“So, in my last story, I mentioned I love adventure. It’s true. I’m drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Can’t help it. My dad was military, so I traveled a lot when I was growing up. Someone mentions a road trip: I’m going. Come hell or high water.
Last February, my cousin from up around Chicago was getting married, and I was invited. Chicago? I got engaged there. Shoot yeah, I’m going. I was a little nervous, with it being February and all, but what are the odds I’d get trapped in a snowstorm?
Well, I did. That’s why we are here.
I’m from Kentucky, ya’ll. We get a good snow once every 8 to 10 years, other than that, ice or a dusting. Ice Storm 2009? Shut the whole dang part of the state down. We don’t do snow or ice well. I’ll leave you with that tidbit.
My cousin got married at a beautiful resort in Waukegan, Illinois, that sat on the shore of Lake Michigan. It was incredible. Probably the fanciest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. I got lost looking for it and somehow wound up on a naval base. Not the worst thing that’s ever happened to me (if you know what I mean), but definitely took me a minute to find my place.
I got there on a Friday night and was going to leave on Sunday. Which gave me all day Saturday (before the wedding) to explore. I found out I was only 15 minutes from the Wisconsin state line, and if I’m close, I have to cross over. I’d never been to Wisconsin before.
So, I snatch up my Grandma, who I was sharing a room with, and off we go. We stopped at the Welcome Center so I could get a map for my collection, and ask the locals where I need to go.
The kind man behind the desk told me about the Jelly Belly Factory down the road, and handed me some coupons for The Brat Stop and Mars Cheese Castle. Food and cheese? Yes please.
We toured the Jelly Belly Factory, which was fun, and then off to Mars Cheese Castle.
I thought it was going to be a restaurant, but it was actually more like a giant grocery store filled with cheese, souvenirs, and alcohol. It did not disappoint.
We walk in and there’s this guy set up with cheese samples. If it’s free, I’m trying it till the cows come home. Ain’t no stopping me, especially if it’s food related. The guy begins explaining the three types he has in front of him. The first two sounded kind of boring, but he starts talking about the third and my interest was piqued.
‘This one is a *something tequila —’
Tequila? Say no more. I grabbed two toothpicks and down the hatch it went. Right about the time I was swallowing, I heard the words ‘Rattlesnake Venom’ and ‘habanero’. Oh man.
I suddenly looked like I had been through three wars and a goat roping. My ears got hot, my face was changing colors, and my esophagus started burning. I coughed.
‘He he he he he,’ my Grandma chuckled. I gave her ‘the’ look. The poor guy behind the cheese cart looked at me like l had a few screws loose, and asked if I was okay.
‘I’m good.’ *cough* ‘What are the other ones?’ I was sweating. My sternum was on fire, but Mamaw didn’t raise no b*tch, and I wasn’t going to let the guy see me whine about my new ability to breathe fire.
I choked through two more samples. They were mild. Don’t ask me what kind they were, because all I could taste at this point was hell’s fire. I walked into the other part of the store and chugged a bottle of milk. Done.
My Grandma drug my tail out there before I could cause any other fuss, and that was that of Wisconsin.
We got back to the resort and trekked the icy shore to get close to the lake. It was cold, but beautiful, and had a lot of waves on that windy day. I didn’t realize the storm being blown up behind that wind.
The wedding was that night, and I planned on leaving around 9 a.m. the next morning. I turned on the weather and saw they were supposed to get a pretty significant amount of snow the next day in the afternoon. Shew. I’ll be long gone before then.
Beautiful wedding and reception. Lots of happy tears. Lots of Malibu. Lots of dancing. Lots of great conversation with a part of my family I don’t get to see very much.
The next morning, they served breakfast to all the family who stayed at the resort. My Grandma had left around 4 a.m. to catch her flight in Milwaukee, while I slept off the Dirty Shirley’s.
I found myself in the breakfast room around 8:15 a.m. It was beautifully decorated and completed with solid glass windows. I walked over to look out at the lake and noticed it looked a bit funny.
‘Wow. How does a whole lake freeze over in less than 24 hours?’ I mentioned to my Great Uncle. He laughed at me.
‘Honey, that’s ice that was blown in with the storm.’
I was confused, the storm wasn’t supposed to hit until afternoon. Within 5 minutes of him saying that, down fell the biggest flakes I had ever seen. HUGE FLAKES. That covered the entire ground in less than 5 minutes. Lake effect snow.
9 a.m. rolled around and I went to say my goodbyes. I got out on the road, only there was no road. It was gone. Vanished.
I had to trust road signs and my GPS to get me where I needed to be. How in the hell do I always find myself in bad situations when I go on road trips? And why do I keep going on them, knowing ‘things’ happen?
Chicago is less than 6 hours from where I live, but it easily took me 8 to 9 hours to get home. After making a call to my friend from New Hampshire, begging her to talk me through how to drive in snow, I finally made it.
Not without a ton of curse words and laughs from Emily though.
I learned a few lessons on this trip.
1. Don’t go putting things in your mouth without a full description.
2. Hit the rumble strips on the interstate to kick snow out of your useless, non-snow tires to keep traction.
3. Don’t go to Northern Illinois in the Winter.
Sure, beats sketchy hotels in Michigan, or passing out at the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado.
Wonder where the next adventure will take me.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Allison Lemons, 26, of Erlanger, Kentucky. Follow Allison on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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