Let’s see… I’m not sure If I can make this short or interesting, but there were enough details that I felt the need to write them down.
Last Monday Jay left early in the morning, and after he left I read an e-mail from my mother that she and my dad had driven to Anchorage because my uncle being treated for cancer had caught pneumonia.
It was -40° and there was a serious question of whether this would be the last good-bye.
The next day I had to get NJ to her 6-year-old well-child check-up early, and at the doctor’s office explained to the 6- and 4-year-old the concept of cancer and the possibility this beloved uncle could die soon.
Melody at once said, “I want to see him before he dies.” And as soon as she said it I knew I felt the same way.
We left the next morning– Tuesday– as soon as we had ourselves collected and the dog dropped and the boarder’s. The daylight driving was uneventful, but as we entered twilight the weather descended and I was driving with little and no road markers (because of the fresh snow), wind, and blowing snow.
It was yucky, but we made it to town and met everyone at the hospital for a nice visit before making our way to the house we were staying at. Before we left Fairbanks I knew that the antibiotics and fluids Providence gave him had pulled my uncle back to a semblance of normal, but still felt we were to go.
The next day, Wednesday, the weather in Anchorage was nutsy: freezing rain, icy streets, wind blowing emptied garbage cans all over the residential roads.
Mom and Dad went out early to figure out what was going on with Uncle A’s release, and the children and I hung about in a structureless mush until Dad came back and brought us all with him back to the hospital for a last game of Memory before Uncle A went home. Forecast that night was for ANC to reach 65 degrees on Thursday.
Our Hostess offered to let us stay another night: the roads were still awful, and though some of them were drying out we knew that driving north we’d reach some point when they froze again, and then God help us.
Dad left on an experimental drive to pick up some things and while he was gone I checked the weather report for Friday. It looked worse than what we were already in. I voiced the opinion that if we were going to leave today or tomorrow the odds looked better for today. Dad agreed when he got back and we packed the cars, the kids, and headed out.
The younger two were with mom and dad, and Natasha is very good at being quiet when told, so I could focus my attention on seeing through the crazy, wet snow blowing down.
We were creeping along a corner when I felt my back wheels turning to catch up with the front. I remember turning into the skid and registering enough correction to slid into the snowbank nose-first rather than sideways. We were fully off the road, and the first thing I noticed was a state trooper pulling up behind us with his lights going.
I felt a little disoriented (though not from the slide– more from the mental effort of staying on the road up to this point), and Natasha had some loose stuff tumble onto her, but otherwise we were fine. The trooper said I was doing everything right; it was just too slippery on the road. He radioed for a wrecker, and it arrived relatively quickly, considering we were in the middle of nowhere…
The truck pulled my car out of the snowbank and that was all it needed. Nothing was wrong with it, and I was quite content to let Dad drive it the rest of the way to Tapper Creek. An hour before we got there we stopped at a gas station to call ahead and found they had two rooms available and one had a queen bed and two twin-sized beds. Mom reserved it and said we were on our way. We arrived 2 minutes before their scheduled closing-time of 10:00p.m.
With Natasha on the couch and Elisha in the porta-crib he’s used in ANC, everyone had a bed and slept well.
We left when it was light, with Dad still driving my car, and when the roads started drying out we traded back.
The rest of the trip was without incident, other than we passed a handful of other vehicles off the road.
Oh yes, that was the bit I left out. Moving on again from where my car was released from the snowbank, we were down to about 15MPH. Half and hour down the road we passed a truck on its side. Our adventure could have been a lot messier than it was.
While we were waiting for the wrecker Natasha watched the Trooper’s lights and observed matter-of-factly, “God told that man to stop and help us. Just like in Bible times!” “That’s because he’s the same God as was in Bible times,” I answered. “He doesn’t change!” And she was so delighted it spilled over in giggles.