Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Road Home: Part Four

It’s time for the fourth and final part of my road trip back to Virginia. After driving through the rest of Missouri that morning, the next state we passed through was Illinois. Southern Illinois is full of fields. Geez, at this point, it seems like most states in the entire country are filled with nothing but fields! But, Illinois did throw a curve ball and presented some great entertainment, if only for a little while.

There had to have been an antique car show or something nearby because we saw SO many antique cars on the freeway and at gas stations where we stopped. It was amazing to see these cars and of course I picked out which one would have been mine. Couldn’t get a picture of it though!

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Sadly, there was not much off the freeway in Illinois and Indiana to take pictures of. I’m not hating on you, Indiana/Illinois bloggers :)

Next up was Kentucky. I was a pretty big fan of Kentucky! Louisville is an awesome city, I started to feel more humidity, and the rest stops were very nice :) Oh, and they had White Castle. First time ever going there.

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If someone could explain to me what the “Yum Center” is, that’d be great. And, yes, I know I look like a big girl driving that truck all by myself in the below picture. Haha! Riiiight. But, hey, my chin definition is pretty on-point for some reason…

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Stella was an absolute champ throughout the whole journey. I had been so nervous since she’s an indoor cat and had never done any heavy traveling {to my knowledge.} She napped and napped and was just a little doll.

Okay, so to explain the tri-collar system: Green collar=regular collar. Dark purple collar=pheromone collar that was supposed to “relax” her. I’m still not buying it. Lighter purple collar=flea collar because who knows what mites are in those hotel rooms?! She is now only wearing the green collar :)

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Look at all that gorgeous greenery! Totally different from where I started my journey earlier that week. This country is truly magnificent. It was so uplifting to see true beauty after such a trying and painful time in my life.

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Although I’ve been to West Virginia countless times before, the beauty of that state was also astounding. I think that state often does not receive the credit that it deserves. Okay, so the rest stops weren’t my absolute favorite there, but the scenery, the beautiful shopping centers we’d pass, the old capital city of Charleston… all amazing.

Then, once the sun went down and we stopped for dinner at 8:00pm, things started looking downward. The latest weather update for Hurricane Irene was not looking good and we needed to get home to my poor, little mom. Soon after we got back on the road after our bite to eat, we realized we probably wouldn’t be making it home that night.

Cue Sandstone Mountain.

Driving Eastbound on this section of I-64 there is a 1,433 foot descent from the summit of Sandstone Mountain. The reported grade is 7% for 5 miles! It is steep, fast, windy, with several emergency truck run-offs to remind you of the intensity of the descent. My dad was pretty nervous about this and slowed down. I tried cheering him on. I remember saying, “See, Dad! We’re already 2 miles down the hill!” Then, the entire truck started shaking as we “braked” down the mountain. Shaking. More shaking. And even more to the point where I thought we were going to flip over. There was complete silence. I reached down to make sure Stella was okay, holding on for dear life with my other hand.

The brakes were too hot from the very steep 5 mile descent. With the weight of the truck AND trailer with my car pushing it down the mountain, the brakes were working too hard to slow the truck down. It was scary. We survived. A bit traumatized, but we survived. Scared of any more intense mountains, my dad decided to take it easy {and drive under the speed limit} until we were on I-81 in Virginia. That said, we probably lost a good hour or two. Safety first, friends!

It was so late at night when we reached Virginia that this is all I could get:

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We stopped at the VIRGINIA Welcome Center to re-group, call Penske to make sure our brakes weren’t going to fail, and to give Stella some food and water. We got back on the road. However, not long after, we both started to lose it. It had been SUCH a long day week and we needed sleep. We decided we’d stop in Harrisonburg {home of JMU – GO DUKES! That’s for my brother} and stay at the Hampton Inn and leave super early to make it to Northern VA before the hurricane hit.

Welp, it just so happened to be “move-in weekend” at JMU so the hotels were packed with parents and families. Not only that, but, a lot of Virginia cities had been evacuated and a bunch of those people decided to stay in Harrisonburg I guess. There was not ONE hotel room available anywhere in Harrisonburg or the surrounding towns. Looks like I’d be sleeping in my own bed, after all!

The second we entered Fairfax County {the county I’m from} I shouted and put my hands in the air :) I didn’t care how long it took, I was home.

At 4:15 EST, we finally arrived at the house. It was a wonderful feeling - to be back, safe, and on my way to happiness again.

If you’ve followed me along this journey, thank you. It’s still not over. There will still be healing, learning, and moving on to do but I thank you for your support and understanding as I rebuild my life.

{Also: Today I’m guest posting for Ashley over at Diary of a Reporter. Head on over there to keep me some company as I write about something personal I’ve learned throughout this chapter. And while you’re there, be sure to explore Ashley’s beautiful and thoughtful blog. I just adore that girl :) }

9 comments:

ashley said...

great pictures, Chelsea! What beautiful scenery :) Thanks so much for guest posting today. Your post was so great! Have a great Thursday!

Jessica said...

The pictures from all four posts are amazing! I live in Ohio and we have our big cities, such as Columbus and Cincinnati, but most of the state is a bunch of corn fields. It gets really pretty during certain times of the year and I love taking pictures of everything. It's great that you're home safe and sound, and I hope Hurricane Irene was kind to you.

Lauren said...

I love driving through WVU because it's so beautiful, but I'm not gonna lie - it terrifies me too. Those mountains are scary, even if a vehicle that's not loaded down or trailing anything.

Now that you're HOME in VA, I hope I get to see you when I come home to visit. I know Thanksgiving is hectic, but if there is a way I'm SO seeing you :)

Can't wait to read your guest post, I adore Ashley's blog!

Karen said...

All your pictures make me seriously want to take a long road trip in a huge RV.

Denise said...

Aren't road trips the best?! I recently drove from Texas all the way up to North Dakota and couldn't believe how freakin' gorgeous east Kansas is! It was crazy :)

Lauren said...

Yay for KY! (my state!) and I have a toy poodle named Stella! Great name!

Raquel said...

Ahh yay i'm so glad you all made it home safe! I bet it feels amazing to be back in NOVA :)

Sophie @ threetimesf said...

I love vintage cars :) Everytime I see one I think 'ooooh, I could see myself driving around in that'!
Lol @ the triple collar situation! Poor Stella!

Megan said...

i think stella has more collars than i have necklaces here LOL :) kidding!

west va is sooo gorgeous to travel through i think. although when i just traveled through there i missed a toll and probably have a suspended license now. oh well...not much i can do about it from norway.

glad you made it home in one piece! its going to be a long road to finding normalcy in your life again but if you can survive a cross country trip in a big truck, you can survive anything! haha :)