People have been asking to hear the story of my car entrapment this past Tuesday, so I thought instead of re-telling it over and over... I'd just put it all down in the blog. It's an extremely LONG story, so I will make it bearable by breaking it up into several chapters. Plus, I can leave you in suspense... my favorite part of story-telling that can only happen in print.
Tuesday, January 28th, 2014... 8:15am
John Michael and I loaded up the car for our eye appointments. Mine was at 8:30, his at 8:45. It was a normal morning as we had our eyes checked - but alas, we both had to have our eyes dilated. Normally, I would hate this only because of the ensuing headache that would follow. As we put our coats on to leave, I looked outside and saw that it was snowing. Not being much of a snow freaker-outer, I said, "Oh look John Michael, it's snowing. Let's go and get you to school." The weather forecast had only called for a "light dusting" in our part of Alabama, so I thought it would be a little snow, and that if any accumulated, we'd make a tiny snowman in the yard that evening when we got home. Plus, I had to get him to school because I was scheduled to speak at Hoover High School that morning about the decisions, choices and options faced with teen pregnancy.
I dropped JM at school and casually asked if they thought they would close early that day. There was no sense of panic or anything as I was told that they were just going to watch it and see what it did. I agreed, as that is what I would have to do for my office as well. I open and close our office by what Shelby County does, and I had not seen where any schools or counties were announcing closures. So, I left and headed out to Hoover. As I typed "Hoover High School" into my Google Maps app, it became very apparent to me that I couldn't see anything on my phone. At the time I thought, "That's okay, Google Maps talks to me, so I'll be fine."
I headed down I-459 to Hoover, and my phone rang. It was the office informing me that they were canceling our prenatal/parenting class for the night. They also wanted to know if we were going to close early, but I said we'd go by Shelby County. If they hadn't called off school yet, we would stay open as well. That was mistake #1, although I didn't know it at the time. Then I got a text from two other employees, but couldn't read them because my eyes were still dilated. I mean, no, I couldn't read them because I don't read texts while I'm driving. Moving on...
I called my mom and asked her to look up the school closures for me to see if Shelby County had announced yet. She said no, that Jefferson County was the only one on the list so far. Wait, Jefferson County? Would that include Hoover High School? Or does Hoover High School fall under City of Hoover announcements? Not being from that area, I continued to the school. I arrived at 10:30, as the doors swung open and students ran out of the building to their cars. I quickly called my co-leader to see what I needed to do - yep, Hoover had just let out, so we'd have to reschedule.
I was now stuck in school traffic, in addition to the fact that the snow was now coming down really quickly. Again, I thought that it would probably accumulate in the grass, but not on the roadways. By this point, my phone no longer worked. I kept trying to call the office to tell them to close and go home, but I couldn't get them. I texted a few people, but no response. Traffic wasn't moving, and I wasn't in an area where I was familiar with shortcuts or back roads. When my phone rang and it was JM's school calling to say that they were closing at 12:30, I thought there still might be a chance of me getting there on time. Plus, there might be an opening in the phone lines for me to try the office again. I did and got through. I told them to close and go home, praying that they would make it home quickly.
Called my husband to go pick up JM. I had moved 10 feet and there were accidents all around me. Hwy 150 ahead looked like a parking lot, so I started looking on Google Maps to see if there was a side road or cut through. Hwy 150 was completely RED on the map. I-459 posted red in some places, but every time I refreshed it, I saw a new accident pop up. I waited.
Texted Michael and realized he wasn't going to make it out from downtown either. I couldn't call the school because my phone wasn't working again, so I texted a friend who lives close to the school to see if she and her husband could pick JM up. Her husband went to get JM and I promised that one of us would just come to their house to get him when we could get through the mess.
I eventually made it to Hwy 150. As I turned right, thinking I could go down Valleydale or 119 to get home, I was horrified to find out that 150 was closed in that direction due to ice. I tried to u-turn but I had to wait on a turn lane to move. At some point here one man started yelling at me and blaming ME for holding up the traffic. I'm pretty sure I blacked out at this point because I screamed at him and drove through a bunch of parked cars to a gas station. Looking back now, I realize this was a good thing because I only had a quarter of a tank of gas. So, I filled up the car and went inside to use the bathroom. Met an older gentleman in the bathroom line who was headed to Leeds as well. He said that 459 wasn't bad. So, after using the restroom and getting back into the car, I started following two pickup trucks (a man and another woman) to 459.
I headed down 459 at a safe pace and thought to myself, "I can make it now." I had no idea what was waiting for me...
Tune in tomorrow for Snowpocolypse - Chapter Two.
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