It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas … advice if you’re driving home for winter break

I have certainly been enjoying the “Indian Summer” we all have been experiencing this fall season.  Its definitely been nice not having to bundle up like an Eskimo around mid-October like I did every year of my life living in South Dakota.  As much I miss SoDak, I don’t miss the 2 seasons (summer and winter), the sub-zero temperatures or the too-early snow storms.   Now, when I got out of bed this morning, I noticed some snow.  And surprisingly enough, I was excited!  As much as I enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather throughout fall, I was really hoping to see snow soon – and I got my wish this morning.  With Christmas fast approaching, I feel seeing snow helps me get into the Christmas spirit.  Now I can officially say Frank Sinatra style, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere I go”.

Last year, I traveled to SoDak to spend Christmas with my family.  Knowing that I was going to drive home, I knew I had to keep a watchful eye on the weather.  For me, getting stranded on a highway is not the way I would want to spend the holidays.  But, as luck would have it, I got to experience not one – but two – blizzards during my two week Christmas break.  I survived the first blizzard by driving for 4.5 hours through 3 states (Ohio, Indiana & Illinois).  Thankfully I am accustom to driving in lot of snow or I think I would’ve ended up in the ditch like countless others on I-70W.  The second blizzard I experienced a week later immobilized me.  I got stuck for 3 days at my parents house with temperatures plummeting to a record low of -30 degrees.  For those of you who are curious, I attached a pictures at the end of this blog to prove it.

Stupidly, I find myself in a similar situation…again.  I have officially decided to drive home for the holidays.  I wanted to fly, but my desire to go hunting clouded my judgment.  I’m hoping (fingers-crossed) that I don’t have to go through what I did last year.

So, for those who may be traveling over the holidays, I wanted to provide a few fun holiday traveling tips.  Here it goes!

1. Make sure you have a winter survival kit in your car (i.e. blanket, candles, non-perishable food items, a change of clothes, magazines, books, etc). It will save your life, people.

2. If you are driving, make sure you stop at one random exit/pit stop along the way.  For example, the world famous “Wall Drug” and “Free Ice Water” signs in SoDak attract 1 million people every year – and its only because of curiosity.  I’m sure wherever you are going, there has to be a “largest ball of string”,  “grandpa’s cheese barn” or “world’s largest gopher/jackalope farm” along the way to stop at.  Trust me, it will probably be worth it.

3. Take plenty of potty breaks.  No more explanation needed.

4. Don’t forget to bring your iPods (and a car charger too).  I’d go crazy without it.  Plus, make sure to bring plenty of Christmas music on a CD or iPod.  I prefer Frank Sinatra myself.

5. If your iPod’s battery runs low because you didn’t bring a car charger, tune to any AM talk radio show and call in.  Even if they are talking about balancing our nation’s budget, I’m sure you’ll be one of three listeners that call call in and add absolutely NO VALUE to the discussion.  Plus, it’s funny.

6. Stop at a sketchy gas station and while you are filling up, decide to eat some of that crazy gas station food that is always ‘conveniently’ sitting on the front counter when you pay.  Try a rotisserie brat, some heat-lamp warmed pizza or the popcorn left out for everybody.  But if you really want to be daring, I suggest the random stuff like turkey gizzards, chicken necks/feet, 3 foot beef jerky sticks, salted nut rolls (my favorite) or…wait for it…the “country” homemade canning jars that contain pickled eggs or something.  If you find one of those, you hit the J-A-C-K-P-O-T.

7. If all else fails, just sing in the car.  Heaven knows we’ve all seen plenty of wackos having a Britney Spears  moment on the interstate.  Why not let it be you…in some random state…driving??  Just sayin’.

And, now, the ‘coup de grace’ (ha, maybe there is a pun intended here…)

The moment I cross the SoDak border, I will be lock and loaded.  My Remington 870 will be ready to shoot any unassuming pheasant I cross paths with.  Look out birds.  I’m coming.