Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Adventures in Riveraland

Since today is Thanksgiving, it seems appropriate to do a review of memorable Thanksgivings past. Here is a brief overview of the Daniel and Tova Thanksgivings since we've been married:
Thanksgiving 2005 ~ Detailed in this blog. I'm not going to spoil the surprise.
Thanksgiving 2006 ~ Spent in Alpena. I got to meet many of Grace's relatives for the first time!
Thanksgiving 2007 ~ Spent in Jacksonville in a tiny apartment with Daniel and JL and Grace.
Thanksgiving 2008 ~ Spent in Miami in a crowded, family-filled place with Orlando and Ricardo fighting over something ridiculous. This included many fact-finding Google missions together that (not) surprisingly resulted in BOTH Orlando AND Ricardo even more convinced that they were correct.
Thanksgiving 2009 ~ Spent in Korea. We won't have much of a celebration, if any. This makes me both homesick and reminded of how much I do have to be thankful for.
As I said, today's blog will be focused on Thanksgiving 2005 ~ the first Thanksgiving Daniel and I had as a married couple. We had such high expectations for this Thanksgiving. This was to be the "parade the new wife around the family" Thanksgiving. I was supposed to meet Daniel's awesome grandpa and aunts and uncles and cousins and all that. As you can probably already tell, this was not what wound up happening.
Daniel and I put all our junk in Bob (our little Scion xa we'd recently acquired). We mapped out the trip. We'd decided that our best bet was to go from Madison, WI up north through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, then down through the glove to Alpena. We timed it just right for our arrival. We loaded Anners, our cute little muttley, into the car. We set off into the evening on our journey.
The drive was going incredibly smoothly. Annie was the best car-trip dog you could ever imagine. Give that punkley a pillow and put her no further than 4 feet away from her people, and she's set. We had the maps and the coats and everything we needed to brave Michigan in late November. We drove and drove, stopping in Green Bay at one point and stopping at the Brett Favre (I think?) McDonald's that was a stone's throw away from the stadium. We kept driving on into the night, hoping to make it up through the Upper Peninsula before we got too tired. We finally got into the UP, and things were going just swimmingly.
We were following the little highway 2 through the UP. We made it to Escanaba pretty easily. A little while after that, we encountered our first Lake Effect Snow. We were in the middle of this crazy swirling white blackness. It was like nothing I've ever seen. We were moving along at about 2 inches an hour, trying our hardest not to freak out (okay, so that was just me). Every now and then, we would be passed by an SUV that seemed to think nothing was going on at all. We finally decided to stop at a hotel when we realized we'd gone 2 miles in the last 20 minutes. We pulled over to a little Comfort Inn at the side of the road. We came in, and the desk person gave us their last hotel room. The tiny hotel was packed to the gills with holiday travelers that had been stranded in this tiny town. We were SO thankful that it was a pet-friendly hotel. We grabbed a few things from the car and headed in to our room.
In the morning, we looked out and saw a sea of white. There was snow EVERYWHERE, piled higher than I would have thought possible. We realized for the first time that we were literally right across the street from Lake Michigan. While we were driving, we were hugging the lake the whole time, and I had no idea! We saw that some parts of the road had been cleared, and the sky was pretty clear as well. We decided we would pack up and try again. When we went down to check out, the desk dude said, "Are you sure you want to go anywhere?" As it turns out, the snow the night before was horrible. The highways in the UP had been closed a little further ahead because there were too many fatalities.
We decided that it was too important for us to get to Alpena to give up at 6 am. We thanked them, checked out, and headed off down the road.
We made it about 5 miles ~ TOPS ~ when the snow hit. It was the same as the night before ~ insane, blinding snow. We couldn't see a foot out the windows. Everything was so white! We turned around and headed back to the hotel after we realized it was too dangerous to continue. Almost the second we'd turned around, the snow stopped. It completely disappeared! We said, "Okay, let's try again." We turned around and made it maybe a mile before the snow hit full force AGAIN! We tried this again and again, failing each time. Finally, when we realized we'd been covering the same mile or so for an hour, we decided to go back to the hotel and stay there for Thanksgiving. When we got back, the desk person chuckled and said that we could have our room back ~ they hadn't even bothered to clean it when we left.
We got back to the room, put our stuff in, and tried to figure out what to do. After all, it was Thanksgiving! We couldn't just do nothing to celebrate! Unfortunately, almost everything was closed down. It was too dangerous for people to drive to work.
Daniel and I did what every sane person would do. We went to the gas station next door and got our Thanksgiving dinner.
This was the menu for Thanksgiving 2005: Turkey (tortilla chips). Stuffing (salsa). Sweet potatoes (graham crackers). Gravy (peanut butter). Pumpkin pie (a giant hershey's kiss). We then finished off Thanksgiving in style by watching a 24-hour marathon of "Deadliest Catch". (Thank you, cable TV!)
The next morning, completely defeated by the Upper Peninsula, we packed our things and headed back to Madison. It was a sad Thanksgiving, but certainly a memorable one.
This year, we're going to brave the UP at the end of December. Hopefully I will NOT have another blog entry like this one.


  1. So, your Thanksgiving, 2005 ! I applaud the two of you, and your ingenuity and creative thinking ~ probably remembering the old adage "If at first you don't succeed.....". Great story!

    Which only goes to prove another WONDERFUL OLD ADAGE ~ ~ no matter what happens, as long as the two of you are together, all will work out well ! :-)