Our Trip to Notre Dame (in spite of Mother Nature!)

For Christmas I bought the boys tickets to see Notre Dame play hockey. As everyone who knows us knows, the boys live for hockey: they play it, they watch it, they idolize the sport. Needless to say, the boys and I were really excited about seeing our first Notre Dame hockey game. Our original plan was to get up Saturday morning and leave home right away so that we could spend the whole day strolling around campus, and then after the game we would stay the night and take our time getting home on Sunday. Well, as often happens, one thing after another popped up to the point that Plan A became Plan B became Plan C became...

When I bought the tickets, neither of my boys had hockey games of their own this weekend. It was a completely (and rare
) blank weekend. Then a practice game against the Arctic Senators of Orland Park was scheduled at home for Nick Saturday at 11:50 a.m. Then two more practice games were scheduled for Sunday against the Champaign Chiefs...there...first one at 8:30 a.m. These were only practice games, and Nick could miss them if he wanted, but, of course, he didn't want to, especially since the Champaign games were being played at the University of Illinois' ice arena. Nick had his heart set on skating on U of I ice. We decided then we would leave for South Bend, Indiana, after the Saturday game and make the two-hour trip home that night right after the Notre Dame game. And, well, early in the week, the weather forecast was calling for 53 degrees on Saturday, but by the end of the week a winter storm warning loomed.

We were able to get on the road by 1:30 p.m. Saturday and rolled into South Bend around 3:30. I drove in really strong winds but beat the storm there and hoped I might even get back home before things got really bad.

The game was awesome! We were in the sixth row almost right behind the team's bench. Notre Dame beat Ferris State 2-0 with a record-breaking shut-out for Notre Dame's goalie (five shut-outs in a season). It was one of those fast-paced, tension-fueled hockey games.

We walked out of the stadium, though, to ice pelting our faces, and after scraping a sheet of ice off my windshield, Nick suggested we just get a hotel room and stay there. I told him there would be lots of salt on the interstate highways, and the roads might not be so bad, that I wanted to try getting home. I didn't really relish the idea of getting stranded there and having to drive in even worse weather on Sunday in a lot more traffic. And so we headed west on I-80/90 right into the thick of the winter storm.

Things got really bad. I soon drove in complete darkness (not a light from anywhere!) unable to even see the lines on the ice-packed, snow-covered roads. We were far enough away from South Bend that I wasn't turning around and far enough away from anywhere else that I had to keep going....slowly at about 30 mph. The good thing was that there was not much traffic, and if I could just keep from driving off the side of the road, I thought I could just keep moving ahead...well, I didn't have much choice. So we moved ahead with ice and rain and snow pounding on the windshield and wipers clunking loudly against the ice built up along the edge of the windshield. We saw several cars in ditches and only once was one heading directly toward us as a young woman spun out coming out of a rest area.

Nick was wonderful. He remained calm and stayed awake even though he was dead tired and wanted so badly to go to sleep. He read the road signs, kept watch for the lines in the road, watched for other vehicles so that I could keep focused on finding previous tire tracks to follow in the hope that I was staying in my lane. At one point, he said, "Mom, let's just get a room somewhere. I can miss the Champaign game tomorrow." His father even called and urged us to do so. But there was really nowhere to go, so we kept on and got safely home just before midnight, a good hour later than expected.

Now this morning, the temperature is well into the 30s, the roads are slushy rather than icy, and Nick and Colin got up at 6 a.m. to head to Champaign with their father to play on the U of I ice.

And I am so grateful to be sitting here in my jammies in my own bed blogging and drinking my morning coffee.


Brandon said…
Reminds me of hearing about how my own mother drove all night from out of state (she was away due to a family emergency) to get home to us on Christmas Eve. We were quite young and I didn't even know everything she had gone through to get there until years later! Parents are capable of some amazing things sometimes, and it's great when the kids can see it and appreciate it.

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