"Hi!" The door opened and we were greeted effusively by our relatives - an aunt, two uncles and a grandfather. My mother in law was visiting relatives in California, and her presence this Christmas break was sorely missed.
We settled in, and the babies took out their basket of toys. We sat down to dinner. Usually we stayed the entire day, but as the snow thickened, it became apparent we would need to make a decision.
"I think we should head out," my husband said.
"Oh, no! You can't!" said his sister. "Look at it out there! You must stay."
I had packed a bag for the babies in case we shouldn't be able to make it back.
"Well, we'll try it, anyway, and if we can't make it, we'll come back and stay the night," he said.
And off we went, just over two hours after we'd arrived. The winds had picked up and the snow fell rapidly from the sky, flying in all directions. The snow on the ground wafted up in circles and waves, covering the car and skewing visibility. The roads seemed okay as we set off for the highway.
We decided to take the long route, down toward the coast of Rhode Island and then back up through Connecticut. Surely the highways would be our best bet. An hour passed. It began to get dark. The snow was blinding now. The babies, still, blissfully silent.
Then, suddenly it seemed, the road disappeared. The four-lane highway on which we were driving became indistinguishable from the ground on either side. It was all one white plain. We could barely see six feet in front of us. I leaned toward my window, squinting to see street signs as they passed, to be sure we were still travelling forward, and that we were still on the road.
There was one other car up ahead of us. Every few minutes it would falter, then slow to a halt.
"What is this guy doing?" my husband asked.
"We can only see so well because he's in front of us," I replied. "He can't see anything at all."
We followed that car closely for a long while. Finally, we couldn't deny the inevitable any longer. We had to pull off the highway. We had to find a place to stay for the night. We'd been traveling at 10 miles an hour for more than an hour, and we'd been on the road at least three hours. We were not even halfway home.
At the next exit, we prepared to turn off. The car in front of us did the same.
The sign pointed in either direction. We chose left. The car in front of us did the same. We then had to follow streets signs for a few miles and go through multiple turns before we saw the hotel looming before us. There should be a rule against advertising lodging off the highway if it's more than five miles off the highway.
In order to pull into the driveway, we had to slowly inch down a steep hill, then hit the gas and lurch up an incline. We pulled into a spot in front. We had lost the car in front of us.
We opened the doors to bitingly cold gusts of wind, propelling snow into our car and into our sleeping babies' faces. The gales were so strong they almost knocked me over as I stood by the car in my boot heels, leaning over the seat to unstrap my little one. We ran with them to the hotel, which was only 15 feet away. By the time we reached the doors, we were soaked, windblown and freezing. We set the babies down and went to the desk.
There in front of us stood another family. A European father, an American mother, and a pair of twins. Four years old.
A European father, an American mother, and a pair of twins.
It was us.
"Were you the car up ahead of us that whole time?" my husband asked in his English accent.
"Oh, yes, that was us. You must have been the car right behind?" the other man answered, in his English accent. "Twins?"
We got a room key and asked about any dinner accommodations. The young man behind the counter said they didn't provide dinner at the hotel, but they did have a continental breakfast. He was putting some food out for other families caught in the storm. Would we care to have some of that?
Less than ten minutes later, we were sitting in front of a spread of muffins, milk, juice, yogurt, bagels and waffles. The dining room was almost full with other families eating their odd dinner as well. The babies were having a ball. A bite of this, a sip of that, more juice, more juice! It was almost fun.
One of the four-year-old twins spoke to her parents.
"Ooh! A pool! Mommy, a pool."
"Yes, but we can't go swimming because we don't have suits."
"Oh...well...we could if we...borrowed suits!"
It was as if looking at my kids in the future.
Back in our hotel room, we took a bath, watched a movie and attempted to sleep on beds far too high off the ground for little ones.
The next day at breakfast, we saw our future selves again. We headed out before them and waved goodbye.
It just goes to show that two-year-old toddlers can pull off adventure just as well as anyone else.
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