“A cold wind was blowing from the north, and it made the trees rustle like living things”
– George R.R.Martin
Winter could be magical and sinister at the same time.
Ours was both – here goes an epic 36-hour Chicago to Pensacola road trip which clashed with the menacing December 2022 North American Winter Storm and created quite a stir, unfortunately.
December 22, 2022 – We fled a day earlier than originally planned thinking we will evade the storm. Google Maps suggested the US-41 route via Evansville instead of I-65 or I-57/I-65 combo and we took the bait thinking interstates might be overcrowded due to holiday travel.
12 PM – We left off as early as we could – the storm was gunning from west to east and about to hit the Chicago area.
12:30 PM – Hit I-294. The conditions weren’t all that bad initially.
Tip: I-294’s never ending construction work is scheduled till 2026
The salt trucks on the highway seemed like guardian angels.
Salt.. salt.. need more salt..
Just when we were feeling a bit less edgy, it started pouring down.
To our merit, we were heading down south, hoping against hope to bolt away before the full brunt of the storm.
2 PM – As we were entering US-40 – the countryside looked endearing, even under the storm threat.
And the snow also seemed drawn-out, momentarily.
Spoke too soon ..
The actual snow took a break soon enough but then the gusty winds kept fueling the ground blizzard.
The solitude and the visibility on the road was getting a bit eerie.
Driving into oblivion?
7 PM – Crossed Terre Haute in Indiana, a big town perfect for food stops, on a regular day. We swiftly picked up the grub from a fast food drive-through and were on our way again.
Using big trucks as a shield to avoid blowing snow
9 PM – The weather conditions after Evansville became tormenting – vigorously blowing snow banging the windshield.
10 PM – We took cover in Nashville finally, as the storm ceased to relent.
The wintry mix was still coming down hard, it felt as if we carried The North with us
The Next Day
December 23 – We woke up to an arctic morning, a frigid negative 5 degrees in Nashville, one of the coldest days ever on record in Nashville.
And just when we thought a frosty morning is eventful enough, one of the cars in our troupe decided to *not* start.
Heading out to buy jumper cable on frozen Nashville road (Dec 23, 2022)
All our attempts went to vain, the car just won’t come alive, dead as rubber.
Tow trucks were having a windfall everywhere, December 23, 2022
5 PM – After 6 hours of grueling wait for the repair, we hit the road again, all amped up.
#MildlyInteresting – got hand soap at an Alabama Loves fuel stop on the way and it felt like .. mud. A cringed look at the soap box uncovered GOJO SUPRO MAX, a local superhero to deal with greasy villains.
Back on the road, we kept the pedal to the metal as the road conditions improved …
11 PM – 36 hours through the glacial weather, we reached our destination at Pensacola.
As for the next day, one glimpse at this gorgeous Pensacola sunset and we forgot about all the weariness of the road trip.
You can read about all our Pensacola exploits here.
The Journey Back
Thankfully, the Weather Gods ceded on our way back and we got a beaming sun to give us company.
Alabama and Tennessee part of the road trip is very delightful
As you get closer to Illinois, the terrain becomes flat (and a little gloomy).
And just like that, the noir takes over and you are fighting the fatigue hard.
8 PM – We were able to gun down the return journey in 14 hours.
So long, winter!
That’s it! Hope you enjoyed the chronicles of our first road trip through the snow storm.
Disclaimer: This is not an attempt to glamorize road trip during snow storm. We took all the precautions we could (I left them out of the blog while exercising creative liberty rights).
2 thoughts on “Road Trip from Chicago during historic Winter Storm”
You are a brave soul, my friend! Pensacola looks like it was worth it though. Glad you made it there and back safely.
Enjoying a real trip