The Road Trip from Hell

This is a compensated review from BlogHer and the Shell Family of Cards.

One of our most memorable road trips happened in the dead of winter, during our annual trip to Lake Tahoe. The closest town to Hwy. 80, Truckee, is only about 215 miles from Palo Alto, which means we can get to our favorite Soda Springs Resort in about 3.5 hours (and just over 3 hours if we're lucky with traffic, and ignore all bathroom and snack stop requests). The day before our trip we checked the weather forecasts, only to be greeted with snowstorm warnings. We had already rescheduled this trip twice because of bad weather, and I was absolutely crushed. I refused to believe Tahoe could have three straight weekends with hellish weather, and I pulled a mini tantrum. We won't have any winter weekends left! I'll have rebook the hotel again! We're going! All those skiers and snowboarders go every weekend, don't they? It'll be fine, it's just a warning...... Against his better judgment, Alfie agreed to go ahead with it.

All was good until we began the last leg of the journey, winding up the mountains of the Sierra Nevada. Snow started falling almost as soon as we hit 3,000 feet, and it kept on snowing all night. We slowed to a turtle's pace, and it wasn't just because everyone had put on their snow chains. No, it was because we couldn't see a thing. The wipers were almost useless; thick blankets of snow covered the windshield seconds after the wipers wiped the previous batch away. The road was thick with fresh, crunchy snow. There was no way we could travel at more than 10 or 15 miles per hour.

That trip ended up taking over 6 hours, at least 3 of which were spent driving in traffic or ridiculously heavy snow . But surprise, surprise: I wasn't stressed out. I didn't spend those 3 hourse cursing the weather or the other drivers or my stupid decision. We were too busy enjoying ourselves, listening to Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code on the cd player. It was dark and quiet, and the kids were all sleeping peacefully in the back seat, so we could actually listen to the story without being interrupted by their pleas for crackers and entertainment and banishment of siblings to the far ends of the earth. I had read the book a couple of weeks before, but listening to the story read out loud really brought it to life. We would often pause the track to reminisce about places we've been to and beautiful buildings we've seen in France and England, prompted by Dan Brown's descriptions. Or we'd pause again to launch into an argument prompted by his take on Opus Dei, corruption in the Catholic Church, suppressed alternative religions, or some other topic we agree to disagree on. We had all the time in the world, and even with all those pauses, we finished the entire novel.

It was wonderful! Outside, the snowfall was fresh and powdery-white, not slushy and dirty like the stuff you usually see on the side of the road. Inside, it was just Alfie and me, with no television, no internet, no phone or any other distractions that usually push Alfie and myself into separate rooms to do our own separate thing once the kids fall asleep. Fortunately, we were safe and warm and running on a full tank of gas; otherwise, I would have been way too stressed to enjoy that last part of the trip. (In retrospect, I would probably tuck a prepaid gas card like the Shell Refillable Card or Shell Gift Card in the glove compartment, just in case we forget to fill up and need the cash in our wallets for food and drinks. I did a quick check on Google Maps, and it looks like there are about 45 or so Shell gas stations just off our highway route from Palo Alto to Tahoe!). As it was, a trip that could have become a hellish nightmare turned into a pleasant evening reconnecting with Alfie.

Alfie still teases me about the time I insisted on driving up to Tahoe in the middle of a snowstorm. And when I'm being particularly stubborn or irrational about something, he likes to ask me whether this is going to be "another Tahoe snowstorm tantrum thing". I smile and say, ha, ha, but if a snowstorm is what it takes for me to get a date night with my husband, then bring on the white stuff and let's get in the car!

More about Shell cards. The Shell family of cards is great for Summer road trips. For a limited time only, Shell is offering a return of 30 cents per gallon on the first 100 gallons purchased with a Shell Card within a 90-day period. The promotional savings is available at all Shell-branded stations nationwide for those who sign up and are approved for a new Shell Card from June 29, 2009 to September 30, 2009.

I'd love to hear about your own travels! Leave a comment here with a link to your favorite travel post, and I'll go and comment on it. I'll bet you could use a Shell card for your road trip, whether it be one like mine, one like some of the other BlogHer reviewers' road trips (read all about their road stories here!), or a road trip that's totally your own. Check out the Shell family of cards to see which one is right for your road trip.

I was compensated for this BlogHer Review by the Shell Gas Card, but the views and opinions expressed here are my own.

13 comments, leave yours here:

Marie on August 21, 2009 at 7:39 PM said...

Here's my post:

We took a week long trip to the island of Nantucket, off of Cape Cod, Mass. It was great! Perfect weather, lots of time at the beach. Gotta love it!

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