All college students have something important in common: We’re cheap but like to have fun. My roommates and our spring break dreams were no exception to this commonality. The only thing that kept us sane throughout the year as we hiked through the bleak Wisconsin winter to the library every night was the promise of having the time of our lives on spring break.
Whenever we would contemplate dropping out of school, we said the one thing that could combat this self-destruction: “Daytona.”
Sticking to our brand of broke college students, we decided our mode of transportation would be by car, specifically my bright blue 2010 Toyota Corolla, lovingly named Laverne. As the car owner, I had some rigid packing rules. My expression of these rules came in the form of statements such as, “If anyone brings their parka to Florida I will throw it out the window”, or “Yes, we are bringing the pong table even if that means one of us gets left behind.”
We stuffed the clown car full of everything poor college kids could possibly find useful while spending a week in Florida, such as enough red Solo cups to quench an entire army’s thirst, at least two decks of cards and hot dogs. As all of my roommates are Midwesterners, more specifically Wisconsinites, it is a rite of passage to know how to drive in all types of weather. We do the rain, the snow and the weird ice/rain/sleet/hail that always prompts the question, “What even is this?” The standard for Wisconsin drivers is extremely high, and while the 1,300 miles to Daytona was daunting, we were all prepared for the challenge.
Naturally, about two hours into the “Spring Break of Our Lives,” we encountered snow. As previously mentioned, we knew snow well. The flipped cars we saw every half-mile worried us, but we puttered along in our trusty Corolla. Until we got to Leroy, Illinois. The snow-covered roads made the curves on our path essentially invisible. I hardly noticed anything was wrong until I realized the wheels of the car were no longer spinning. I turned to my failing co-pilot, whose job description includes navigation and staying awake, and asked her, “Are we still moving?” The “Spring break or bust!” mantra we had all felt earlier began to dwindle as we realized we were currently participating in the latter.
The four of us, assuming we could muster the same amount of strength as those mothers who lift cars off their children, busted out of the vehicle and began trying to push the toy-sized vehicle back onto the road. My roommates reminded me loudly and with colorful language, of my threats against bringing their parkas, as the pelting snow soaked us from head to toe.
Then a truck rolled by. He stopped and yelled out the window of his beat-up truck, “Wisconsin? You girls should know better.” And we really should have. It was embarrassing to bear the license plate while stuck in a ditch.
“Where ya headed?” he yelled over the wind as he parked his truck on the side of what we could only assume was the road.
“We’re going to Daytona, Florida,” my roommate yelled back.
His eyes lit up as he grabbed a shovel out of the back of his gray truck, “Oh boy. We’ve got some spring breakers on our hands.”
As he began helping us shovel out our front wheels, a literal snow plow pulled up beside us. As you can imagine, Leroy, Illinois is not a big town. It was one of those quaint “everyone knows everyone” villages, and from the look on the truck guy’s face these two had teamed up before. A big, burly guy built like a thumb lumbered out of his snowplow. Both locals exchanged a warm hello and agreed this was “the worst snowstorm they’d seen in years.” Of course.
The newly formed squad set to work. After enough pushing to parallel a birth, we freed Laverne from the ditch. The two men waved us off laughing to themselves. We yelled “thank-you’s” at them until they were out of sight. We barreled down the stretch going on average of 20 mph until reaching a highway, and eventually Florida.
The college spring breaks we saw on T.V. never involved snow storms.