Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Critical Mission - Class 2012 Yearling Winter Weekend

Everyone who know anything about West Point is very familiar with the 'Gloom Period'. It's the time after Winter Leave until spring when everything is gray...the stone walls, the uniforms, the weather, the trees, the river...

the attitudes.

In an institution of higher learning where cadets can major in everything from Engineering to Defense and Strategic Study...

all cadets minor in Complaining.

Enter West Point Class of 2012 Yearling Winter Weekend. A bright, shining jewel of freedom in the sea of gray gloom. Add a hometown GF to the mix and life becomes worth living again...if only for a short while.

Meanwhile...back at Hillcrest Cottage on Thursday p.m....the Kinleystead is gearing up for a good ol' Southern ice storm complete with the frantic grocery store rush to procure standard Velveeta and Rotel provisions.

A text from the University three hours north arrives while I am weaving my grocery cart amidst wild shoppers imagining themselves snowed in for days to come:

Class is canceled

Time to hunker down and prepare because the storm is headed our way. GF from the University 30 miles away is invited to spend the night at Hillcrest Cottage and a promise is made to anxious Cadet that the very important GF will be personally escorted to the airport securely. This is no time for Murphy to rear his ugly head!

0430 The alarm clock announces the day
0455 Road Inspection and all is clear. Parental Escort Mission downgraded from critical to formality. Expedition is ignited for de-icing and heat for the airport run.
0500 GF check.

"Are we awake and on schedule for 515 departure?"

(Enter Murphy, the despised antagonist.)

"My flight has been canceled and rescheduled for 12:30 (1230)"

It will only be worse at 12:30 was my initial feeling, and we scrambled to think of alternative plans. With the weather heading due east toward her Memphis connecting flight, Dallas seemed to be the best city from which to deliver the very important GF package. But, alas, no openings available!

0610 A sudden realization that the Expedition is still running in the driveway! Very de-iced and very warm. An are-you-crazy look from Jeff...oh, well.

0630 The decision is made to go on to the airport before the roads get worse.

0930 Little Rock National is closed for the day...possibly tomorrow, too.

1000 Directives from Kinleystead Headquarters: Book a flight out of Dallas. Against the advisement from the ticket agent, Shreveport (3 1/2 hours south) was suggested as an alternate choice. "Book it!" was the order from Cadet Mom who has determined that nothing is going to stop the GF from getting to the West Point Yearling!

1030 to 1500 An uneventful, but slower-than-usual drive to Louisiana for the 1745 departure to Dallas with a 2400 ETA at LaGuardia.

1146 Cadet Text from West Point: thanks so much mom i love you!!!

Mom Points...YES!

1500 Arrival at Shreveport Regional with a heart-stopping glitch in the agenda when GF is informed her flight is overbooked. An airline change accommodates her with an earlier flight and earlier arrival in NYC...whew. With all found to be well, the Expedition begins the return trip.

1549 GF Text from Shreveport: i just boarded my first plane

Meanwhile, the Expedition tries to make good time while there's daylight and the roads are clear. I look like I rolled out of bed at 0430, complete with bedhead and blood-shot eyes. I've had a cup of coffee and a BK cheeseburger, but knowing the roads ahead are going to be icy makes hunger and vanity fall by the wayside.

And, all goes well. I make good time. My ETA at home is 1900, and while I'm thinking about the cheese dip at Hillcrest Cottage, I'm entertaing myself with a CD found buried beneath the Expedition console's heap of random junk.

1714 GF Text from DFW: just got to my gate! ive got my boarding pass.

Dark comes for the Expedition.

1810 GF Text from DFW: they said well be boarding in ten minutes :)

The closer I get to home, the more the snow and sleet pelts my windshield. It becomes difficult to distinguish between wet pavement and ice, so my 60 mph is reduced to 30 mph. Then, the interstate quickly, like someone drew a line over the road, turns into a sheet of solid ice. Cars have skidded off the road, police lights are flashing, truckers are coming to a standstill. The Expedition is sliding down the road at a zero mph that seems much faster because I have no control at all.

Suddenly, the upcoming exit looks very good to me, and I know I just can't go any further. I should have gotten gas before this event, my phone is down to one bar with no car charger. Everything is closed, and I am picturing a very cold night alone in my car.

I exit very cautiously off the interstate and into the first parking lot. A beacon of hope, lights, and a gathering of cars appears outside a Target store ahead. People are walking in and out. It's the only thing open for miles around, and I am very thankful!

So, I meet some truckers from Canada and Texas. We drink coffee together in the Target Starbucks. I sit at the counter and watch the Target parking lot begin to fill up with 18-wheelers.

With one bar left, I call Kinleystead headquarters.

Before I can even drink my coffee and read the magazines I had just purchased, my heroes in the Jeep have navigated the 30 miles from home and are in the Target parking lot.

I wish my trucker friends a good evening.

2130 I am found eating cheese dip in Hillcrest Cottage's kitchen!

2216 GF text from NYC: I made it! we're in a taxi

With the arrival of the evening's last text message, all the events of the day faded quickly away.

The bright, shining jewel of my cadet's gray existence has appeared for him. I thank God for my I-don't-accept-no-for-an-answer personality, for His making our paths smooth-er all day, for cheese dip in a warm cottage, and for a late night walk in the snow with Davis and Mac the Labradoodle.


  1. Super Mom rides (and parks!) again!

    You do realize that this story is going to be legend one day.

    Enjoy the well-deserved cheese dip!

  2. I'm thinking your Mother's Day gift better rock this year -

  3. You are diligent and determined! I kept wondering if you were going to be the date but you selflessly gave to your son and I'm sure he will always remember your obvious love for him! I don't think I could have done all you did, you are amazing!