What’s your most memorable holiday travel experience?

Weather reports are suggesting a major storm may hit our area just in time to interfere with holiday travel plans. What’s your most memorable holiday travel experience?

  • Janice

    Driving 40mph all the way from Madison to MPLS on our way home from Michigan last year. Sleet and Ice covered roads. What should have been a 13 hour trip became 16. Praying for safer roads this year!

  • Laura

    I was on a year-long study abroad program in Berlin. My holiday plans were to stay put, but at the last minute, my family found inexpensive flights to Barcelona and decided we would meet there for Christmas in leiu of presents. My brother (also in college at the time) flew to Berlin and we took a week getting down to Barcelona to meet my parents and sister. The night before meeting my family at the airport (before the advent of cell phones), we hopped a night train. It was one of those trains that stops in the middle of the night and splits. As young unexperienced travellers, we were on the wrong end and woke up somewhere in France! We barely got to the airport in time to meet the rest of our family. I’m not sure how we would have found each other otherwise! (side note–I had bleached and dyed my dark brown hair into a bright red ala Lola Rennt in true Berlin style. The first words of out my mother’s mouth when she saw me were “Oh it’s my little clown!”)

  • stacey

    It was a snowy Christmas Eve in Bemidji, I was four years old and my memory of the situation is based on my parents’ recollection. My parents, myself and my father’s mother were driving home from a Christmas Eve celebration at my Mom’s mother’s house.

    There, stuck in the ditch, was a little blue car. Climbing out of the little car was SANTA!! My dad pulled over to help, but the old blue truck only had 2 wheel drive. So, he quickly brought my grandma, mom and me home and returned to Santa’s rescue with our old Jeep, freeing the stuck ‘sleigh’.

    Santa tried to give my dad money for his help, but, of course, he couldn’t accept money from Santa, especially on Christmas Eve. Santa then offered to take time out of the busiest night of the year to come to our house to wish me a Merry Christmas. I clung to my mom’s leg silently until he left, at which point I started glowing and excitedly retelling the story.

    We never did find out who that magical Santa was :)

  • Amanda Kelly

    New Year’s Eve 2006 – Driving through Nebraska in the middle of an ice storm. We’re talking INCHES of ice on the road. I’ve never seen so many jack-knifed semi’s and spun-out cars in my life. We should NOT have been out on the road that day. Just glad we made it home safe.

  • Ben

    Probably a last year ago having to drive from Billings, MT (where i go to college) to go home to the Twin Cities for Christmas… North Dakota decided to snow and blow so hard I couldn’t see much more than a foot off my bumper. The high beams made it worse so the only lights I used that didn’t illuminate all the snow flying at me was my fog lights. This year I’m making the same drive, but going from the weather reports I’m leaving this afternoon…

  • Gary

    I will always recall the year my parents decided to take the family up to Billings (Ben, hope your at the rock, not that other school) to a movie. We all piled into the suburban to make the 100 mile journey. The weather was clear and travel was good. It had started to snow while we were watching the movie so we returned home immediately after. I remember it was dark, and nearly impossible to see. My mother constantly was telling my father what he was doing wrong and how to drive. Dad constantly pulled over to find the lines on the road. The weather was just too bad and we went into the ditch. Nobody was out, but eventually a van pulled up and offered the whole family a ride. You could almost see the smoke roll out the door when they opened it. Mom was nervous about traveling with them, but Dad didn’t see any other options. We were still about 30 miles from home but they took us all the way there. One of the guys kept saying, “BRRRR, Its cold out there.” He said this with a slightly southern drawl, and he must have said it 20 times during that trip. Nobody else spoke a word. Now whenever someone talks about the weather being cold, and they say, “BRRRR,” all my siblings will chime in and say in unison with our best southern drawl, “Its cold out there.”

  • Marilyn

    It was in an old Chevy, years ago, when we made the trip from Morris MN to Bemidji for Christmas: dad, mom, four kids, large dog. One Christmas, my dad turned off the highway into Itasca State Park, and drove well into the park. It was after dark and snowing lightly. He slowed down, stopped the car, and turned off the key. We sat in silence for a moment. Then, we rolled down the windows — yes, the “old days”, with crank-down windows. We sang “Silent Night” into the cold Christmas air. We got to grandma’s OK, to the clamour of Christmas with the cousins. But that was truly the Christmas Moment.

