By this time the roads were starting to get covered with snow in some areas, but there were a ton of cars driving so I was fine heading back to one of the main roads. It took a while because of all of the traffic, but I made it to the road I needed to be on and I started to head towards the interstate. I didn't get too far before I saw more cars turning around another big hill that crosses over the Chattahoochee River. There were cars that were sliding and one tractor trailer that wasn't able to make it back up the hill on the other side and it had blocked the entire road. I turned around for a second time and was able to make it back up the hill. There were cars sliding all around me and at this point I started getting a little worried just thinking about how far I had to drive back to Alpharetta and how many hills I knew I had to go up and down. Plus, the snow continued to pour down. It took me about 30 minutes to make it less than a 1/2 mile because of all of the traffic and during this time I talked to my best friend, Jen, who was in a different part of town trying to make it home from Parker's school. She was stuck on a road with people unable to make it up or down hills with sliding and she said that people were starting to abandon their cars and just get out and walk. We half joked about trying to get a hotel room nearby or even somewhere safe to stop (like a hospital that she could see), but little did we know that for many, things would get so much worse.
By 2:15 we were still inching along and barely moving because of all the traffic. The kids still hadn't eaten lunch and I wasn't sure how long it would take to get us home. When I finally made it to the Publix we pulled in for a quick pitstop. I was going to prepare for the worst so I got bottled waters, a box of granola bars, sandwiches, and a few other snacks and we hurried on our way.
I made it to the end of the main road and when I started on a two lane road, I had a very bad feeling. Cars were turning around, which told me the road was most likely not passable, but a few kept going. I had been able to talk to Robby and he assured me that with 4-wheel drive, my car was capable of making it up the snowy hills and as long as I drove safe I should be OK. Getting down the hill I was able to see that there were other cars stopped ahead because of people not able to make it up the hills. I still thought that if they could get moved I would be OK with the other people in 4-wheel drive cars. Then a police officer came and roped off across a bridge and no one was going that way. I turned around and there was another huge line of cars. In both directions people were just stopped, looking around, and wondering what in the world to do.
We stayed on that road for about an hour in that same spot and all the time I was running every scenario through my head. I'd seen several people just park their cars on the side of the road and start walking. The kids started asking when we were going to be home and wondering if we would even make it there. I was seriously worried we'd be stuck there all night. I wanted to stay positive for the kids so I told them to smile for a pictures so I could put it on the blog about the crazy snow.
I contemplated walking back to a shopping center that was about a mile away and also I thought about all of the neighborhoods that were right beside me and how I could start knocking on doors if I got desperate. The opposite lane of traffic kept inching down not knowing the bridge was closed opening up that side. The guy in the car behind me got out to walk up and check out what was going on up the hill. He came back and told me he had 4-wheel drive also and he thought we could make it up in the opposite lane since it was blocked ahead and just get past all of the stopped, stuck, and waiting cars. I went for it and that was the BEST decision I made. Some people were giving us nasty looks as we went past them in the wrong lane, but I have never been so grateful for 4-wheel drive in my life. As I made it to the end of that road and back to civilization (aka the shopping center) I somehow did not feel as worried. Driving back to towards where I had originally come from I started going down a list of friends in my head that lived close-by and started calling them to see if the kids and I could come to their house because I didn't think we would make it home. I was so grateful when Erica said for us to come on over and even more grateful when I made it through her hilly neighborhood to her house. On the way there I told the kids we might get to have a sleepover and they loved that idea. Erica has a 6 week old baby and two older girls that are Handley and Harper's ages so as soon as we walked in the kids all took off to play. Erica's mom had come over to play in the snow with the kids and knew she wouldn't be able to get out of the neighborhood so she was stuck there, too. We had the news on and that is when the stories started to unfold about just how dangerous and awful the rest of this day would be for so many others. Watching the reports of interstates and side roads totally gridlocked and people abandoning their cars to walk made me even more thankful that after my 4 hours in the car, I had made the decision to turn back and call my friend and find somewhere safe and warm for us to stay.
After I let my nerves calm down a bit the kids and I bundled up so they could go out and play in the snow. It was Hudson's first time seeing snow and he loved it!
The kids continued to have a ball together and loved getting to wear their friends' pajamas, brush their teeth with their finger, and have a sleepover all together. Hudson kept saying he wanted to go home and sleep in his bed, but he finally fell asleep, too. I just laid there awake half the night, my heart pounding, and unable to sleep. There were so many reports on the news about people and stories of friends on Facebook who were stranded. Kids spending the night in schools who couldn't get home, kids on buses stuck in all of the gridlock, people sitting on the interstates unable to move and running out of gas and others who abandoned their cars and walked miles and miles to get home. I just kept thanking God that I was in a place with toys, food, and clothes for my kids!
Robby had tried to leave his office only to be stuck in the same mess we were seeing on the news. Thank God, he tried to take an access road instead of getting on the interstate, or he would have been among the cars that sat stranded on the interstate for over 24 hours. He was able to inch bit by bit and get into the parking lot of Rays on the River (a restaurant) so he ended up eating and hanging out there for about 5 hours. Then around 11:30 PM he was able to make it back to his office (that was close by) and slept there for the night.
The next morning were more stories of people who had taken refuge anywhere they could find. Pictures and videos of people sitting in restaurants all night, people sleeping in the aisles at Publix, CVS, Home Depot and Target and then the poor people who were still stuck in their cars on the interstate. The stories I loved hearing the most were about the southern hospitality that so many displayed. People walking to the interstates to give out food and water to those stranded, people opening up their homes to those who couldn't get to their own homes, and people with 4-wheelers helping to rescue pregnant women, elderly, and children.
On Wednesday we took the kids back out to play in the snow and when they were done with that they dressed up, played Wii, and had the best time. Robby was able to get to Erica's house that afternoon and I was so happy to see him! He took the kids and I home and we left my car because we weren't sure what the roads would be like. It was surreal seeing hundreds of cars just abandoned on the side of every road we took.
School is cancelled again for Friday because so many of the neighborhoods and back roads are still icy. One thing is for sure, you can bet that if there is snow in the forecast again, we will be sitting right at home and might take our own snow day, even if school is not called off. That is one experience I do not wish to experience again!