Looking forward to a sunny, warm vacation in Florida. Packing light clothing and leaving the snow shovel behind.
Well, here we are on our way to sunny Florida. And on our way down, staying over in South Carolina, we are in the middle of history in the making. It’s snowing! And it’s not just snowing; the snow is accumulating!
In South Carolina they aren’t used to ice and snow. There aren’t too many snowplows or sanding trucks. People aren’t used to driving in the snow.
Fortunately, we booked an extra night at our motel anticipating that the drive down I-95 from South Carolina to Florida would be terrible. It was not only terrible; I-95 in Georgia was closed due to solid ice.
In fact, almost everything in the Yemassee, South Carolina area was closed. A 24-hour mini-mart next door to our motel closed at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. A local “fast food” establishment had a long line of customers inside and the drive-through line was even longer. Eventually they closed their doors and had only the drive-through open.
One of the few grocery stores open in the area had only seven gallons of milk left in their dairy case. Paco Patel, owner of the Red Roof Inn – Yemassee, South Carolina was able to get to that grocery store and buy the milk.
“At least there’s enough milk and cereal for the guests’ breakfast,” said Patel, who knew that there wouldn’t be the normal deliveries to his motel because of the snow.
Patel’s motel was totally booked by 11 a.m. on Wednesday. People came to the door and were dismayed to see the “No Vacancy” signs. They came to the desk anyway in hopes of finding a room.
One woman, who checked out at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, was back later that day at about 4 p.m. She was heading to Florida and had to come back because I-95 was closed. But there were no vacancies.
Patel gave her directions to another inn about seven miles down the road that he knew still had vacancies. He had been calling other local motels and inns anticipating that he would have a number of travelers looking for a place to ride out the storm.
Alyssa Breighner, originally from a northern state, made it in to work at the inn in spite of the slushy, sloppy roads.
“I miss driving in the snow,” said Breighner. “I totally fishtailed! It was fun!”
Joshua Tawney, from Virginia Tech, was staying at the inn because his work, sandblasting water towers, took him to the Yemassee area.
“We’re not sandblasting today!” laughed Tawney, who seemed to be taking the snow in stride.
Everyone, in spite of the inclement weather, was pleasant and polite. Many could just laugh and shrug it off. We did.
Anticipating a warm, sunny vacation, we packed accordingly. But perhaps we shouldn’t have left the shovel behind.
Chelsea Wagner is a freelance writer for the Troy Pennysaver, the Owego Pennysaver’s sister publication in Troy, Pa.