  • Beth

    Our daughter was 2-1/2 months old and we were driving from Hibbing to Iowa Falls, IA (normally a 6-hour drive) for Christmas. We battled snow south of the cities with fewer and fewer vehicles on the road and more and more of them in the ditch. With white knuckles, we exited at Hampton, IA, 8-1/2 hours into the trip, and just 30 miles north of “home.” State troopers closed the ramps to and from I-35 right behind us. We were within 15 miles or so of my parents’ house when we hit the wall of snow. There was nothing but white as far as the eye could see and even though we were young and daring, my husband was afraid his in-laws (not to mention his own parents) would disown him if he continued to fight that snowstorm on a country road with a Toyota Camry and a tiny baby inside. We ended up staying in Hampton, and my husband was quite relieved to find a hotel with a liquor store right across the street.

  • Mike

    Driving home from the Twin Cities to Rochester with our 6 year old son and 4 year old daughter on Christmas Eve. Their eyes constantly switching back and forth at the car’s digital thermometer and searching for Rudolph’s nose. One would yell “Twenty-eight below” and the other “there he is” as a red light was found in the night sky. “Thirty below!” “There he is!! It’s not too cold !” Worry and excitement filled our car. We finally made it home at 31 below with great confidence Santa would make it through.

  • Jessica Sundheim

    As a traveling story goes, mine is a bit incredible, but my friends and my family are finally starting to believe me, now that they’ve heard it for the last sixteen years. I had made a last minute decision to ride a Greyhound bus from Minneapolis to Tennessee on Christmas Eve to visit my mom, step-dad and siblings. I’d moved back to Minnesota the middle of my Junior year to live with my grandma and I hadn’t seen my family for a year.

    I was seventeen and a little nervous. I had three bus changes to make. I woudln’t sleep for 26 hours. Safety was an issue until the guy in the first seat turned around and asked me where I was headed. He was older and huge, as in tall and broad shouldered! He had a scar (sort of like Frankenstein) on his head because he’d had surgery. I told him where I was headed and he changed seats… to the one next to mine. At first I dug through my bag for my book (why hadn’t I stuck my nose in a book like I had planned?), but it was too late.

    Traveling from Washington state to South Carolina (to see his mom) the man hadn’t taken a shower since he’d gotten on the bus. For the rest of the trip NO BODY messed with me. He ended up being one of the most interesting, wonderful people I’ve ever met. He talked from Minneapolis through to Bristol, Tennessee, which is where I had to leave off. By the time we got through Chicago we already knew one another’s short bios and before we drove out of Illinois we had inside jokes. When we made change overs he insisted on helping me with my bags. I could tell he wan’t in the best shape but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. It’s probably wierd, but when the bus pulled off into the Bristol station, it was hard to say goodbye. Part of it was due to not knowing what I was in for with my family, but mostly it was hard because people like that down come into one’s life often and I had lived just long enough to know that.

    He never said it, but he was obviously sick. I think he was going home to South Carolina to die. I hope the miracle that Christmas is that he didn’t. I hope he made it home and survived. David, if you’re out there I have one thing to say to you…”BAGELS!”

  • anotherbob

    My wife and I have had several hair-raising holiday road trips, but the worst was a few years ago when we slid off of ice-covered 35E..

    Fortunately, we stayed upright, and didn’t hit or get hit by any other vehicles. And because we were in a 4WD SUV, we managed to extricate ourselves from the 18″ deep snow in the ditch and continue on our way (crazy us!).

  • Wendy L.

    Christmas Eve 1980 or 1981.

    When I was four or five, we drove to Christmas Eve Mass in a whiteout. We followed a car all the way to town that had one red tail light and I was convinced we were following Rudolph! It was exciting for me as a little kid!

  • Jessica

    I am from Billings, MT and have made the trip from Mpls to Billings and back many times in poor weather and with the interstate being closed behind us or having to pull off because it was closed in front of us.

