While our trip to Montana was nothing short of a success, the end of the trip became the most harrowing part of the experience. As a group, we were always planning to leave Virginia City Thursday morning, and return to Newark Saturday afternoon. What unfolded was a journey of more than 2,200 miles, and a race to beat mother nature home.
Thursday morning 7:30 a.m.– We left Virginia City, said our goodbyes to the staff at MHC, as well as the ghosts of the Bonanza Inn, and headed to Bozeman.
Thursday around 9:00 a.m.– We dropped Corinne off at the airport. The remaining field schoolers headed into Bozeman for an epic breakfast. We stopped at “Main Street Overeasy.” To say this was the best breakfast I have ever eaten is an understatement. I myself had the “Bison, Bacon, and Biscuits.” A heavenly union of sausage gravy and biscuits, topped with bison sausage, bacon AND eggs. Gloria had the “Bone-In Country Ham Breakfast,” and the ham was almost as big as her plate! Kevin opted for a huevos special, topped with pulled bison skirt steak (did I mention we were in Montana?)! And Becky had the fluffiest, plate sized pancakes, with bison sausage! Add local roasted Yellowstone Coffee to this mix, and this place might be heaven on earth!
After breakfast the group had an hour or so to explore Bozeman. We dispersed to yarn stores, food co-ops, coffee companies, book stores, and vintage shops. At 11 we reassembled in the car.
Friday 1:00 AM!–After driving at least 13 hours, most of which in MONTANA!, we made it to St. Cloud Minnesota. For those of you who are counting we went through Montana, North Dakota, and into Minnesota. We drove through the picturesque Painted Canyon, North Dakota Badlands and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Through out our drive on Thursday, we kept getting various updates (when cell service was available) about the unfolding State of Emergency in Delaware.
Friday 7:00 a.m.– The group piled back into the car after 5 hours of sleep. We left St. Cloud, MN, bright and early. We drove through the rest of Minnesota, down through Madison, Wisconsin, and then onto Chicago. We hit some traffic in Chicago, and continued to Indiana.
Friday 9:00 p.m.– We arrived for the night, right outside of Cleveland, OH. After another long day of driving, the group was famished, and headed to a local diner, “Memories.” After returning to the hotel, we had access to the internet, and the insanely intense news coverage of the impending storm. The University of Delaware had cancelled student move-in, orientations, and classes indefinitely! What were we returning to? Would we make it?
Saturday 6:30 a.m.– At breakfast in the hotel we met a group of electricians from Chicago, IL, heading to Chester CO., PA. They were dispatched ahead of the storm, to help with the inevitable power outages Irene was going to cause. We learned that our hotel was completely booked, mostly with first responders!
All that lay between the CHADsters and Delaware was the state of Pennsylvania, and it’s turnpike. Traffic was typically heavy, however who was driving it had dramatically changed. We saw a lot of cars from PA, and NJ, also hoping to make it home before the storm, and convoys. Lots and lots of convoys. We passed upwards of 10, each containing 20 or so vehicles. We saw responders from FEMA, Ohio Task Force 1, tree trimers, trucks with “Irene” in duct tape on the back, from Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. What were we doing? Talk about counter intuitive!
Saturday 1:00 p.m. (ish)– We stopped outside of Lancaster, PA to pick up groceries. After having been gone 10 days, no one was prepared to return home, let alone to a possible natural disaster!
Saturday 1:30 p.m.– As the first rain drops were falling on Newark, CHAD’s field school rolled in to town. We unpacked the van, and our repacked cars said our good byes, and went home to ride out the storm!
Everyone arrived safely, but what a strange crazy trip.
For more info on places we stopped: