the family next to us saying they had no place to stay. We offered them space in our room, which is how we came to share a hotel with three previously-unknown adults and their dog. When we awakened the next morning, there were people sleeping everywhere—around the indoor pool, in hallways and in the fitness center. The hotel distributed linens, so some lucky guests had blankets. Outside, the sun shone brightly and the temperatures were almost balmy. Dan hiked to the car and dug it out with a window scraper. On the highway, we passed abandoned vehicles; a testament to the night’s impassable roads. It was a memorable April Fool’s hockey trip.
Our son’s participation in youth hockey was the source of other travel adventures; particularly during his time playing with the Eppelheim, Germany Eisbaeren. During the dark-of-night caravans on autobahns at 100 mph, we wondered about the upper speed limit for our Saturn. The safe speed appeared to be something less than that at which we were driving; as I kept looking out the window to see if parts were flying off the car. Then there was a weekend when we got evicted from a youth hostel, because the players’ parents were too raucous. Youth hockey was fun, and not just for the players.
Last year, I had the DC metro incident to recover from, with treatment for smoke inhalation after being stuck in the tunnel near L’Enfant Plaza. And in April, we had an unexpected three days in California due to plane and crew issues; a delay which curtailed our vacation in Australia. The airline provided compensatory credits which we used to fly to Boston.
Snow bookended our weekend. When we arrived on Saturday, the previous day’s accumulation was still piled on sidewalks. Sunday was clear for exploring, but by evening, we had gotten messages that our flight the next morning was cancelled. We were rescheduled–on different flights, on different days. After calls, we were put on the same flight. By morning, that flight had also been preemptively cancelled, so we were booked on flights the following day. We decided to head to the airport and found seats on another airline, going to a different DC airport (where the car was not parked). February is probably not the best month to go north, but we had great weather and fun exploring while we were there.
We are lucky to be able to travel, despite certain aspects that are more torturous than glamorous. The world has many more places to explore, so we will try to remember that curiosity trumps fear and all’s well that ends well.
© Joan S Grey, 12 Feb 2016
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