July 3, 2012

An Accidental Vacation: Part 1, The Derecho.

So you guys.  This weekend.  So many things happened it's going to take awhile for me to unpack it all.  We were supposed to go to the Washington DC area to visit our friends... you can see where this is going.

Wait, no.  It's not going there at all.  Because before we even got there this happened:

Yeah.  That happened.

We're all ok. 

But let me rewind and start at the beginning.

The plan was for Matt to take a half day on Friday, drive to Pittsburgh at naptime, then on to DC for the rest of the weekend.  Not an epic ordeal  just a relaxing trip hanging out at our friends new house... And then...

Matt got stuck at work late on Thurs night. And also Friday afternoon.  Which meant that I packed up EVERYTHING with zero help with the kids/packing/organizing/logistics.  But dammit I got everyone ready to go the second Matt finally walked in the door on Friday.  Because if we missed traveling at nap time we missed going to Pittsburgh.  And by God we were not going to miss out on a second of this fun family adventure.  Not with the last few weeks we've had....

I only mention all of this because the Matt working late situation meant that I had to cut some corners to get us ready in time.  Corners like not going grocery shopping for travel food.   Also you have to understand the mindset we were in to understand our subsequent insanity as far as sound decision making goes....

We did make it to Pitt in time to hang with Matt's brother and sister in law for dinner.  Had a lovely time.  But we knew that a line of storms were coming so we left a bit early in an attempt to beat the weather.  We figured that cars travel faster than storms so we'd be out in front of all of it.

Yeah.  That happened.
The storm rolling into Pittsburgh right as we were leaving.
But Derechos don't roll that way.

Derechos travel really fucking fast and by the time you realize how bad the storm is your car is smashed to bits in a ditch in the middle of the turnpike like so:

Yeah.  That happened.

Again, everyone is ok.

So yeah.  The derecho hit while we were passing a truck at the top of a hill.  The choices were to hit the breaks and hydroplane, speed up and hydroplane, or continue at the same speed and... hydroplane.  Matt knew we were screwed for about 20 full seconds before we actually went off the road and used that time to figure out how to get us away from the truck.  We spun completely around and hit the ditch in the median with enough force to deploy the airbags and give us bruises from the seat belts / car seats.

Yeah.  That happened.
Again, everyone is ok.

But it could have been a very different story.  I can't tell you how lucky we were.  The median was wide enough that we didn't end up in oncoming traffic.  We spun at a median and not on a bridge.  We spun away from the truck and not into it.   

We all walked away.

At first we didn't know what to do.  The 911 operator told Matt to go find a mile marker so that they would know where we were.  I put that one directly in the NFW column - I was not about to let the father of my children wander around the side of the highway in rain so hard we couldn't see two feet in front of us thankyouverymuch.  Luckily someone passing saw us and phoned it in so we didn't have to wait long for help.  I'm so, so thankful for whoever that was.

Then the logistical nightmare began.  Two kids in car seats.  Undrivable car.  Pouring rain.  A car load of nonsense for a vacation.  Middle of nowhere PA.  Middle of the night.  All of those things.

But we were all ok.

The girl was very upset.  But - as she'll proudly tell you - she did not cry.  The boy did.  But he stopped because according to her she wasn't crying and she told him to be brave.  She was mostly scared because her animals flew off her lap and she couldn't reach them.

Yeah.  That happened.
In the back of the tow truck  - "I was scared because and accident came to the Maxx car but I'm happy because Main Kitty is ok"
Even her kitties were ok.

I mapped where we were from the crash to home and it was 3 hours 22 minutes.  To our friends' house 3 hours and 20 minutes.  We were directly in the center of our trip.  And after the ordeal trying to get even that far neither of us wanted to turn back in defeat.   So from the back of the tow truck on the side of the highway I sent my friend this text:

"May still drive rental to DC tomorrow.  Fuck logic."

Especially since we were all ok.

The tow truck drove us to the most fleabag of fleabag motels.  Seriously it was infested with ants.  And every time I saw one I internally FREAKED OUT BECAUSE IF THERE'S ANTS THERE'S PROBABLY BIGGER BUGS AND RATS AND GERMS AND HOLY CRAP THERE'S NO WAY OUT OF HERE WITHOUT A CAR AND WE'RE GOING TO BE STUCK HERE FOREVER.  But instead I calmly said "Oh look another ant wandered in.  Don't worry.  Mommy will get rid of it."

But we were all ok.

Once we were in the hotel I called the insurance adjuster and it became pretty apparent that there had been tons of other crashes that night.  Between that and the holiday it was clear that we needed to be in PA if we wanted our car looked at any time soon.  So we were stuck until Monday.  Also getting a rental was going to be an issue....

But we were all ok.

The kids were such troopers.  We had just been through a huge ordeal.  They were hungry and over tired and everything was generally a mess.  And yet:

Yeah.  That happened.
No meltdowns.  No kid related crises or huge fits because all we had to eat was some crap from the bottom of the diaper bag.  Just dealing with it and being brave.  I can't tell you how proud of them I am.

Yeah.  That happened.
And they were perfectly ok.

The next morning there was a whole lot of nonsense trying to get a rental car.  Cabs and lines and begging.  All while dealing with two kids and barely any food in a hotel so dirty I didn't want to let them off of the bed:

Somerset, PA
It was so dirty and we were so stuck.
But we were all ok.

Finally we had a car.  And in time for the 11 check out!  Things were looking up.  We just had to get the kids some food and we would be on our way to funtimes.  And then we got this text from DC:

"Still no power here.  What are you up to?"

Wait....  What?

To be continued...
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