Kate drove for a while in silence, and Spencer eventually fell asleep. When she drove several miles northwest of Kansas City toward Iowa, she noticed white flakes floating around the car. “Spencer, wake up. What are these white things?” Kate knew what they were, of course, but they caught her off guard. It was way to early in the year to see white flakes drifting to the ground. And accumulating.
“Huh?” Spencer sat up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
Kate repeated her question.
He looked out the windshield and at the sky. “Snow. It’s snowing. Oh, man.” He looked at Kate who gave him a quick glance. “I don’t have a good feeling about this.” She seemed nervous and rightly so.
“Where are we?” Spencer fiddled with the radio and found a station with weather bulletins.
“West of Kansas City.”
Spencer stopped in a radio station talking about the weather. “…and for Clay County, a winter storm watch is in effect until midnight tomorrow. This unexpected blizzard will bring high winds and heavy snow…stay tuned for further details. Now back to your regular programming.”
Spencer studied their route directions, thinking. What he heard did not sit well with him. And immediately he realized his very big mistake before leaving on their trip. How could he have forgotten to check the weather forecast for where they were headed? How?
Kate shivered. “Do you have an atlas?” She switched the dial over to heat.
“In the trunk. Why don’t we get off at the next decent exit and I’ll pull it out.” Spencer wished he’d taken the time to upgrade his cell phone to a Smart phone, but he kept putting it off. Too late now.
Kate drove a few more miles into a less congested area of town and pulled off and turned into a gas station. She rubbed her arms and waited for Spencer to get back in the car with the map. At least she had packed some long pants, but she wasn’t prepared for snow of any kind, let alone a storm or blizzard.
“What was the name of that county?” Spencer now had the atlas open across his lap. He ran his finger across Missouri and up into Iowa, along their route. Kate had pulled the car off to the side away from the gas pumps. “Carson? Carter? Something with a ‘c’.” Kate was leaning over the Missouri page that Spencer was now on.
“Here it is, Clay County. Hmm. I think it’s coming from the northwest. Let’s see how far we can get before stopping for the night. Do you mind if I take over early?”
“Nope. I’m going to get a hot chocolate at the station, want anything?”
“Just a black coffee.”
Kate stopped to stare at him. “Did you say coffee?”
He was still looking at the map. He nodded, tapping his fingers on the map and thinking.
I guess he’s a little worried; now that makes me worried. She knew Spencer never drank coffee unless he was under stress. She left the car, strode inside the station in a hurry, used the restroom and bought their drinks, rushing back to the car as fast as she could while holding the two hot drinks. Spencer was wiping off cleaner from the car’s windshield edges with a blue paper towel. “Ready?” he asked, finishing up.
She nodded, handing over his java. “Thanks,” he took his coffee and slid into the driver’s seat. She noticed he’d put on his sweatshirt he pulled out earlier.
“Good to go.” She got in the car and shut the door. She blew out her bangs. She hoped they could get further into Missouri as planned. They were supposed to make it all the way across Missouri tonight and then up to Iowa and midway across it tomorrow.
“Let’s get going,” Spencer said, starting the car. “We’ve a full tank, clean windows, oil still looks good. We’re off.”
He pulled into traffic and they were on their way. They drove on, with more flakes coming down in swirls. It was starting to collect at the sides of the roads. “Man, I totally forgot to check the weather for this trip, something I always do.” He chided himself for neglecting that small detail. “How do you feel if I keep going until either the roads close or I fall asleep?”
“What? What do you mean?”
“I think we should get as far as we can get before stopping for the night.” His serious tone matched his expression.
“What are you thinking?” She twisted the cardboard wrapper on her cup while listening to Spencer’s idea.
“That we’re in the middle of a blizzard, in the middle of October, in the middle of the country.” He gave her a quick smirk.
Until next time,