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Schwent column: Winter road trip miracle

by Staff

“Does that say 0 degrees?” said our son Jack, reading the temperature on the dashboard as we buckled our seatbelts and my husband, Chris started the car. It was a blustery, snowy afternoon and we were freezing, but excited because we were headed somewhere we knew it would be 70 and sunny. Somewhere magical.  Florida.  It was a very cold midwestern February here in Edwardsville and we were all in need of some vitamin D. Visions of palm trees were dancing in our heads!

The anticipation of a trip is one of the best things in life. For me, the excitement leading up to a trip is almost like the excitement my kids feel about the upcoming Christmas holiday.  And much like Christmas, travel takes a lot of planning and preparation to execute successfully.

I’ve been thinking recently about the similarities between the two.  Sometimes, despite the best and most careful planning, a wrench gets thrown in the works.  I have all of our presents purchased and wrapped, ready to go.  This week, my oldest son told me all he wants for Christmas is a flute.

This came out of left field.  While part of me wanted to tell him to just choose one of the instruments we already own (choices include a piano, a ukelele, or a trombone), listening to him paint the picture of playing a melody on stage one day with his little hands clasped under his chin had me scouring Amazon for a cheap beginner’s flute that had a possibility of arriving before Christmas.  Will it? It says so, but the last time I checked the tracking information, it still hadn’t shipped.  Maybe it will ship if I refresh my browser?

We normally leave for a trip first thing in the morning, but due to the boy scout pinewood derby, we had to wait to leave on this trip until much later in the day.  I didn’t want the kids to miss it as they had worked hard on building their cars all by themselves.  This was our first time attending a pinewood derby and I didn’t know that this is actually a race for cars built by the scouts’ dads.  It went on and on.  Finally, they declared a winning dad and we hit the road much later than I’d planned.  

The traffic outside of Nashville was terrible and, having decided we could go no further, we pulled into a Hilton Home2Suites parking lot. This parking lot was a sheet of black ice and at least two of us fell getting out of the car.  We slowly slipped across the parking lot dragging our suitcases into the hotel.  We were cold, tired, and hungry.  But we were determined to make the best of it.  

“Will we ever get to Florida?” asked one of our twins, Henry.

“Florida or bust!” I said.

We were going to have a good trip if it was the last thing we ever did.  We soldiered on through Tennessee, Georgia, and finally crossed the Florida state line.  As we hopped out of the car at the condo we’d rented in Cedar Key, the warm Florida air hit us.  We ran out onto the beach with our eyes all aglow.  We’d made it and it was magical.  Christmas is almost here and with a bit of luck, a holiday miracle will occur and a flute will be here, prominently displayed under the tree.

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