    However, my most memorable holiday trip was when my parents decided that we should DRIVE to Mexico (from Bilings) for Christmas. I was 12, my sister was 8 and my brother was 14. The drive to Mexico was long enough, but once we got into Mexico, with our minivan and pop-up trailer, it was like entering a new world. We got pulled over by police officers asking for money, we had to stop for 2 hours to allow a herd of longhorns to cross the road. Once we made it to our campground, there were other Americans, but we were still in no resort town. On christmas eve, the locals invited us to church and afterwards they had a pig roast and we had tamales cooked over an open fire in a metal drum. On christmas morning, we passed out Oreos to the dirty children that came begging…. they were so thankful for the cookies. I wish we would have had more to give them.

    Christmas was always a time for our family to go exploring, I’ve spent Christmas morning at a truck stop in Colorado, a gas station in Texas, a camp ground in California (we went to Disney Land that day!), and a campground in Mexico and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

  • Craig

    On Christmas Eve, 1983, my wife and I were driving our 1983 Buick Century from the Twin Cities to Austin, MN to visit my parents. We had our son along, who was 11 months old at the time.

    The weather report had indicated snow and high winds, but as we left the TC, everything was fine, the roads were clear. When we left I-35 to proceed south on Highway 218, it was a different matter, though. The wind blew fine snow up into the engine compartment of the Buick and the car would stall every so often. When it stalled, we would have to sit and wait awhile and then it would start again.

    As we got down toward Blooming Prairie, the car stalled again. We sat in the car, off on the southbound side of 218. As we waited, a Volkswagen Rabbit flew by and then stopped a couple of hundred feet past where we were sitting. I fully expected the Rabbit to back up and for the driver to check on how we were doing. Instead, the driver of the Rabbit got out of his car, put his hood up and started tinkering.

    I bundled up, got out of the car and was blown down the road by the high winds. When I got to the Rabbit, I could hardly hear him over the wind. And when I opened my mouth to talk the wind sucked the air from my lungs and replaced it with icicles. I found out that he had a bad battery post and his car had stopped after hitting a snowdrift. I turned and fought my way back against the blizzard wind and snow until I got to my car.

    I tried it and it started. So, I headed out, picking up the driver of the Rabbit on the way. We dropped him at his family’s house in Blooming Prairie and accepted an offer to warm up and use their telephone to call my parents. I told my father that we were heading out from Blooming Prairie and if we did not arrive in an hour, for a fifteen minute trip, they should come looking for us.

    A few miles out of Blooming Prairie, driving south in the northbound lane because of the snowdrifts covering half the road, the car stalled again. This time, when a van full of people heading to Austin stopped to check on us, I sent my wife and son on with them. I stayed with the car.

    I got the car started after a short while and headed out again. But, after a few more miles, the car stalled yet again. By this time, the traffic was nonexistent and I sat in my car, occasionally trying to get it started. The howling wind sucked the residual heat from the vehicle in a few minutes and the windows were frosted over and even though I was dressed for a Minnesota winter with parka, gloves and hat, I was getting very cold.

    I peered out the frosted windshield, through the blowing snow and saw a house several hundred yards away. I remembered the warnings about staying with your car in situations like this and not trying to navigate on foot in a blizzard, but I was getting really cold. I was going to have to try to get to the house because I would not last much longer in the car.

    Just then, I saw a 1972 Buick LeSabre, a big boat of a car, burst through a snowdrift and pull up alongside. It was my father. He had waited the hour and had talked to my wife when she arrived, so he had an idea of how far I might have gotten. We moved my car to the side of the highway, in an area protected from the worst of the wind, and then we headed to Austin. The big Buick had no problem getting through the snowdrifts and we soon arrived at my parents’ house.

    The next morning, a bright, blue, clear and cold Christmas morning, my Dad, brothers and I headed out to retrieve my car. As we drove north on Highway 218, we saw many cars drifted in up to their rooftops. One pickup truck, parked at the end of a side road, was only visible because of the tip of its antenna sticking out of the snowbank. I could only hope that the driver made it safely to their home.

    We reached my car, which was not drifted in due to being in the spot protected from the wind. I tried to start it, but it refused, so we towed it to my parents’ house. We tried several times to get the car started, but it wouldn’t. I had to have the car towed to a Buick dealership in St. Paul where they finally got it started after replacing some parts in the ignition and electrical system.

    If I had stayed on I-35 to I-90, I probably would have had no difficulty on the trip. But, I learned the difference between a two lane state highway and an Interstate during a blizzard and I also learned to look at the weather all along my route and not just at my starting point.