I was never big on road trips. Mostly because anytime I went on one, I was always the one that everybody looked to to do all the driving. That sort of changed as I got older, but for the most part I tend to steer clear of them. One horrible road trip taken just over a decade ago is the reason why.
Back in 2011, for some strange reason, my sister suddenly decided that she wanted to go to Southern Arkansas University. With all the colleges we have in California, she chose that school and to this day I still don’t get why. I’m sure it had something to do with affordability. But that’s where she wanted to go. For even stranger reasons my mom decided that we should drive her there. I told her it was a bad idea for a couple of reasons: it was pointless as it wasn’t like she had anything to move. Flying made more sense and anything she needed to get could be bought there.
The second and main reason was the most obvious: it was the middle of January. We were chillin’ in California with a relatively mild winter, but knew things might be worse in the part of the country we were heading to. I lost that argument of course and a week or so later I found myself in the car with my sister, mom and grandpa on the road to Magnolia, Arkansas.
The trip was hell. As we got into the Dallas area of Texas, an unexpected winter storm hit the area with freezing temps and snow. We kept going until we got right outside of someplace called Mt. Pleasant, Texas. The roads were covered in snow and ice and my mom was freaking out. Pulling off to the side of the highway to figure things out, we managed to get the front of the car stuck in a snowdrift right off an exit. Twenty minutes of us pushing and we managed to free the car and pull into a closed gas station. Worse yet, the car’s heater decided to stop working. So we sat, freezing in the car for about four hours until the gas station owner — who was extremely nice and understanding of our situation — let us in so we could warm up. He gave us coffee and food. He warned us away from continuing on as things were worse the farther north you went. So we headed back home to California.
Things weren’t bad until the long car ride started to affect my grandfather, who was in his early 70s at the time. We learned on that trip that he was in the early stages of dementia: at a rest stop in New Mexico, he got confused and wandered off into the night. After 45 minutes of frantic searching I found him in the dark, standing shivering next to an idling semi truck that was parked nearby to keep warm. We eventually made it back to California, battered from a terrible trip. I didn’t leave the state — not even to go to Las Vegas — for years after that.
That’s my ordeal. Now we want to hear about yours. Tell us in the comments your road trip horror stories. It could be everything from a destination that didn’t turn out how you expected to something that happened while you were on the road. Let us know. We’re here for support.