We woke up the day after Christmas in Marion, VA, and there were at least 3 inches of snow on the ground and more steadily falling from the sky. We were already a little bummed that we didn't make it to Asheville on Christmas day, and we were not thrilled at the prospect of spending another night in Marion. We decided to check out the roads and DOT cameras. The road (not roads) in Marion was clear and the new falling snow was not sticking. The Virginia DOT cameras showed clear roads as well.
We decided to head south around noon. Our original plan was to go as far as Johnson City, Tennessee, and get another room there. The thought process was, at least there would be options in Johnson City. While the Yummy Yummy Japanese Steakhouse was nice, we were not excited to eat lunch and dinner there again. We felt that at least there would be multiple restaurants in Johnson City and maybe even a mall to occupy our time. Johnson City is only about an hour from Asheville, but there is a serious mountain range and increased elevation to cover between the two, and I was worried about that stretch of highway (thus our plan to stop in Johnson City).
We hit the road and I was shocked at how clear I-81 was even with the continuous snow. The roads were 100x better than the night before, but I was still worried about I-26 over the mountain. We successfully made it to Bristol and the Tennessee line. We made it to I-26 and the roads were still clear. We made it to Johnson City with no problems, and we make the decision to…keep driving.
The truck's window is filthy with snow and saltEverything was fine until we got outside of Erwin, TN, at the base of the mountain pass. There was no warning; the roads did not get gradually worse; the snow did not begin to fall more heavily. There were no signs/omens/warnings that the road was about to become completely covered in snow. BAM! The road was covered. And BAM! I was freaking out.
We stopped to get gas and decide to look for a hotel (at the request of my anxiety). We realize that we are literally in the middle of nowhere (more so than Marion), and that the only hotel is 3 miles further down I-26. We have no choice but trudge ahead. We hop back on the interstate and literally 2 miles later the road was clear again.
The hotel in Erwin, TN, is the last hotel before going over the mountain. Once we passed Erwin, there would be no turning back. We…kept…driving. I was a disaster. I spent most of the remaining miles with my hoodie up, sunglasses on, and my head buried in my lap. I was scared beyond belief, but mostly it was my own mind/imagination as the roads were actually very clear. Timothy did a great job driving, and we were lucky that all the other drivers on the road were cautious as well.
I'm not sure why I was so stressed, when it could have been worse...
this guy was hauling a boat over the mountain in the snow!A little before 3 o'clock we arrived in Asheville! I wish we had a picture of Timothy Dad's expression when he realized we had just pulled up. Mark was out shoveling snow when we got there and was shocked to see us. It was a crazy adventure and not exactly how we had planned to spend our first Christmas together, but now we have a great memory and story to tell.
This face pretty much sums up my anxiety.
The dogs, however, were not phased.