Christmas Vacation, the Beginning

She took the long drive down very nicely.

She took the long drive down very nicely.

Following weeks of worrying about every little detail the day finally arrived, it was time to catch a train. The morning was cool but clear with lots of sunshine perfect for traveling. We had a twenty percent chance of flurries, no problem. We got chores done and finished packing then laid the child down for her nap and snuck in a quick one for ourselves.

We woke up to snow. What the heck, when did that happen? No problem the radar showed it mostly north of us and we were heading south, it was only supposed to be flurries anyway. We were still good to go. The roads were snow covered but not slick we made good time for maybe six miles.

As we came to the intersection It seemed at first that there were cars scattered everywhere. We slowed to go through and realized they had wrecked. We came to a stop and realized they had JUST wrecked. Pulling to the side of the road I remember seeing a man carrying a child up out of the ditch. All we could see was little legs dangling limply over his arm.

I stayed in the car to watch our own small child while my husband went to see if he could help. There was a minivan, what was left of it in the middle of the side road. A woman sat in the passenger seat, I never saw her move the whole time we were there. The whole front end of the van was gone, not a drop of glass remained unbroken and pillows, blankets and a cooler of snacks for the trip were scattered across the highway. In the ditch was a pickup smashed into the bank, the front windshield had a hole in it.

As I called 911 my husband came back to the car with two children in tow. They were rumpled and bruised and needed a warm place to wait for help to arrive. As they got in the operator asked if anyone was hurt should they send an ambulance. I looked to my husband his answer was a resounding yes. Lots of blood he said, then headed back leaving me with the boys.

I have seldom wished so desperately for the right thing to do and say. I had aspirin but knowing the rules, for horses at least, hesitated to offer any before they saw a doctor. I offered a bite of candy, chocolate is my cure for everything. They didn’t want any. We talked, they told me about their lives and visiting their grandparents for Christmas. Shortly their father came to check on them he was nearly frantic and trying to hold it together. His wife was injured but holding up, I guess, and his youngest boy was laying in what little shelter their destroyed van could offer bleeding and screaming. As a mother I can’t begin to imagine the horror. He looked them over briskly telling them they were OK then broke for a moment clutching them and sobbing before he regrouped and went back to the others.

It seemed like ages before the ambulance got there. It’s a volunteer department so the guys had to rush in from their work then back out on snowy roads. Once there they had to figure out who to help first. The young boy won but fortunately a fire truck was close behind. In my concern over the small child and the chaos of the scene I didn’t realize until we left that the girl who had been driving the pickup was pinned inside. She had gone not quite through the window then was tossed into the passenger seat. Her poor father was there also, called to the accident from their nearby house, he was sick with worry for his daughter.

We had a train to catch though and by the time enough police and other much more qualified people showed up we decided it was time for us to be going. The boys moved to the warmth of a police car and we watched them go wishing again that there was more we could do. With the horrors of the wreck fresh on our minds we headed off down the slick snowy roads.

Over an hour later than our original start time, we had to drive slower because of the snow and began to worry a little about making our train. We had allowed plenty of leeway though and it was only a snow flurries we would be out of it in no time, not. We planned to meet family in Ogalalla for supper and thought we should still be able to squeeze it in. We called just past Ash Hollow to tell him we were coming then the semi we were following chickened out after seeing a fellow semi spinning out going up a hill on the highway, he slowed to about ten miles an hour. I thought we were never going to get there. We did though and had a delicious supper. All the in town restaurant goers assuring us the whole time that the roads weren’t really bad, the salt trucks were out.

Back on the road again they were great till we go out of town. The hour and a half drive from there to the station took three. We crawled along feeling like we were speeding at forty then down to thirty as we tried to see the road ahead. Luckily the train was delayed as we arrived at the original leave time. So with fifteen or so minuets to spare we got to know our fellow travelers. A newly pregnant young actress was heading to Omaha and a young couple with a year old boy were heading to Naperville right along with us. Not the crowd I expected, not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t this. We got along great until we said we had a sleeper. Then everybody decided we were pretty highfalutin, the reverse snobbery is simply astounding.

The Goblin Child lived up to her name. She scampered back and forth across the bed and screamed that special ear splitting scream at the top of her lungs at any attempt to restrain her. I spent the drive down wanting to clutch her to my chest and never let go, within ten minuets on the train I wanted to beat her. I didn’t of course, that should go with out saying but thought I should clarify. Did I mention the room was three feet wide?

We opened the door carrying a car seat, two suitcases, a diaper bag, purse and so on and found bunk beds, a foot of clearance between them and the door and that was it. No room under to stash bags no closet no nothing, it was a bit tight. It was a rough night and I wish I could apologize to our neighbors for the racket.

On the bright side we got a text from a sister-in-law saying that the people in the minivan were alright, the boy had only needed stitches apparently receiving no other injuries from being thrown clear out of the car. I hope that story was right because Chadrad got the story totally mixed up.

To be continued…….

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