It was our first Thanksgiving away from home so we decided to do what everyone does...go over the river and through the woods. What happened next was nothing short of a nightmare.
It was Thanksgiving 1996. My wife, Stephanie, and I were living in Clarksburg, West Virginia. We had just moved there about eight months earlier from Pittsburgh so I could start my career in television. We were eager to head back to Stephanie's parents home with our two-month old daughter and 22-month old son. (I can't remember how I managed to get Thanksgiving off after only working there such a short time).
We packed up our Dodge Dakota Extend-Cab and hit Interstate 79. Two hours later we would be enjoying turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.
Working at a TV station, I knew there was a chance for snow or other freezing precipitation. Just my luck, we got the other freezing precipitation as in freezing rain!
We actually managed to travel awhile on I-79 before things got bad. But then they got bad fast. The road turned into a sheet of ice and cars were backed-up as far as you could see. The radio blared with warnings to stay off the roads.(A little late!)
We had a choice. Turn around and forget about Thanksgiving, or keep going and try to find another way. You probably already know what we decided to do...we turned off on some back roads hoping to escape the traffic and get to our destination. After all...we had the Dodge Dakota Extend-Cab.
Bad decision. It seems many other people had the same idea. The roads were just as icy and just as packed.
Seven hours later we finally got to our Thanksgiving destination with white-knuckles, frazzled nerves and hungry bellies. I never remember turkey tasting so good.
We generally don't have to worry about icy roads here in Eastern Carolina over Thanksgiving. Nevertheless, we haven't had a Thanksgiving road trip since 1996. We learned our lesson and had a lot to be thankful for that we even made it home that year. Nowadays we stick close to home in Eastern Carolina and think about our adventure over the icy roads and through the frozen woods in our truck that year.
Here's hoping you have a safe Thanksgiving whether you're hitting the highways or not.