The day I thought we were going to die–Part I

Last summer, I braved a solo trip with the kids from Denver to Salt Lake City to Boise, Idaho to Sandpoint, ID to Calgary, Canada. Jamie flew to Canada and we later drove back to Denver via Waterton and Glacier National Park, a total of almost 50 hours in the car.

When we made the last-minute decision to drive to Calgary for Christmas, I knew what that entailed: often-dangerous winter driving. But as I checked road conditions, the weather was clear. Knowing I couldn’t drive 19 hours straight alone with both kids, I opted to overnight in Billings, MT. I even found a great hotel, Big Horn Resort, that had the largest indoor waterpark in Montana.
I even willingly swam. That’s really saying something for me.
My intrepid travelers and I made the trip in record time—8 hours from Denver to Billings and exactly 9 hours from Billings to Calgary. Jamie flew up right before Christmas and we planned to drive back together before New Year’s. One would think the return trip would be even smoother. You know–family togetherness and all?
Only it wasn’t. My Facebook updates tell the story:
Day 1

Dear U.S. Immigration: Maybe try to use your resources to tackle your colossal illegal immigrant problem vs. detaining AND fingerprinting a legal U.S. Resident at the border.

And then a few minutes later:

On another note, we’re driving through Boonieville Montana and it’s swarming with Federal Agents and tanks. Either they’re 1) doing a huge raid/top-secret security 2) filming a movie or 3) onto me.

Day 2

Federal agents, border detention, that’s one thing (OK, actually 2). But nothing could have prepared us for The Sheridan Incident.

Shortly after we left Billings at 6:30 a.m., we encountered snow and slick roads. It was dark and I was driving—a bad combination. Though slippery, I managed to slowly navigate for the next 2.5 hours as Jamie promised he’d take over as driver once we reach Sheridan, WY.

But it didn’t happen:

I-90 CLOSED in Sheridan. Prospect of spending New Year’s Eve holed up in a seedy WY hotel is pretty much on par with the rest of our 2011.

I’ve been on numerous road trips but have never encountered an entire freeway closure without a detour. It had snowed overnight and that, coupled with extreme wind, make for white-out and icy conditions from Sheridan to Buffalo, WY. After an hour of waiting, Jamie found on alternate route. And then the games began.

Tune in tomorrow to read about our Shortcut of Death.

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