Some holiday travellers are giving thanks for the cheapest gas prices in years. But that’s cold comfort to those beating a path through stormy weather, including a nor’easter affecting a wide swath of the East Coast.
Alas, the yearly Thanksgiving trek, be it across the country or across town, may be a mixed bag of the usual travel headaches with a little extra pocket money as a consolation prize. A snapshot of what it’s like out there:
START OF SOMETHING NEW
Marc Miller and his wife Becky, of Loveland, Colorado, want their three children to see all 50 states, so this year for Thanksgiving they decided to pack up and head to the Grand Canyon, the Four Corners “and anywhere else we can come up with,” Marc said.
“Were going to try something new, have a new tradition, maybe,” Marc said.
Their first stop was just two exits from home: a truck stop on Interstate 25. They needed a new generator for the crock pot jammed in their trunk, where they were making pumpkin pie.
The goal was to hit Arizona by sunset Thursday, but the plans that followed were looser. They didn’t know where they would stay but planned to find “a hotel that’s not on the bedbug registry.”
-Sadie Gurman in Johnstown, Colorado
WORTH THE DRIVE
Crossing the Eastern Continental Divide, sometimes during snowstorms, is a Thanksgiving tradition for Jocelyn and Fred Smith of Marietta, Ohio. They did it again Wednesday on a 300-mile trip to Middletown, Delaware, for dinner Thursday with her parents, some of her nine siblings and two of the couple’s three children.
“This is what you do to honour your mother and your father and get to see your family,” Joceyln said during a fuel stop along Interstate 70 in Hagerstown, Maryland.
They drove their Honda Accord through a snowstorm that dropped up to 7 inches in western Maryland.
“It was coming down thick. The roads were very slushy, sometimes kind of one lane-ish,” said Jocelyn, 58. “Just nasty, nasty driving.”
The couple have more driving ahead. After Thanksgiving, they’ll visit Fred’s family in Palmyra, Pennsylvania, before heading home.
-David Dishneau in Hagerstown, Maryland
TAKING A BREAK
Mother-daughter pair Carol Cash and Michele Webb left Homosassa, Florida, around 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday. About 400 miles later, they were glad to grab lunch at the iconic drive-in, The Varsity, in downtown Atlanta. Cars with license plates from states across the Deep South streamed in and out of the restaurant’s lot as the traditionally boisterous carhops took orders.
They always drive back when visiting family. The experience is worth the time and money, no matter the cost, Webb said.
“We did it when it was $4 a tank,” Cash said. “You just don’t look at the final price.”
-Kathleen Foody in Atlanta
NIGHTMARE OF A DAY
Ed Meyerhoefer, 42, from Morristown, New Jersey, was at his wits end after a horrendous travel day that began Tuesday night when he and his family found out that their 12:30 p.m. flight Wednesday to North Carolina had been cancelled due to the storm.
Hoping to avoid the 11-hour drive with their 4-year old son, Lucas, Ed and his wife, Patricia, decided to try to stand by for a 6 a.m. flight out of Newark. Despite waking up at 2 a.m. to be first in line, the flight ended up being full. Frustrated, they gave up waiting and drove back to Morristown to switch cars and begin the 11-hour drive south.
But the final straw came when they arrived and Meyerhoefer realized he’d packed his house keys in his luggage, which had made the stand-by flight that they’d missed.
He had to break a window to get in.
He was still kicking himself as he stopped for a caffeine jolt at a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike Wednesday morning.
“It was a horrible idea,” he said. “Never, ever do standby on a snowy night before Thanksgiving.”
Still, he said, it was important for them to make the trip to see his family.
-Jill Colvin, Thomas Edison rest stop, New Jersey Turnpike