Sunday, February 9, 2014

In which we go on a (crazy) vacation…

I’ve mentioned it before, but my family doesn’t “vacation” all that often (for several reasons). Last year, we managed three overnight “vacations.” The first was to Bend for two nights. We were all very sick. The second was a single night in a hotel before visiting Wildlife Safari. The hotel stay…notsofun. The third was back to Bend for two nights for a swim meet “camp-out.” We hit a crazy thunder-lightening-hail storm as we went over the pass, towing our trailer.

Our vacation track record = not so impressive.

But I’ve been craving a real vacation. A relax, have tons of fun, make great memories VACATION vacation. Oh, on a tight budget with three boys and a three-year-old girl. Russ finally gave in to my desperate pleas. Thanks to a Groupon deal, we booked two nights at Great Wolf Lodge Waterpark, just about two and a half hours north of us. I thought this will be perfect: a room that sleeps six, built in entertainment that everyone will enjoy (which is almost impossible to come by), we won’t have to drive anywhere once we arrive, and it won’t even matter what the weather is like. And we’ll feel as if we’ve actually been on vacation!

Two and a half hours north of us. Did I say that? It won’t even matter what the weather is like. Oh, I should NOT have said that.

The night before we left, Russ mentioned that we might have some snow on the ground when we woke up the next morning. I dismissed the idea as unimportant. After all, we’ve already had our one stint of (unusual) crazy bad weather for the year. And a dusting of snow? Not a big deal. Indeed, there was a dusting of snow on the ground around 6:30 am. Not a big deal.

A short time later it started snowing again. Really snowing. And it did. not. stop. I’m not a news-watcher. I should have been watching the news last week. But I sure started watching Facebook that morning. Schools were still open. The buses picked up kids. WAIT! Schools were closed. Buses turned around and took kids home. Russ went to the local Les Schawb to buy chains for our new rig. While he was gone, Facebook exploded. There was a 20-50 car pile-up on the interstate just five miles from our house. Freeway closed. Then I-5 open, chains required. Oh. My. Goodness.

We knew the storm was headed north, and we wanted to get off as soon as possible to hit Portland metro before the storm did.

By the time we left the house around 10 am, we had 4 inches of snow.

We traveled back roads until around Salem to avoid the interstate freeway mess.

Salem to Portland I-5 wasn’t so bad. There was only a light dusting of snow. We were home free.

But Portland traffic was insane. Everyone and their brother’s uncle must have been driving home before the storm.

We were north of Portland. NOW we were home free.

And then brake lights just over the Washington border. And stop and go for the next couple hours as the snow dumped and turned the world white. It was 0-5 miles an hour. Our windshield wipers were freezing up. It was CRAZY.

I was so thankful for our new Suburban. It was not my intention to let the kids watch the DVD player a bunch, but it was a life-saver as a 2.5 hour drive turned into hours and hours of stressful driving conditions. I entertained myself by taking pictures of our windshield.

Then we passed the accident. Southbound I-5. Several hours after the accident occurred, it was still a mess.


Traffic lightened up a bit past the accident, and we exited to grab some food and use the restroom. The parking lots were crazy full of snow. Many places were closed or closing (we had 15 minutes at Subway until they closed). Then…our windshield wiper broke when Russ was trying to clear the ice. After trying three different gas station shops for a new wiper (no luck), Russ had to improvise with duct tape.

At least we had the road almost to ourselves as we got back on I-5. We were breezing along at 20-30 miles an hour. Southbound was a parking lot for miles and miles.

Finally, Hallelujah!! The snow ended, the roads were clear, and we made it the last 20 or so miles to Great Wolf Lodge, where our snow-covered rig drew attention from a flabbergasted onlooker. Where did you come from?

Our 2.5 hour drive took 7 hours.

We went straight to the water park, where the weather was a constant balmy 84 degrees, the water was refreshing, and the fun was non-stop. We closed down the park at 9 pm.

I started to take pictures on our second day, and my camera went dead almost immediately. So this is all I’ve got. No charger, and Russ left his phone at home (what? he is never without his phone!).

It was a totally relaxing two days, and everyone (even the parents!) had fun.

On Saturday we had a decision to make. The weather south of us had deteriorated. Freezing rain on top of a foot and a half of snow. The authorities were advising emergency travel only. Russ booked a room at a cheap hotel about 30 miles south. We started driving that afternoon, and the roads were clear until we got near the hotel and then the snow was dumping. We stopped, but the snow didn’t. We took a walk, Russ and the kids swam in the dinky hotel pool and hot tub, we snuggled in three to a bed, and all watched the Olympics until late that night.

I told Russ we should drive home the next morning instead of staying another night, despite the road conditions. Either way, I was going to need a tranquilizer gun. So we left around 10 am. The snow was high, but I-5 was fairly clear. Our drive home was uneventful, other than the treacherous stretch through Portland.

Welcome home.

The ice did a bit of damage to our willow tree. Rest in peace, tire swing.

Some of the snow had already melted.

This is the only picture of me from “vacation”:

And that’s all folks.

Area schools are closed tomorrow, but it’s back to the grindstone for my boys…


travelin' nan said...

What a great adventure you all had!

The Prudent Homemaker said...

Oh, your poor swing!


(Are you really going to make them have school tomorrow? They COULD go outside . . . . :) :) :))

It's supposed to warm up here this week after a "cold" week this last week. I've been sick in bed but now I'm dying to be OUTSIDE and working in the garden every second. . . .

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking of you all weekend! (I'm off facebook for a few weeks trying to get through some writing so I had no idea if you were okay or not...) So glad you made it still and had fun! : ) Whew.


Kellie said...

Last week when our snowstorm came through I posted a similar ruler shot and icicles as well (but yours are amazing -- I love how you caught the water dripping!), but we were safe and warm INSIDE! Bless your hearts for literally plowing through that trial! I'm glad you still had fun. : )

KellyinPA said...

Well, that was a memory maker, that's what you were after, right?;)Glad you made it home safely. I would have indeed needed a tranquilizer gun to travel in that kind of weather. My husband would gladly use it on me:P

Anonymous said...

OH MY!!! Sounds like an adventure!! I must say that I laughed about needing a tranquilizer gun in the hotel with a dinky pool. I imagine it was dinky in comparison to Great Wolf Lodge. BUT... We travel with my husband and his work and we have spent the last 5 weeks in hotels with pools. We swim in the mornings, homeschool during the day in the hotel room, take walks at lunchtime, and have family time at night when dad gets off work. It is memorable and a good arrangement. This is our 3rd week without having been home for a weekend and I still don't know which trees fell near our house. The kids were sad to have missed all that snow. I'm not! But there are times when I think I need a tranquilizer gun too!! :). ~ Jennifer

Sarah at SmallWorld said...

OH my gosh! What a trip! I am impressed that you carried on!