After a great week at the beach we returned home via the road trip from hell. This complete road trip disaster included:
- Closed Roads
- Stopping for gas and watching (i’m pretty sure) a drug deal go down
- Change of plans on top of a mountain with no way to determine if that was actually a good idea
- Kid pooping on the side of the road. Cleaning it up with a grocery bag.
- Driving into ominous road signs
- Driving in a blizzard on the West Virginia Turnpike
- Kid pooping their pants in the back seat in the middle of a blizzard
- Running out of wipes in a gas station bathroom whilst dealing with poop explosion
- Realizing there’s nowhere to stop on the West Virginia Turnpike
- White knuckle driving from Virginia to Ohio
I am a seasoned road tripper at this point, and I got out of that minivan with the serious belief that I may never drive again. I will walk. Or ride a donkey. Anything. Else.
The day started hopeful. The sun was shining, the sky was clear. I was high on confidence!
My genius plan was to take a meandering and scenic journey up the blue ridge parkway and stop at the south entrance to Shenandoah National Park overnight. We were going to wake up refreshed in the morning and casually drive through the park and make our way home. In my mind these two days would be filled with chilly but scenic overlooks, great snaps for instagram and two adoring and appreciative children. Let me have my delusions.
We are driving across the state, fresh on our journey when suddenly there is an URGENT potty request. I practically drive off the road whipping to the nearest exit and there’s nothing to be seen, just a few used car lots and run down houses. As I was starting to get that nope feeling in my gut, the cries from the backseat were becoming more and more urgent. I finally see this little cement block gas station with bars on the window and a bunch of grown men hanging around their cars in the back. Now I might be paranoid but I’m also not an idiot so I rushed the kids through their business and flew back to the car. I also may or may not have dug up the bear spray and clipped it to my bag like I was hiking through grizzly country. Yes. I travel with bear spray. And a maglite. Safety First.
I was fairly rattled but determined to forge on to our little mountain cabin. The kids were very excited about seeing “blue mountain” and eventually we found the glorious blue ridge parkway. Oh goody! We wind our way up the mountain to find….
But I checked the weather!
It was in the 50’s and 60’s all week! There should not be any weather related closures here! When I got home I realized I never checked the NPS website, which clearly listed road closures for road maintenance. Epic Fail.
So there we are in the mountains, with no way to get to the cabin we are aiming for without significant rerouting. At that point it would have taken 3 hours to get there and it was only 5ish to home. I decided it wasn’t meant to be and turned around for home.
As we were driving through Virginia I kept noticing the road signs “Winter Weather Advisory”. Ummm. What. It’s beautiful and sunny! But I called Jake to check the radar *just in case*. The news was not good. It’s snowing in the entire state of West Virginia, all night.
Anyone ever driven the West Virginia Turnpike?
It’s my least favorite part of the drive on a good day, and brutal in any sort of inclement weather. It hadn’t yet starting snowing as I drove out of Virginia, so I decided to just keep driving and see how far I could get before the snow started to come down. I figured if I needed I could always stop for the night. I should have stopped for the night wayyyyy before the snow started coming down.
Both kids were asleep and I was making good time when the snow started. At first it was very gentle and nothing was sticking to the road. I figured if it kept like this I could make it to Ohio, where Jake informed me it was not snowing, and I would be good. HAHAHA.
I kept driving. And it started to come down a little harder. And then I couldn’t see anything. The sun had set and the road was accumulating snow rapidly. I was driving maybe 30 mph (so were all the other drivers) and starting to really worry. When I called Jake around Charleston, his verdict was not encouraging. I decided to pull off at the next available exit and find a place to stay. Except I must have missed the last exit before the emptiest stretch of road on this earth. I hit a top speed of 25mph and still was freaking out. The road and I were both a complete mess.
I asked Siri to find me the nearest hotel. It was 45 minutes away, in good conditions. I took the next exit to a gas station and had a small panic moment in the van. I could not stop shaking after that crazy drive. When we parked and got out I discovered that Abby pooped her pants. I mean. I can’t even blame her because that road almost got me too.
So here I am, trying to clean up this mess in a public restroom, whilst shaking like a leaf and internally freaking out about the lack of options available, when I realized I was out of baby wipes. OMG. Could this get any more ridiculous. I honestly have no idea how I kept myself together.
Eventually we got it all figured out with some wet paper towels and tried to leave the bathroom. I couldn’t find my keys. Then I found them and proceeded to slam my finger between the door handle and the air dryer. FML.
We got back into the car and I did some quick googling, only to discover we were basically in a dead zone of hospitality. No hotels. No restaurants. Nothing. Just one BP and 30 more miles until the nearest civilization. I have never felt so trapped in my life. We didn’t really have a choice, so we got back on the road. Thankfully the kids were troopers and stayed fairly silent in the backseat because I don’t know how I would have managed whining or fighting.
That 30 miles took us over an hour. The whole way I was tense and terrified. *side note* There were some trucks just barreling by me (and the other drivers) Like. What?!?! Do you have a death wish?!?!?
But we finally made it to Ripley, WV and just around there the roads started to seem a little better, and the snow was definitely slowing down. We were so close to Ohio, and it was mildly better, so I decided to keep driving. Jake told me that the snow didn’t go past Ripley so I thought if I could just make it the 15 miles to the border then I would be in the clear.
I am so dumb.
Things did slowly improve as we got towards Ohio and even more so the closer we got to home, but it wasn’t great. It’s been 24 hours and my shoulders are still tense and hunched. We eventually made it home, but I might just stay inside for the next week solid. That was too much adventure for this mama thank you very much.
Have you ever had a terrible road trip experience? Share it with me in the comment section below!
Are you heading out on your own road trip? Check out my post on tips and tricks for road trips with kids, and hopefully you can avoid having your own road trip disaster!