Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Christmas 2008 - Day One

We had the most awesomest, wonderfulest, bestest Christmas this year. And i'll get to all of it soon. But i thought i'd better start at the very beginning, which in this case, is the very worst place to start.

We left on Friday, the 19th around 12:30 in the afternoon. We were trying to beat the storm that was coming that day. We didn't beat it.





I took this picture at about 4:40--just so i could blog about how bad the driving conditions were...kinda funny...
About half way to Reid's parents' house, in the middle of Nowhere, WY, we did this to our car.





The accident was our "fault," even though we're much more prone to blame the icy roads, the limited visibility, the stupid driver who stopped half way into the break down lane, and the two semis stopped next to one another in both lanes. Reid had two choices as we unsuccessfully tried to stop--either pull into the borrow pit and risk flipping the car, or just keep pumping the brakes and hope we'd catch assfault before hitting the guy in front of us. Well, we hit the guy. We were only going about 15 miles an hour (which you wouldn't believe by looking at the picture!) The airbags didn't even deploy. But it did make our car undriveable. The next 6 hours played out like this:

4:45 accident happens. Reid swears. Emily calls 911.
4:46-Grace wets her pants (but not all the way, which plays out later), Emily deals with that while Reid's standing out on a snowy I-80, talking to the guy we hit, who happened to be NICEST man in the world--thank heavens for that!!
4:51 Emily gets out and sees the damage to car and surprises Reid with a few explitives or her own.
4:52-6:45 We wait for the State Trooper. We feel quite vulnerable sitting there on the side of an increasingly snowier freeway. It's dark now, too. The car's still running (again, thank heavens!!) so we're warm. The girls are complaining , they're sick of being in the car (it's been 5+ hours at this point) and Grace is crying relentlessly about how desparately she needs to go peepee and how it hurts so bad and how she doesn't know how to go in a diaper anymore. This is one of the hardest things for mom to deal with.
6:50 -State trooper shows up. Reid disappears into his car for what seemed like HOURS. And then it happens. Emily has the breakdown. It had to happen, right? I just started crying hysterically and every time Grace would cry about how badly she had to pee i would just cry more. The word hysteric doesn't quite capture my state of being. Thankfully Reid was back soon and he was able to hold it together!!
7:30 Reid gets back in the van and finds 4 girls all crying hysterically (okay, Abby and Eliza actually did REALLY well, but it makes a better picture this way). Reid tries to convince a hysteric Grace to sit over the Bumbo and pretend it's a toilet (we'd put a diaper in the seat) and Grace just screams more.
7:45 The State Trooper encourages us to try to drive the van to the next exit--BIG MISTAKE, dude!! After driving it about half a mile the (cracked) radiator gives out, which means that the heat went out, and we had to turn the car off. This does not do good things for the melt-down which i'm having! But at the same time, it kind of switches me into "mom mode" and i start putting as many clothes and blankets on the girls as i could find.
8:30 The temperature in the car is still a comfortable 40 degrees. The storm outside is a billion times worse than when we started. We've gone through most of the food we brought, with the exception of a few oranges and the head of cabbage that i rescued from my crisper (i know, i'm ridiculous, but i couldn't let it go to waste!) We're starting to think that the tow dude is never coming. Grace is still screaming about how bad it hurts and how she knows that there's a bathroom here and that we're lying saying that there isn't.
8:45 The tow truck finally shows up. I feel a sense of calm that I thought I'd never feel again. Those four hours were the longest hours of my life. We felt like sitting ducks there parked on the side of an icy freeway. And i was sure it was never going to end. So when that tow truck showed up, I felt something so beyond relief, it's impossible to describe. I think I even told the tow truck driver that I loved him.


Here are the girls in the back of the tow truck. What you can't see is Grace holding Eliza's hand in hers--so sweet!!!


8:46-8:51 My amazing husband picks the girls up in their carseats trudges through 18" of snow and somehow boosts them into the 4 feet high cab of the truck. I've told this story a million times, and I've never been able to do justice to how amazed I was by Reid in this moment. Maybe it wasn't really a big deal, but in that moment it seemed like he was approaching super-heroism lifting those 40+lbs carseats over his head like that.
9:00 Our van is on the truck, and we're on the road. Matt, the driver, informs us that this is going to cost us (drum roll, please) $491 American dollars!! We're really wishing we would have forked out that $4/month for roadside assitance....
9:00-9:50 I try many, many times to talk Matt down on the price. Matt, although extremely nice, stood his ground. I don't get rejected very often when bargaining with people, so I really didn't know how to react. On any other day, in any other moment, I wouldn't have given up so easily. But $$$ could not have seemed less important in this moment. He could have said $4000 and we still would have paid it. Getting my children off the side of the freeway and into a safe, warm place had no price limit in that moment. And for me, the penny pinching queen, to say that is a big deal.
9:30 Reid convinces Grace to just let "a little bit of pee pee into the diaper" and she DOES IT!!! And then she realized that it isn't the worst thing in the world, and she empties that bladder that she's been holding onto for 4+ hours. Thank heavens!!
9:50 Matt agrees to take us on a detour (without charging us extra--not that $491 isn't enough), to the Rock Springs airport, where they drop me off to get a car rental.
9:55-10:15 I'm at the Rock Springs airport (if this airport's existence doesn't shock you as much as it did us, then you've never driven past Rock Springs) waiting for the nervous teenaged boy to get the jammed receipt out of the printer so i can get in my car and go. Meanwhile, Reid and the girls are in the tow truck on their way to the ONLY mechanic in a 134 mile radius who "won't be able to get to our car until late January, at the earliest"...
10:20-10:30 I meet up with the rest of the clan at the mechanic's lot. It's negative 16 degrees outside. We load the girls into the rental (a wee little SUV) and spend the next 10 minutes trying to a) not get frost bite on our fingers and faces and b) load EVERYTHING from our HUGE mini van into the back of the Trail Blazer (I dont' know how you SUV drivers with kids do it, i honestly don't, those things are TINY!!!). We knew right then that there was a huge chance we'd never get to see our van again, so we had to take EVERYTHING out. We had 2 HUGE suitcases, 2 pack n' plays, 2 guitars (we'll get to that later) a booster seat, 200+ diapers, a bumbo, all the presents for both of our families, blankets, all the stuff that's just always in our van (visor CD holder, atlases, manuals, flashlights, etc). So Grace and I had loads of stuff on our laps. And we still had to leave a few items in the van. Including the cabbage.
10:45pm -We show up at the dumpiest, smelliest, grimiest motel in the world...and we couldn't have been happier! We ordered pizza, jumped on the beds, called our families, watched The Santa Clause and finally crashed just before midnight. Yes, our sweet children were up until midnight and I couldn't have cared less. It's amazing what a dose of perspective will change.


We felt so blessed that night just to be alive. Even though what happened wasn't really all that "life-threatening" it just kind of opened our eyes to all the could have happened. And all that didn't happen. I couldn't even begin to count how many times "i love you's" were exchanged. And it never seemed like enough.

We offered at least 10 vocal prayers of thanks that day. Grace started being a little weirded out by how many times we kept praying, I can't say I blame her! But what else could we do???? We were alive. Just as alive as we'd been the night before, yes, but this night was different because we recognized God's hand in it. I didn't sleep much that night in the hotel, needless to say. Neither did Reid. Between the replaying of the accident and the prayers of gratitude, our minds and hearts would not stop. But the girls slept, which was wonderful.

We returned the car to the Jackson airport the next day (we didn't have rental coverage either...and yes, i've learned my lesson) and Reid's WONDERFUL parents let us borrow their car the rest of the trip. The insurance adjuster confirmed what we'd suspected--the van's a total loss. So they pay us what the van was worth before the accident, and we spent much time in UT test driving new vans. None of them seemed like quite the right fit. But a dear friend of ours here in CO test drove this beauty for us:


And we came home the next day and bought it! Anyone who knows the Odyssey knows that there are some pretty big differences between and '03 and an '06 and I've been coveting the newer model since the day we bought our old one. And now, only one crazy accident and greatly increased insurance premiums later, I've got it! Merry Christmas to me!!

15 comments:

Em Russ said...

WOW!!

Em Russ said...

p.s. Mindy has a new Odyssey and I have an old one. Now I'm jealous of you too!

merathon said...

i can't believe you left the cabbage.

seriously, that is a CRAZY story! i do hope that you started out with the worst story of the trip!

Lori said...

Wow! What a story...I think I would have had a hysterical, breakdown moment too.

carie said...

i am completely speechless. I think this tops last year's ER Christmas vacation.
I know how it is driving on I-80 in white-out conditions. We did it last Christmas and have forever decided to skip Christmas in Utah.

Drew said...

Cabbage and curse words. WOW. I almost had to use the Bumbo and a diaper from laughing so hard. Glad to see you made it though.

Amanda said...

Reid and Emily, this all sounds like a wild excuse not to stop by our house to pick up your prints. If you don't want to see us, just say so. We are so grateful that you are all safe. I may try the same thing to get a new Odyssey as well.

Team Millward said...

Ok, how did you fail to mention the cabbage? Which by the way doesn't surprise me at all. What does surprise me is how long you went without the breakdown. Ask Mike, I usually have a breakdown before we are out of Highlands Ranch. After last years ER trips, and this years car adventure, maybe that's your sign to never leave for Christmas again!

Adrie said...

I know what you mean about "perspective"...it truly changes everything. I'm so grateful you are all o.k., and more grateful that Heavenly Father was taking care of everyone. I couldn't bear it if anything happened to you guys! Your family is amazing, and don't you forget it!!

The Strouds said...

Wow!! Glad to hear (read) that you guys are all ok! What a horrible (yet very funny) story.

Dana said...

What a way to start your Christmas vacation - I am so happy that you are all safe and that you were able to get that new Odyssey!!

theultimatemama said...

i'm not gonna lie-the way you wrote it made me laugh. i can't for the life of me picture you crying or reid swearing.....

Just Us said...

Wow what a nightmare. Sounds like you handled it much better than I would have :) Glad to hear everyone is ok!

Elise said...

WOW! Just like all those have written before me. It's a crazy and scary story but the way you write it is just so funny, I couldn't help but laugh! I'm so glad you all are safe and sound though, and I hope that your trip was all uphill from there!

Yasmine said...

Umm, I have driven past Rock Springs and the airport is definitely a shocker! And I feel sorry for the poor guy who has to open the van door after that cabbage has sat in it for who knows how long!
I agree with you about the SUV's. When we tell people we want a bigger car and they tell us to get an SUV I think they're nuts!