Can you see the irony in this? Dave didn't want to walk in his college graduation ceremony. But I wanted him to, and I convinced him to do it. But then the nastiest snowstorm these parts have seen in the last 18 years decided to appear the same day, threatening to force us to stay home.
But we're hardy Minnesotans and Mother Nature couldn't stop us!
At some point during the week, the meteorologists started predicting a big storm for the day of his graduation ceremony. This storm was unpredictable and they were predicting everything from a few inches to over 20 inches. So pretty much anything. But as the day got closer, it became clearer that this was going to be a big storm.
Fast forward to Friday afternoon. Dave got a couple of emails saying graduation would not be canceled due to weather. We decided we better make the hour drive to his school that evening, so we could safely get to Mankato before the storm started. Especially with our little man, traveling safely was our number one concern. So we hurried about that afternoon and successfully out ran the storm, getting to the hotel shortly after the freezing rain and snow started. Us - 1, Mother Nature - 0.
Saturday morning we woke up to a snowy mess with a nice thick layer of ice underneath. Graduation was still on so we bundled up Owen and ventured out into the middle of the storm. We slowly made it to campus and Dave dropped us off at the door and we were safely inside the nearly empty auditorium. Dave met us inside after slipping on the ice and smacking his head on the ground. Us - 1. Mother Nature - 1.
Although it took a bit of extra effort to get to Dave's graduation, it was well worth it. I was so proud of him. He's put in so much effort over the past couple of years and overcame so many obstacles to get his degree -- all while working full time and driving 50 minutes each way to get to his school.
Even though Owen won't remember being at Dave's graduation, it was important to us to have Owen there. Owen, Chubs and our future children were Dave's inspiration for finishing his degree. So Owen had to represent. The two of us sat there together, so proud of Dave. Actually, Owen slept. I held Owen as I cheered as loud as I could when they announced Dave's name -- while also taking pictures and crying.
Our original plan after the graduation was to drive to the next town and reassess the snow situation. We have friends that live there, so we figured we could hang out with them if the storm made travel too difficult.
But the conditions deteriorated significantly since the beginning of the graduation ceremony. This was seriously the kind of winter storm that would have killed pioneers if they got caught in it. Lots of snow. Winds sustained at 35 mph with higher wind gusts, creating white out conditions where you can't see more than a few yards in front of you. Ice covering the roads. Snow on top of the ice, so you can't figure out where it's extra slippery. Enough snow on the roads that in some places it was hard to even tell where the roads were. They literally pulled the snow plows off the roads, because conditions were that bad. Us - 1. Mother Nature - 2.
Needless to say, we were maybe three minutes away from the university when we decided to stay in Mankato. We called up the hotel we stayed at the night before to see if there were any rooms available for that night. Thank God there was! I gave them our credit card number while I was on the phone to reserve our room. We weren't risking driving the rest of the way to the hotel to reserve our room only to find that they had booked up in the meantime. We weren't risking hanging up to try and book the room through Priceline only to have no rooms available. We needed that room and we got it. And good thing we got that room, because they actually closed the highway that was our route home. So we couldn't have gone home even if we tried. We spent the rest of the day and night there. We at food from Friday's for three consecutive meals (it was attached to the hotel). Despite getting stuck in Mankato, we had a good afternoon. We were safe. We were together. We had time to relax and do nothing except snuggle with our little guy and stare at his precious little face. Us - 2. Mother Nature - 2.
We woke the next morning to lots and lots of snow plows clearing the road in front of the hotel (a road we couldn't even see from our room the day before). The storm had cleared. We could go home. And that's exactly what we did....with a baby in one arm and a diploma in the other.
Us - 3. Mother Nature - 2. We won!