Monday, February 1, 2010

The 4x4 Adventure

4x4, AWD....wondering what I am talking about? I was oblivious to these terms until this past weekend and realized their importance more than ever. A small group of our friends (ok, small maybe an understatement considering we were twelve adults and four chirpy 4-6 year olds) rented a cabin in the Smoky Mountains, Tennessee. We set off in 3 vehicles, one equipped with AWD and the other two with none. AWD – All Wheel Drive, a very essential feature in a large vehicle such as an SUV, when it comes to driving on roads that are slushy, covered in snow or iced over. AWD makes sure you stay on the road and don’t go off on a merry-go-round ride in the middle of the highway with other cars zipping by at speeds over 60mph. The weather conditions were not as favorable as we would have liked , but still decided to stick to the trip plan. A lot of calls to several rental car companies turned to be disappointing as none of them could assure us a 4x4 SUV. Well, we figured if driving became impossible we would buy snow chains on the way and get through with it. The three groups started from Atlanta at different times due to individual work hours.

Car 1 – KK, Senior S, Junior S, Another S and me.
Starting time: 2:45 pm, Friday
Time to destination: 4hrs 10 mins
Actual Time Taken: a little over 10 hrs

Though we started off well before rush hour, it took us about 45 minutes to get to the highway crawling at 30mph. Soon we were cruising at 70mph, happy that all was going well…and then came the sleet, gradually turning to a steady light snowfall. We began to move at 2mph, which was as good as standing still. The roads were super slushy which made going beyond a certain speed impossible. Senior S and I were in the backseat with junior S and all we could do was look at other 4x4s zip past us with no trouble whatsoever. Senior S couldn’t stop worrying about how badly we were stuck and kept telling us we should have gotten a 4x4 too by hook or crook….. wish is all we could do at that point. We somehow made it to Pigeon Forge by 11pm. The cabin was located atop the mountain and we had to take narrow winding lanes to reach it. The actual adventure began here…the cabin was about 6 miles from the main road, and we had made it to about 3/4th of the way when our car began to back up instead of going up a slope. That’s when the seriousness of the situation sunk in and to make matters worse, we realized none of our cell phones had reception there. Past midnight, snowing like crazy and stranded on a slope with no way to reach the cabin... sounds like a movie story doesn’t it? :D We were able to get in touch with the people in Car2 for a few brief moments and were able to tell them to buy snow chains for our car.

The best thing to do was to walk to the cabin rather than wait in the car, the cabin was about 1.5 miles from where we were. Fortunately we had the right footwear, jackets and gloves. And the best part, the moonlight to guide us in the otherwise dark roads. Junior S was bundled up and she had just woken up from a good nap; she was all excited about going for a walk in the dead of night. We walked for about a mile up and down gradient roads, before a good Samaritan couple stopped and asked if we needed help. We hitched a ride to the cabin( which took us a while to find). The majestic cabin loomed ahead and we were anxious to get in and use the phone to contact the others.

Meanwhile Car 2(the one with AWD) was going around in circles in Pigeon Forge, reason: wrong address!!! They had no clue it was the wrong address to the cabin until about an hour or so. They weren’t able to reach us over the phone, neither were we. The call we made from the cabin saved the day and they joined us shortly after. Being a 4x4 Car 2 had no trouble reaching us…up the slopes et al. Car 3 came along later and was also stranded on the same slope as our car was and Car 2 transported people from Car 3 to the cabin.

Time: 2am … every group had a story to share and the night wore on. The kids were running around exploring the cabin and each of us were talking to each other all at once. Excitement and exhaustion ruled the air. This was only getting there, what followed the next two days is best saved for another day :).

All in all, it was one incredible trip to the Incredible Cabin. Hail the 4x4!!