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Mother Nature wrecks trip

October 03, 2008|By CANDACE REYNOLDS, 54, Hagerstown

About 12 years ago, returning to Hagerstown after spending an April Easter vacation in Connecticut at grandma's house, we were blindsided by the biggest snowstorm seen that winter.

Going through New York and Pennsylvania via Interstate 84, the snow began and we cruised along at 20 mph to 30 mph unable to see far, when all traffic stopped. We learned later that a semi had overturned on the slick road.

We sat in the car in the mountains for over three hours, constantly brushing snow off the windshield and trying to keep warm by running the car for heat, then turning it off because of the fear of running out of gas.

The kids were 3 and 8 and all we had for food was an orange and a can of soda. When nature called, I had to hang my daughter out the door above the snow.


The police finally decided to turn the traffic around, going back north on the southbound side for several long miles until we crossed over to Interstate 84 north.

We were too far to go back to grandma's and everyone had the same thought as we did: Find a motel and spend the night. Few and far between in this remote area.

The first hotel was full. We dashed to the next place and I literally leapt out of the car and ran into the lobby and secured the last room. Other stranded travelers were told they could sleep in the lobby.

We got to the room and tried to settle in and as my husband was halfway through a shower, all power in the town went out. He felt his way out of the room and than had to trudge back outside in knee-deep snow to the car to retrieve a flashlight since my daughter was not too happy with the darkness and that my son was telling her scary stories with sound effects didn't help.

We spent the night, only to learn in the morning that the interstate was closed. I would say one to two feet of snow had fallen.

Finally, late in the morning, they opened the road and we drove on south passing a lot of stranded cars and a lot of yellow spots on the snow. Many people spent the whole night in their cars.

We got on Interstate 81 and near Scranton the traffic was stopped. A portion of the road was still closed because of the snow and stranded cars. We sat there for over 2 1/2 hours before traffic started moving.

A six-hour ride home turned into a two-day trip.

We learned a lesson though: To make sure we always have an emergency box with food and warm clothes in the car well into the spring and never have less than half a tank of gas!

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