After weeks of brutal cold and gray skies in Lords Valley, I asked myself “Why stay here when you are (1) missing friends; (2) sick of the weather; (3) obsessed with the weather; (4) driven by the weather; and (5) wanting to leave the cold, ice, and snow behind?” The answer was so simple. Nothing holding me back from loading up the car, making a few calls, and driving south. I decided to drive until there was no more white stuff on the ground and so Sydney and I stopped in Lumberton, NC, to spend the night, about 10 1/2 hours drive. It was the day after the big snowstorm, Janus, that dumped snow and ice on Washington, DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, etc. You get the picture. I was a bit concerned about the roads in Pennsylvania — about 5 hours til I got to I95. (I was so looking forward to the signs for Pedro’s big sombrero! “You never sausage a place.” “Kids — start whining now to stop at Pedro’s.” Anyone that has ever driven I95 south knows these iconic signs. It’s a way of knowing that you are well on your way anywhere but Pedro’s!)
After walking Sydney at the hotel, retrieving stuff from the now all-white car, an elderly couple stopped me and asked where I had come from. “How were the roads,” they asked, “because we are going to New Jersey.” I assured them that travel was okay and they said, “Don’t pack up your winter gear — it was really cold in Florida!” Cold is relative, I thought, at least it’s not snow and ice! Besides, Tallahassee gets winter — just not the kind of winter I was fleeing! Or, so I thought.
The next day, I drove the additional 7 1/2 hours and arrived at my cousin Jill’s house in Tallahassee mid-afternoon. Not only was it very cold, but it was supposed to get colder. Winter storm Leon (ironic — Tallahassee is in Leon County) was forecasted to bring ice, snow, and very cold temperatures to Tallahassee (albeit only for 2 days). Still I was skeptical. Friends set their alarms to get up to see the snow, people were set with winter gear to build snowmen and create snow angels.
My friend Kim took this picture of icicles on her beautiful tree, an unusual sight in Tallahassee for sure. Jill and I watched the Weather Channel for hours (isn’t this why I left the north?) and Tallahassee reacted. Schools and businesses were closed; Florida State University closed; dire warnings were posted about icy roads, and it became quickly apparent the the one dump truck/spreader that the City of Tallahassee had would be quite overworked. There were low temperatures, some ice, but no snow much to the disappointment of many. I10 was closed for a stretch west of Tallahassee because of icing on bridges and Tallahasseans had a snow day for the first time since 1989, even though there wasn’t any snow. It was cold, sleet fell and I stubbornly stuck to my schedule and went out to meet friends. Today it will be 65 and by tomorrow we will have temperatures for the next week in the mid to upper 70s. Crisis is over and I am happy to be here either way, but particularly to savor the warmth — temperature-wise and friendship-wise!