By Bruce Stambaugh
This winter’s wicked weather altered many well-laid plans, especially for travelers. My wife and I were no exception.
We delayed our trip south by a day due to a winter storm in the Appalachian Mountains. The extreme cold air followed us all the way to northern Florida.
As we readied to return home at vacation’s end, yet another major winter storm was chugging up the Ohio Valley. We weighed our options about our return trip. It would have been delightful to remain in place. But we needed to return home. It was time.
South Carolina and North Carolina were still recovering from one-two punches of unusually extreme wintry weather that downed thousands of trees and caused massive power outages. We didn’t want to risk being stranded there either.
Fortunately, we had an attractive option that would take us well out of the way home. We decided to visit our grandchildren in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, a year-round scenic place. It was a big sacrifice, I know.
We hadn’t seen our grandkids since Christmas. It was only logical that we should avoid the storm by detouring to Harrisonburg. It didn’t quite turn out that way.
Oh, we had a lovely two-day drive to their hillside home near the university where their daddy, our son-in-law, works. But the storm detoured, too. The morning after we arrived we awakened to three inches of snow overtop a quarter inch of ice.
It snowed all day, doubling the snowy accumulation. Of course, schools were closed, giving us bonus time with our three grandchildren, Evan, Davis and Maren. It was a vacation within a vacation, like finding a diamond ring in a box of Cracker Jacks.
The backyard where our daughter and her family live is perfect for sled riding. The day we left Ohio a month earlier, it was 15 degrees below zero. So I had plenty of warm clothes to wear, including the pair of waterproof shoes I wore while walking on the beach.
We bundled up, grabbed the day glow orange toboggans, and went out into it. We had a riot. Little Maren, the daring four year-old, really isn’t so little anymore. She laid supine in one of the sleds and zipped down the gentle slope and slid right into the neighbor’s backyard.
The boys whooped, and Maren immediately recognized her amazing accomplishment. She jumped up and screeched with glee, “That was just like a rocket booster.”
That’s pretty much how our two and a half days with them went. We would play outside until the cold drove us inside. As soon as his jacket was off, Evan was setting up the game boards, or dealing the playing cards. He loves table games, not only because he is competitive, but mostly because he usually wins.
Davis was content to unwind and warm up on his own, playing his creative, imaginary games with his Lego people and assembled utilitarian pieces. I hope I’m alive when he is awarded the Noble prize in the sciences.
If she’s not playing with Davis, Maren knows all the buttons to touch on the screens of the iPad or laptop whichever is available to her. When I get over my pride, I’ll have to have her show me how to operate them.
My wife and I may have arrived home a week later than we expected. But in this case, the delay was no inconvenience at all.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2014