Adventures don’t always start the way you expect them to. This time, it began with a 12-hour drive through one of the worst ice storms to ever hit Ontario.
We inched along through snow, sleet, rain and finally fog. Josh’s hands gripped the wheel tightly as he kept his eyes on the road ahead. Ice froze on the windshield and side mirrors, forming a skin of dinosaur amour. He occasionally sighed or grabbed his coffee, but never did his gaze break from the road ahead.
The car was packed to maximum capacity. While we had worked hard to bring only what we needed, the two suitcases plus half a dozen extra bags meant that we couldn’t see out the back window of the car: Tetris-style packing filled every inch of space. The bike trailer, covered with a tarp and tied off like a pork roast, was cinched to the roof.
There is no feeling better than the anticipation of a big adventure. Excitement bubbled in my belly, like the slow simmer of a crock pot, emanating occasional bursts of glee which escaped through my mouth in little giggles or exclamations of joy.
“Yay us!” I said to Josh, as we slowly made our way across Montreal. All the work had paid off. The house was packed up. The cat was at her temporary home. We had said our goodbyes for the year. We would be leaving behind snow and cold, but first we had to get through the storm.
Charlie was asleep, April occupied with her books and markers. I was in charge of music and snacks. Terrible driving conditions aside, I felt calm and happy. I had worked hard to put everything into place so that we could go on the trip, had been anticipating this day for months, and now, it was here. December 21st – the first day of our next adventure.
It turns out that we were lucky. Just ahead of the worst of the storm, we left behind the sleet and ice-encrusted trees just past Toronto, meeting warmer temperatures and a pause in precipitation as we headed south to New York State. But warmer air and cold ground created horror-movie fog, so thick we couldn’t see a car’s length ahead. A deer on the side of the road startled us, Josh’s speed diminishing to half the posted limit.
Exhausted, we finally arrived at the cottage around 2am. After twelve solid hours of driving, the relief of arrival was tangible. I started laughing. Opening the car door, I could hear a rush of water: our little creek had turned into a raging river, two feet of snow having melted in the unseasonably warm weather. April had a fever, and after sleeping for nine hours, Charlie was now ready to play. All I could think of was sleep, but with two small people to organize, it didn’t come for another hour.
Despite the gruelling drive, I am extraordinarily grateful. Unlike many unlucky Canadians, who are stuck without power, or stranded en route to their holiday destinations, we made it. Our first day with the family was perfect. The boys drove up to Buffalo for a football game, and with three ladies to occupy the kids, I managed to sleep, read short stories in the sauna, take a protracted shower, and start drinking at 4pm.
I am currently hiding out in my parents’ bedroom on the top floor of the house. It just started to snow, and I can hear the voices of my brother and his girlfriend, who are staying in the suite above the garage and just came into the house. My mom and April are cutting snowflakes out of paper, and I can smell the makings of breakfast. While hiding upstairs in my parents’ room is a nice respite from the family, my growling belly is telling me that it’s time to join the horde. I’m grinning. It’s Christmastime and I’m exactly where I want to be.