Thursday, February 20, 2014

Florida Here We Come!

We left New Hampshire and drove to NYC on a cold but clear Tuesday morning. We are headed to Florida to escape the cold, the snow, the endless New Hampshire winter. For the first 3 years in New England winter was exciting, but as we have gotten more acclimated it gets old.

We plan on doing this drive in stages, we are too old to be doing any of those 12 hour days. It's an easy and uneventful drive to New York City, sunny and cold. We check into one of our favorite Kimpton hotels on the West side. I get us an upgrade to a nice room with a 14th floor awesome view. There is a nearby dog park which includes a friendly lab with a red ball that shares with Harper. Our trip is off to a good start!

Dinner is at a French bistro in the East Village, Lucien's. We thought we were going to the restaurant where we met Stephen and Bob a few years ago but turns out it was a different place. Still basic french bistro food, done very well. Lee had hanger steak with mushroom sauce and frites; I had a squab with a delicious risotto.

The next morning it's off to Fairfax, Va to visit with my friend Catherine. Another uneventful drive, but we are watching the weather with increasing concern. A chance of snow is morphing into snow, ice, sleet, and "an ice storm of historic proportions" to quote the hyperventilating weather reporters. We can get to Fairfax, but will we be able to get out?

It's nice to sit at Catherine's kitchen table, watch the birds at the feeders and talk. Lee and Catherine are both consultants and enjoyed comparing notes. The dogs were polite and well behaved, no accidents, no barking at squirrels.

We ate dinner at a funny little Thai place in Fairfax City center. As we were eating it started snowing, but just a little. We were still hopeful that the hype would be greater than the actual storm. This restaurant was decorated to look like someone's library, with a wall of random books. It was darling, and the food, although nothing spectacular, was decent.

We fell asleep thinking that maybe we had dodged a bullet. It was snowing lightly, but not much accumulation so far. But the morning brought a different story.

There was snow all right, a lot of snow. Catherine's front door was blocked, and when Lee opened the garage to let the dogs out the snow was over their heads. He shoveled them a small path and we sat around the table, trying to decide what to do.

We were supposed to drive to Durham North Carolina to visit with Richard and his wife, but it sounded like the Raliegh-Durham area had been very hard hit by this storm. Their roads were covered in ice and nearly impassable. But first we had to dig out Catherine's driveway and see if we could even get out of her subdivision. Then we would decide if we thought we could travel that day.

Catherine's driveway was not very long, and she had three snow shovels, so we got to work. Harper and Cosmo supervised our progress, with Cosmo urging us on. He could see the street, just beyond where we had shoveled, but the snow was too deep for him to barrel through, although he tried!

Once we had cleared the driveway I put the dogs on leashes and walked to the end of her subdivision. The subdivision had been plowed, and the main road had been salted and sanded as well. My car has all wheel drive. Should we make a run for it? How far could we get?

We decided to give it a shot. We would aim for Richmond, about a two hour drive in normal conditions. Any progress we could make would make the drive to Savannah the following day a little less painful. We packed up the car, gave Catherine a hug and headed south. Lee did the driving for the first part. The road that led to I-95 was cleared, after a fashion. The plows had created a single cleared lane in both directions, but the intersections were a mess. Piled up snow made each crossing a bit of a challenge, but my car was a trooper and barrelled through without incident.

I-95 was clear. There was no one on the road, and Lee could even go the speed limit. Before too long we were approaching Richmond, and we really weren't ready to stop yet. We decided to keep going and see how far we could get.

The temperature hovered in the low to mid 30's. The only issue was that as we drove further south there would be more ice, and less salt. We wanted to stop before that became an issue. A dog friendly Marriott Residence Inn in Rocky Mount North Carolina decided things for us. That's where we determined to spend the night.

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