06 January 2002

Gosh, it's been over 20 days since I've posted anything here! If anyone is still bothering to check for new posts, I suppose you'll be wondering where the heck I've been.

Well, mid-December was occupied with finishing out the fall semester, grading, and turning in grades. Between that and the holiday season, there was little time left for blogging. As I count it, we had about 9 meals in the week before Christmas that were either out at a restaurant or involved dinner guests at home. And this in addition to last minute shopping, preparing for a 12-day trip to visit my in-laws in Florida, and the actual holidays themselves. Thus, blogging was not a priority.

The trip to Florida wasn't bad. We drove from Philadelphia to Ft. Myers, Florida and back, setting out on Christmas afternoon, but made a number of stops both on the way and returning. On the way we stopped for a couple of nights each with Laurel's brother and his family in Fredericksburg, Virginia and in Savannah, Georgia to just relax and sightsee. Then we spent six days or so at the Shell Point retirement community with my in-laws, just outside of Ft. Myers very close to Sanibel. Two days were cold and rainy, but we did have some nice weather too--sun and in the 70s.

The return trip was a bit harrowing. We had foolishly planned on driving in one day from Florida to Wilson, North Carolina to stay with another of Laurel's brothers and his family there--in good weather it would have been about a 13-14 hour drive. Well, it had snowed and snow in the South is always a bad thing since the locals don't know how to drive in it and the highway departments lack the proper snow removal and highway treatment equipment. All was going well until we got to South Carolina when, just beyond an off-ramp for Santee, traffic came to a grinding halt due to a accident up the road a number of miles. It was already about 8:30pm, so we scrapped our plans to reach Wilson and exited I-95 by going the wrong way off and on-ramp. We found a nice hotel, but needed a snack very badly and found that everything was shut down: Denny's, Cracker Barrel, McDonald's, Burger King, even the Piggly Wiggly store. We did find a Huddle House, however ("Always Open!") and got a waffle.

The next day we set out for Wilson once again and were pleased to find the highways dry and clear. Or so we thought. We were cruising along at 70 mph when suddenly I saw that the bridge up ahead was covered in ice. Unlike many of drivers of the 30 or so vehicles we saw off the sides of the road later in the day, I know that slamming on the brakes on ice is not the ideal course of action. So I acted quickly, turned off the cruise control, loosened my grip on the steering wheel, and said a prayer (an especially earnest one given the tractor trailer right next to us). We ended up skidding across the bridge weaving in a stomach-knotting fashion but made it to the dry road on the otherside unharmed. After that everyone on the road slowed way down and the rest of the drive was a matter of peering ahead to keep an eye out for ice which was ample on every last bridge and in any place where roadside trees shadowed the road surface. Someone really needs to introduce South Carolina to the concept of putting salt on icy highways.

As I mentioned, we counted about 30 vehicles off the side of the road in the course of the rest of the drive to Wilson. This included a large camper flipped completely over on top of a car, a car and a light truck several feet off the ground nestled among the branches of the trees, and a tractor trailer turned completely around end to end with another one where it's trailer was split in two and had spilt tomatoes all over the road. Fortunately, none of the accident we saw seemed to involve any serious injuries. We did finally arrive safely in Wilson over five hours after setting out that morning on what would ordinarily have been a 2 and half hour drive--quite relieved and very tired. We returned home the next day.

Today we spent recovering, after a lovely morning eucharist with our house- and pet-sitter at her church. And here I am blogging again.