My Road Trip to Chicago

In 1994 my mother passed away following a long battle with cancer. She was a college professor and her students loved her. Many students from Harold Washington College who had voted her “Distinguished Professor” that year, attended the funeral and shared heartfelt stories of how she had helped them stay in school, encouraged them, and impacted their lives. The college set up a scholarship in her name, and asked us to attend the fundraiser.

The sentiment of those students made my sister and decide to attend the fundraiser to show our appreciation. My sister, Gaby had driven to Chicago from Los Angeles many times with her friends and she said that it was an “easy drive”, so Gaby, Jacquie and I packed our bags and set out on what we thought would be a fun-filled time of bonding.

It was April, 1995 and the weather in L.A. was beautiful. I drove first and made it through California,
Gaby drove the second leg, and Jacquie drove the third leg in Colorado. Everything was going fine until we got to Aspen. I wasn’t paying much attention and we ended up going around some very tight curves in icy snow on a mountain.

Earlier in the drive I had been listening to gospel music and Jacquie had asked if we could hear something else. Suddenly she was asking me to put it back on and humming along. It was then that Jacquie told us that she had never driven in the snow, and this was icy snow!

I should have known better! Years earlier I had gone car shopping with Jacquie, and she bought an adorable little Honda with stick shift. After she purchased it I had to drive it to her house because she had never driven a stick!.

My first thought was for her to pull over and let me drive, but there was nowhere to pull over or stop without potentially getting hit, so we had to grit out teeth and pray. It seemed like an eternity as we slipped, slided and skidded our way down that mountain. It was definitely an “E Ticket” ride.

Once we made it down the hill we learned that the roads were closed and we had to stay overnight in Aspen. Aspen is not cheap so we were concerned that we wouldn’t have enough money to stay overnight, and in that weather sleeping in the car was out of the question. Thank God that the hotels were giving discount rates due to the weather. Thank God for vending machines!

In the morning the roads were clear enough to be re-opened so we continued on our way. We made it to Chicago, but after enduring the nightmare of getting there we mapped out a return route without few turns or any mountains. It took twice as long but we didn’t care.

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