I love sharing stories with people. Especially the crazy things I see or experience when I travel. I share them in person, I share them on stage and I share them in this blog. Many times people will ask me are the stories real. Today I'll share with you a story of my adventures in Massachusetts last month.
I was invited to speak at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) in North Adams, Massachusetts. The little town is located in the Berkshire Mountains near the Vermont boarder. I was the keynote speaker for their 20th Annual Student Leadership Conference. When I told my friends that I would be speaking in Massachusetts the last weekend of February, most people thought I was crazy. I was leaving sunny Arizona to travel to a part of the country that was setting historical records for snowfall and cold temperatures.
When I arrived the temperature was -3 Degrees Fahrenheit and there was about 2 feet of snow on the ground. To my surprise, the cold temperatures really didn't bother me. The students and staff at MCLA were great. I gave one of my best performances and a lot of the students and attendees thanked me for making the conference a success.
During the Conference Closing, I received a college blanket and scarf as a gift. They also gave me food and water for my drive back to the airport. I appreciated the gifts, but they had me a little concerned. Did they know something I didn't know? It had started snowing, during the conference and my plan was to leave before it got dark. They weather forecast was for light snow, but it was snowing pretty well when I went to load up all my gifts in my rental car.
Being a former cold weather resident of the East Coast, I started up the car and turned on the heater to help melt the snow. I left the car running so, it would be nice and warm after I finished cleaning the car and saying my finals goodbyes to everyone who participated with the conference.
This is where things got crazy. While saying good-bye I asked people for the best route back to the airport. My GPS said the trip should be about 2 hours, but offered multiple routes. There was a 50/50 split on my route back. There was the route over the mountain or the route through the valley. With the snowing coming down at a good rate I didn't think the mountain route would be a good option. Thank thought changed when I spoke to the campus police officer.
Why was I talking with a police officer? Funny story...after saying good-bye to everyone I went back to my rental car. It was still running and snow free. Yes! It was also locked. Yep, the speaker who felt like a superstar a few minutes earlier, now felt like an idiot. I had to have the students call the campus police to help me get into my car. Instead of sneaking out of town feeling like a king, I was waving to all the students leaving the conference saying, "I'm locked out of my car."
The police officer got me into my car. I thanked her. I also asked her for the best way to return to the airport. She recommended going over the mountain. She said that the road is the major way out of town and should be plowed. She broke the tie, so I was off to airport. While making my way "slowly" to the mountain, I remembered one of the students telling me about a hairpin turn going up the mountain. The exact words were, "If you make it to the hairpin turn with no problems, you'll be in good shape."
I made my way up the mountain, got to the hairpin turn and felt really good. That's when I saw a truck in front of my struggling to make it up the mountain. All of the momentum I had died right there. While attempting to pass the truck, my car got stuck too. I tired to put my car in a lower gear, but that didn't work. I was creeping up the mountain, but barely. All the cars behind me weren't too happy. Things got worse when the rental car started to over heat. Now I was stuck on the side of the road 3/4 of the way up the mountain. The truck that struggling to get up the mountain slowed down as it was passing me to say, "You're almost to the top don't stop now." That's when I let them know, "My car over heated, I have to stop." While I sat on the side of the road 3/4 of the way up the mountain, I realized why MCLA gave me the blanket, scarf and food. I was a survival kit for occasions just like the one I was experiencing.
While I was waiting for my car to cool down during a snowstorm where the temperature was in the single digits, a snowplow finally drove by to clear the road. Really? Finally, I was able to restart the car. I was able to turn the car around and drive back down the mountain. I was now driving the long way to the airport through the valley. It was a slow drive a the snow got heavier, but their were no mountains to drive over. When I got to the highway the snow stopped and I started to smile. It would be smooth sailing to the airport.
Ten minutes later I was in a blizzard! I only had about 30 miles left to drive, so I continued through another of the 2015 New England Snowstorms. As I got closer to the airport, the roads got worse. Click HERE to see how bad the roads were. I saw a few accidents and several drivers who needed the licenses suspended. I was just praying to get to the rental car facility and airport safely. That's when a warning light and alarm went off in my rental car! "Low Tire Pressure" was the warning. I was only a mile away from the airport. I stopped at a gas station to see...err hear was going on. I sounded like a thousand snakes were escaping from the front tire. I was only 1/4 mile from the rental car return.
I filled the gas tank as quickly as possible (you have to return the car with a full gas tank). Luckily for me the roads were so snow covered a flat tire actually wasn't a bad thing. When I got to the rental car return. I told them what had just happened. When I looked at the tire again, it was completely flat.
Crazy story right? I had to fill out paperwork about my "accident." After that it was off to the airport. After my adventure, I was time to finally relax and reflect on what turned out to be adventure that lasted almost five hours. That's when my phone rang. I was my wife calling to ask how my day went and ask if I had any "interesting stories" to share.