Sunday, December 28, 2008


Not that anyone knew I was gone! LOL. My family traveled to stay with my parents during the past few days and we got home about four or five hours ago. We came home to a nice 2 - 3 inch layer of snow to blow (on top of a nice, slick sheet of pure ice) with my Spirit snowblower! Yay, just what I wanted to do today!

Anyway, it was great to see my parents. My dad had a stroke in October, and is recovering well. My dad 'retired' as a full time pastor over a decade ago, but that didn't mean for an instant that he stopped doing what he does! He became the "part-time" pastor of a small country church, and has been doing that for the past ten years. As the people down there always tell me, he's not a "part time" pastor for the church. He's always doing what he does, being who he is, and I suspect he never ever had any sort of "time card." :) Anyway... my mom had previously told me that my dad planned on 'retiring' from this church next spring, but with the stroke and all, he decided to do it at the end of this year, which is, of course, upon us.

The sad thing is that he wasn't able to take the service on Christmas Day, so my mom (also a retired pastor) took it for him, and he was also not able to do his final service this morning (which we weren't able to be there for), so my mom also did that. Everyone understood, of course.

Now... if we'd have known what the weather was going to do, we'd have stayed there one more day and would have been there for the final service! We started out yesterday in very pleasant 70º weather (just southwest of St. Louis). We headed up north about half an hour, and the skies were looking VERY dark. It became very, very windy and a bit rainy. I decided to go back to the town we'd just gone through and wait things out. Turns out a tornado hit just a few miles away! Well, after a bit, we got going again and mostly ran into rain, but the winds had died down, thankfully. Onward to Iowa, and we began seeing all the snow we had left behind a few days before.

The temperature had been dropping all throughout our trip. Rain was still coming down lightly, and as we got just south of Iowa City (75 miles from home), the temp was 32º (0ºC - freezing), and we had heard that there would be light, icy rain. It was indeed light, but it was enough to cause some HUGE problems! We were driving along as normal, but then suddenly I felt as if our van had just slid a little to the side. I let off the gas, and slowed down, and I noticed us sliding a tiny bit more. Very quickly, the other vehicles around us slowed down. All within 30 seconds, we dropped from a comfortable 70 mph to a very scary 30 - 40 mph. Then, even at that speed, we were sliding, so I had to drop down to 20 - 30 mph --- on the interstate!

Such a short distance to get home - but yet so FAR with all this ice. Suddenly we saw a pickup on the other side of the interstate go off into the median and almost onto our side. We then knew this weather was NOT for us to be driving in! We passed one exit to Iowa City, but then on the next one I pulled off, very slowly. It then took us almost 15 minutes to drive three miles to the nearest motel! Cars were sliding all over the place, even in town.

But... we arrived at a motel, and we were safe for the night. And... they had Douwe Egberts DELICIOUS coffee out in the lobby! Mmmmm... and Ahhhhh... The evening also turned out to be such a fun time for the kids! After we got settled, we slid (walked) over to a nearby restaurant, Old Chicago, and the food was absolutely splendiferous! I had a nice, relaxing beer before the meal came (they only had 110 to choose from), and we played along with a trivia game that was on some of the TV screens. Just down the street from us, the Iowa Hawkeye basketball team was beginning a home game, and so we watched that on TV at the restaurant. It was my little girl, Noelle's eighth birthday and she said it was her best birthday ever! They brought her a Little Big Cookie and some ice cream for dessert, and we all shared that.

Then, back to the motel for some more fun, just kickin' back and watching TV, etc, watching the weather reports. Yeah, back to the weather. It was absolutely terrible out. Lots of accidents and vehicles in ditches. When we checked out this morning and got back on the highway, there were still lots and lots of cars in the ditches from last night. I'd estimate that in the 75 miles we drove, we saw at least 30 vehicles in the ditches. We saw one semi that had slid into a very shallow ditch and we saw a U-Haul-type truck (at least 26') on its side in the median. On a couple of the deeper ditches, that go waaaay down there, we saw some cars as well. THAT would've been scary! I'm so glad we just decided to stay in Iowa City for the night. I was supposed to work today, and my wife Tracey was supposed to work at church (which is why we planned on coming home yesterday), but we called and got substitutes.

Anyway... I'm glad to have been able to spend some time with my parents during Christmas, and I'm glad to be home safe and sound! There are 139 unread blog posts in my feedreader. I'll get caught up soon... NOT! I'm just gonna clear 'em and start fresh! Hope y'all don't mind! Happy belated Christmas to all!


