Dec 24 2009
First, I want to thank all of you who have been thinking of us and praying for us on our journey. It’s been so much fun today to be getting tweets and comments while on the road. The tangle of cords in the car gets complicated sometimes, but it’s nice to be able to get information en route.
Hubby and I both prayed for the same thing last night: thanks for getting safely to a stopping poing, and a prayer for a hole in the weather that we could sneak through to continue our journey.
If the hole hadn’t been there, we would have stayed in the Dells. We may be adventurous, but we’re not risk-takers. Thus, we were a little apprehensive when we awoke this morning. (Actually, I had heard sleet on the window at 2:30 a.m. and checked the radar and road reports, likewise at 5:00.) My husband, however, slept well all night and didn’t know what would greet him when he looked out the window.
It wasn’t too bad. Although the car did have a layer of ice on it, by the time morning came it was 33 degrees and was raining lightly. We took our time at breakfast, packed up, and rolled out at 8:30 a.m. The best news I had all morning was talking to the desk clerk who had driven in from the north and said the Interstate was clear. The roads in town were still snowy, but the Interstate was just wet.
All in all, it was a gloomy day to be driving, and we drove in rain, sometimes heavy, for all but about 30 minutes of the 9.5 car hours. Northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin had ice-covered trees; that combined with the snow made it look like something out of Narnia.
We left Wisconsin Dells at 8:30 a.m. and had lunch at McDonald’s at 11 in central Illinois; trying to assemble a picnic in pouring rain didn’t really appeal to me. We got through St. Louis and the kids were excited to drive past the Gateway Arch even though it was raining. (They were even more excited to learn that Dad and I had been up in the Arch before. We’ll return to St. Louis and the Lincoln sites in Illinois on another trip.)
Just south of St. Louis in the small town of Pevely, we stopped for supper at 4:00, hoping to find a restaurant that hadn’t closed early for the holiday. Subway and Burger King were already closed, but guess what was open? Yes, McDonald’s. So amidst warnings of “don’t count on eating at the arches again on this trip,” we did our second McDonald’s stop of the day. The manager was very nice, and brought out a bag of cookies and toys for the kids to open once she learned we’d been on the road all day. And on the way out, a man stopped to talk to my husband. He was formerly from Minnesota and our accents had given us away.
We continued on to Cape Girardeau, now in the dark and quite heavy rain. We checked into our hotel and changed clothes and then headed out to church. We had called for service times earlier in the day and learned that it was a rural church we planned to attend. The pastor asked if we needed directions, and then suggested Mapquest. He had good reason to make that suggestion, as the church was several miles from town on winding roads. Our trusty GPS guided us there in the rain, and we attended a beautiful children’s Christmas Eve service. With only four children in the program, it was not large or showy, but it was beautifully done and we sang all of our favorite Christmas hymns. Just like home, the kids were excited for the candy bags that were given to all of the children at the end of the service.
Back at the hotel, we had missed their milk-and-cookies hour for Christmas Eve, but the staff brought a plate to our room for us. Now the children are asleep, with visions of sugarplums in their heads, and Santa has just one more cookie to eat before performing his duties. It’s amazing how he can find children even if they’re in unplanned hotel rooms for Christmas.
We’re hoping to have less rain tomorrow so that we can actually enjoy the drive a little more. The kids are hanging in there; they got a little squirrely for a while but playing some Alabama put them back on track. One of the worst things about the rain today was the additional noise it made; we had to have the kids shout from the back for us to hear them in the front as the rain was hitting the windshield.
On a side note, something fun that’s coming of the trip that was unplanned is the number of state capitals we’re going through. Today was Madison and Springfield. Tomorrow will be either Little Rock or Jackson and Baton Rouge. By the time we get home, we have the possibility of adding Austin, Oklahoma City, Topeka, and Des Moines as well. That is, unless hubby’s comment about having to come home through Colorado and Utah comes true. Here’s hoping we have better weather for the return drive.
Thanks to all who are following us on our trip. We’ll keep you posted as to how things are going. Our journeys are always interesting in some way or another.
I’m also going to give shout-outs to some people who made our trip-planning and re-planning easier. Meteorologist Mitch Keegan at KEYC in Mankato, MN, has social networking figured out. He’s given me advice on twitter and via his daily live chat and helped us think the possibility of an eastern detour might just work. Theresa Jorgensen’s site, Six Suitcase Travel, has been invaluable as I book and rebook hotel rooms. Instead of combing through dozens of hotel sites for each city, only to find that none have a room large enough for us, I go right to Six Suitcase Travel and get the short-list of hotels that will work for us. If you have a family of five or more, you should be using Theresa’s site every time you travel.
Where will we end up tomorrow? We don’t really know. Our little one just keeps asking when we’re going to be in Texas. Soon, sweetie, soon, we hope.
A blessed Christmas to you all.