My coat is a jerk. I’m not sure when it turned on me. We were on good terms at the beginning of the season, as I had taken it in to be dry cleaned so it looked it’s best for winter. If I had to guess, I’d say it probably has disliked the number of days where a sick or unhappy Eva has run her nose over it, or left behind a tear. My coat decided to take its revenge over the Christmas break.
My break started Friday, as I’d work a half day and then we’d hit the road for the rest of it. Seems as though you could write this every year, but this Christmas is special. This year’s is the first which Eva knows what is going on, and her first birthday is also happening during our Christmas break. The only thing that stood in our way was a cranky coat and 10 inches of fresh snow plastering Iowa and its highways. You know it’s Christmas when you see that travel is “not recommended” and you head out anyway. We’re not going to let snow and the end of the world stop us. I’m sure it will be fine once we get there, right?
On my way home from work I stopped at Meijer to pick up a few supplies. While walking through the parking lot, my coat decides to eject my keys from its pocket in front of incoming traffic. Luckily my coat can’t judge speed well, and I’m able to gather them up before anything bad happens.
I get home and we start to pack the car for our temporary move to Cedar Falls. Our parents are providing a pack n play for sleeping, toys for playing, and a high chair for eating, yet the car is still packed to the gills. With winter clothes we are at a bag each, not to mention Christmas gifts and a kennel and bed for our other child Quinton. Fortunately we have a Tetris master in our family, so once she is done with her magic we are ready to go.
I take off my coat and place it on top of the pile. Once I sit in the driver’s seat, I look into the rearview mirror only to discover that my coat has now blocked the view. “You weren’t planning on checking back here, were you?” The coat was then relocated to the front seat and we were off.
There are four states in our trip home: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. The Ohio part was the easy, but we still had to contend with high winds. By the time we reached Indiana it was snowing. We make it through Indianapolis and hit a rest stop for Quinton. I leash him and grab my coat. We are standing outside when I attempt to put on my coat while not letting go of the leash. I was simply trying to pull off a complicated coat maneuver when my coat decides that there are enough people around for me to make an idiot of myself. The coat grabs a hold of the leash line and wraps itself around it. Before I realize what has happened, I’m tied up in the back and somehow have no coat coverage, a shirt that now has been pulled up slightly to expose my back to the elements, a shoulder that is cranked just short of causing problems, and a wife who is either now laughing or hiding her head in her hands.
Two minutes of untangling and the dog and I are now free from the entanglement. We get back in the car and take off. About 15 minutes later I start to get warm. “Psst, did you forget something?” My coat is now taunting me. I’ve forgotten to take it off and I’m now too warm. The winds and traffic are just annoying enough to keep me from taking it off now. Next stop, you’re gone.
We stop at least three more times, and I forget to take it off. My coat taunts me each time.
Illinois is typically our most annoying part of the trip due to the length and shear boringness, but tonight is a pleasant break from the elements. I use the downtime to write my first novel in my head. It’s called “The Miracle List”, and it’s somewhere in between a Lifetime movie or RomCom starring Amy Adams and Paul Rudd.
With about 45 minutes left to go in Illinois the roads start to show snow and ice. Driving under overpasses becomes a battle as we lose the wind momentarily and gain ice. We finally cross the border into Iowa and stop at a rest area. Quinton and I meet a long haired dachshund on her way from Milwaukee to Omaha.
I-80 stretches Iowa from the Quad Cities to Omaha. It’s constantly busy between the Quads and Des Moines and this night is not much different. We are accompanied by a large number of semis who may or may not be delayed a day due the storms working their way through the day before. Normally not an issue, but this night I-80 has one lane available for semi-comfortable driving (the left lane, oddly enough). There is a stretch of cars in the left lane travelling just below the speed limit, and each time a semi passed us on the right I clutched the steering wheel tighter waiting for a fish tail that takes all of us out.
Normally my optimism rules out the fear of ditch diving, but my eyes tell a tale that trumps the optimism. You know those movies where the hero is going to slay the dragon and walks through a valley filled with the carcasses of previous prey? This valley is the roads we travel tonight, trying to slay the dragon. The numbers of cars/trucks/semis in the ditches are massive. I estimate on the I-80 stretch we see maybe two to three dozen.
We exit I-80 for I-380 and I decide that I haven’t seen that many ditched vehicles. I decide to count them on the hour stretch. About two minutes into it, we see our first ditched semi. Its haul is overturned and part of the hood has been peeled off. Either he ran into a battle between two Transformers, or this storm was a dozy. During this hour stretch I saw 20 cars and 3 semis ditched, numbers that are definitely low due to the gorilla effect.
It’s now Saturday, and we finally reach our destination. The last part of the trip is the bumpiest, as the snow is packed on the roads by Iowans who don’t see 10 inches of snow as a reason to not go to work. A quick Happy Birthday is sung to the birthday girl, and we retire to our bed for the night and pass out. My coat waits outside, planning for the next day.