Look at how pretty and harmless that snow looks. Ah, Mother Nature.
Ha! She's not always a nice mommy, especially to travelers. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are snow sissys. It's a fairly moderate climate and we don't get that much of the white stuff. When we do, it's panic time.
The snow held off so we could enjoy family times on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but we knew it was coming any moment and so decided to spend the night at the airport on Christmas Day so we could fly out to be with our son's family in sunny CA the next day. We would dodge the Arctic cold and ring in the new year with the kids.
Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men... and Sheila. We awoke December 26th to see the hotel parking lot and all the cars in it covered with the white stuff. I felt very smug. Good thing we came out early. Planes were still flying out so it looked like we were good to go.
But before we left to crawl into the snowy airport parking lot, I stopped at the front desk and asked if we could get our room back just in case we couldn't get out. The desk clerk was so kind. Yes, she'd give us a late checkout and she'd be on duty until 3. Just call her and we'd have our same room. Great. Our flight was due to go out at 2. I was so organized.
Then we got to the airport. Flights were getting canceled. At our gate (where we had arrived hours early, just to be on the safe side), people were sitting on the plane to Portland -a 45 minute flight - for 2 hours, waiting to get de-iced. They were still there when it was our turn to fly out. Our flight got moved to another gate. Then our flight got delayed. Okay, delay means you're still flying out, right? Wrong. If only I'd realized that sooner I'd have called the hotel. Alas, I trusted the airline, especially when our man at the gate desk said, "We're just waiting for the crew." After several friendly chats with him I learned that this translated to, "We're trying to find a crew." Oy. I began hunting for hotel rooms. Ours was long gone. So was every other room in every hotel anywhere near SeaTac International. And the one hotel that had a room had no shuttle. It was looking like we were going to be spending the night at the airport. All we needed now was Steve Martin and John Candy.
We finally decided to get in the car, drive down the old highway 99 and see if we could find a room... somewhere. Then the shuttle driver who took us back to the parking lot said he'd heard the freeway was clear. All right. Go for it. We were heading home.
The freeway was not clear. The freeway was scary. I had moments of tears, moments of panic, and many moments of kicking myself for not securing that room way back when I first left the hotel.
The good news is, we made it home in one piece.... after seeing many cars stranded off on the side of the freeway.
The even better news is... I learned many lessons in all of this. One being to go ahead and listen to that instinct and have your Plan B ready. In this case, I should have been willing to eat the cost of a room not used rather than wind up with no room. If I had we'd probably be in California by now. But that's not the most important lesson. The bigger lesson is not to panic. To have a little faith. As we drove down that snow and ice infested freeway it finally dawned on me that I was acting a lot like the disciples in the boat in that storm we read about in the Bible. Jesus, the Master, was with them, calmly asleep in the boat, and yet they were in total panic mode. We're all gonna die! That would have been me, the sissy in the boat, hyper-ventilating. But I didn't want to be the sissy in the boat. I wanted to trust that God was watching out for me. So I began to command myself, "Don't be the sissy in the boat. Trust God." I finally calmed down and was able to stop freaking out. And I learned that faith and trust go a long way toward alleviating panic and unhappiness. This was a short journey - nothing like the longer one I took when I was fighting uterine cancer - but it was a good reminder that, no matter where I am or what I'm going through, my heavenly Father is with me. We're currently snowed in and won't be celebrating the new year with the kids. But we are well and together. And grateful.