  1. Hey Joel, Anne and I are glad you are back, and glad you are not in a ditch, especially one of the "way down there" ones LOL. I for one don't mind if you wipe them all out and start fresh, after all, none of them are mine ROFL! Merry belated Christmas to you and your family, and we hope your New Year is spectacular!

  2. MAN! That sounds fun! You're a master driver, Joel. Can I be your padawan?

    Seriously, that sounds like a great trip!! Glad you were all safe. :)

  3. I'm glad what must have been a bittersweet trip home ended safely and with a celebration. From valley to mountaintop, He's keeping us. Blessings on you and yours, Joel.

    I won't tell if you save mine to read. Ahahaha! :P

  4. Welcome back Joel! I did notice your blog posts have been sparse. Not as sparse as mine though :)

  5. Hey, little brother! I worried enough about you last year with all of the bad Iowa weather and we can’t do it again this year. I’m just glad you’re back home safe and sound and had a good visit with your parents.

    I’ve noticed that you’ve been scarce around here lately but so have I so I wasn’t sure if it was you or me. BTW, I thought you were deleting some blogs from your feedreader but it looks like they’re multiplying again. They have a way of doing that, don’t they?

    Anyway, I’m glad you and your family had a nice time at the motel. Father has a way of giving us those unexpected gifts and I think it was neat that it was also a birthday present for your daughter.

  6. Hey all. Yeah it was good to be 'disconnected' (sort of disconnected, anyway) for a few days, but I missed everybody! I was able to use a computer while I was gone, but I mostly stayed away.


    Ok, I promise I won't read all your posts from the past few days. :)


    A couple of years ago I came up with an estimate of the number of miles I've driven on my job since 1994, taking into consideration the average amount of daily miles I drive, and the various routes I've done, etc. I came up with 300,000 miles! I'm (self)-trained to drive in all sorts of weather! Sure, I'll train you... LOL! Really, though, this 70º weather with high winds, thunderstorms and tornadoes, and then 30-32º and icy rain that turned the roads into a skating rink - all within 4 hours - made this the craziest driving day of my life!

    RJW and Aida,

    Indeed it was a bittersweet trip, but it really did turn unexpectedly into a very sweet blessing! After the initial scare of the bad stormy weather in Missouri and the icy roads in Iowa, and we got settled in the motel and went over to the restaurant to eat, both kids kept going on and on about how this had been such a great Christmas and a great vacation, and I think the night at the motel really topped things off for them!


    I'll have to do something about the sparsity over here. LOL. And Aida, I still have my feedreader cut down... but yeah, still too many! It's hard enough keeping up one day at a time, but when I'm gone for a few days, it's absolutely impossible... :)

  7. Hey Joel,

    Welcome back!!
    Hope you know you were missed!

    Sounds like you had a great adventure of a vacation, and fun times with the family to remember. Glad you made it thru the wacky weather; sounds like you are the master-driver. Maybe I could get some of those driving lessons from you. I'm betting it helps to keep 2 hands on the wheel at all times. I'll have to work on that. :)

    Good to see you back "up and running"!

  8. Joel - Glad you are back! We had our portion of ice here in Detroit last week. I had to pick my mom-in-law from the airport and on the way I counted a minimum of 20 accidents in a 35 mile span on the interstate. I was very careful since I already had an accident on the snow this year and my car is not even fixed. The dents and broken break lambs reminds me of the dangerous on the snow so I slow down. :) This year the weather is unusually varying here - snow, icy rain, flood, wind etc and now as I type this there are 200,000 people out of power in the city due to yesterdays high wind.

  9. Free Spirit,

    Maybe you guys (you and Matthew) are onto something! I wonder how much I could charge for driving lessons! With my 300,000+ miles on my resume, people would pay in the thousands probably!!!

    Or like most people already do, they would just say, "You're crazy, please go away, you're bothering me."


    I heard about all the people without power! That's a terrible ordeal.

    The weather has just been weird during the past couple of years. Up till last winter, things had been fairly mild, with only a few really bad driving days during each winter. But last winter was terrible, and today somebody pointed out to me that in just this last month, I've driven in just about all imaginable 'bad' weather! - Fog, thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, rain, ice, snow...

    I'm just waiting for it to start raining cats and dogs!

  10. Gee I didn't realize he was gone...

  11. That's funny... I didn't realize you were here. =D

  12. Reread hard copy this morning, cool how it worked out for you daughters best birthday so far...

  13. Yep, Leonard, in this life in Christ there are often nice surprises around various corners. :)