On Saturday, December 11, I graduated with my Master of Science degree from Minnesota State University-Mankato. I must take the opportunity to thank my supportive and loving husband for helping me accomplish this goal. He willingly helped pay for my graduate degree, he lovingly encouraged me through hours of homework and projects, and he thoughtlessly served me by taking care of the details of our life while I was so busy. This past week we were remembering that I have been working on grad school for the past two and a half years. We could not even remember what life was like before I had classes to complete. We made it!
To some of you, December 11th has another significance. It is the date of one of the Top 10 snowfalls in the Twin Cities. I started hearing about the blizzard on Thursday night. My mom, dad, brother, and sister-in-law were all planning to come to Minnesota for graduation celebrations. I called my mom to warn her about the snow.
Once everyone arrived on Friday night, we found this notice from Mankato State. We looked into getting a hotel for the night but decided to sleep in our comfortable beds and leave at 6:30 am Saturday morning in hopes of making it to campus for the Department of Education’s hooding ceremony at 9 am. My dad and Jesse awoke and shoveled the first 7 inches of snow. All six of us piled into one car and set off. On the drive to Mankato (81 miles), we were met with unplowed highways and blowing snow. At 9:10 am we ran into the Performing Arts Center slipping and sliding through the parking lot on the ice beneath the snow. My family sat down and I ran onto the stage for my hooding. We made it!
After the ceremony an administrative assistant helped us map a route to the graduation ceremony through the academic buildings of campus, but we had to cross one street to find the tunnels. With our first steps out of the building, we were slipping, sliding and falling on the ice. We turned a corner up to the building, and the wind and snow almost blew us over. Laughing and joking, we found the Taylor Center and attended the ceremony. We made it!
After the ceremony, we all piled back into the car for the drive home. Driving through the streets of Mankato were treacherous, and we left behind cars and trucks spinning their wheels. Once on the highway, we traveled at a slow 30 miles per hour. We caught up with a caravan of cars and attempted to travel with them. My dad had Jesse and I in the front seat as spotters. Every minute he asked, “Where am I?” Based on the few pieces of the road we could see we would answer left lane or right lane. The snow continued and the wind picked up. Many times my dad would ask, “Where am I?” and Jesse and I didn’t even have an answer. We couldn’t see the road, we couldn’t see the caravan of cars, we couldn’t see anything.
I did see a sign for a hotel 2 miles ahead. We saw the hotel but saw no way to get to the hotel. We decided to take the next exit. Getting off on the exit, our car got stuck in the snow. We could not even see roads to turn on to head in the direction of the hotel. We stopped in a turn lane to decide what to do. An angel in the form of a tow truck pulled up alongside us. We shouted AmericInn out the window. He replied, “Follow me”. He lead us through “streets” a foot deep in snow but we continued on knowing if we got stuck he could pull us out. With gale force winds blowing us down, we ran from the parking lot into the hotel. We made it!
I explained that we had six people. A woman at the desk let me know there were two king bed rooms available. The woman next to her was on the phone explaining that they had two rooms available. The person helping me looked at me and asked, “Do you want the rooms?” I replied yes and the person on the phone was out of luck. We got the last two rooms in the hotel. Later my dad asked, “How much did I end up paying for these rooms?”
We went to our rooms and collapsed for a rest. Thankfully, the hotel had a family restaurant across the parking lot. We spent the evening enjoying dinner and watching the movie The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. We slept boys in one room, girls in the other.
This morning we set out for Eagan only to find more unplowed roads and a driveway covered with 4 foot drifts. The boys shoveled a path and we were home. The snow storm total in the area where we were was 20.5 inches. We made it!
Our adventure and detours this weekend add another story to our crazy family memories. Thank you mom and dad for your dedication and encouragement. Thank you Eric and Alaina for your support and sacrifice. I love you! We made it!