Monday, January 12, 2015
After the storm
I took this photo on our drive home from vacation in Arizona. It was New Year's Eve and we'd left bright and early, trying to beat a snowstorm that was expected to sweep across the Southwest beginning that day. We got out of Phoenix just fine, it was only cloudy there. About an hour north of Phoenix, it started snowing lightly and the snow got heavier as we drove north, approaching Flagstaff. The Bear was driving; he's a careful, confident driver, but snow really changes the game. I used to be good at driving in snow, when I lived in a very snowy part of the country, but I was also younger, and childless, then. My fear-meter is very different today.
Just south of Flagstaff, the snow was dumping down. There were many accidents in both directions - overturned cars and jackknifed tractor-trailers. We sat forty-five minutes while one accident was cleared. Our trip between Phoenix and Flagstaff should have taken two hours but it took nearly five. We finally reached Flagstaff and had a gas and bathroom stop. Back on the road, the conditions were worse for awhile as we drove east on I-40 toward New Mexico. The weather radar map on my phone showed a big clearing just west of Winslow, Arizona, and I started counting down the miles. It would be clear in Winslow. Everything would be okay in Winslow. It seemed like a matter of life and death to reach Winslow. Given all the accidents, maybe it really was.
Finally, we got there. It was cloudy in Winslow (such a fine sight to see...), but it wasn't snowing yet. Just east of Winslow, the sun started peeking through. I realized I'd been clenching my fists in my coat pockets so hard that I had angry-looking indentations from my nails in the palms of my hands. My ring had made a deep groove in my finger. I had a bag of sandwiches, baby carrots and chips on the floor behind my seat and I started passing the food around. We'd planned to stop for lunch much sooner, but now it seemed like a good idea to keep going, before the storm caught up with us again. The Bear was relieved too, I could tell, but he rarely shows his nervousness and I'm pretty thankful for that. I handed him sandwich halves and handfuls of chips to eat while he drove. I looked back at my children. In the backseat, the small Bears had been sitting quietly, knowing there was trouble, but mostly sure it would all be okay. It was okay. We made it. We were on our way home, safe and sound.