A routine trip to a garden club meeting in Marietta turned into an overnight, snow-and-ice-filled adventure for five Hall County women.
“We’ll never forget it,” said Caroline Silcox, chuckling a little, as she and her group arrived in Gainesville on Wednesday afternoon, 25 hours after they left the Cobb County city. “It was really scary last night and this morning.
“But now that it’s over, we’ve got some funny pictures we’re going to share with everybody.”
The group’s ordeal was far from unique. Tuesday’s storm stranded or halted travel for thousands of motorists across metro Atlanta, with the nightmare extending well into Wednesday, even as bright sunshine filled the day.
Silcox was joined in her trip by Pam Kuchler, Kathy Haynes, Jean Sawyer and Jan Smith. Hearing reports the storm might dip south, they chose not to return home by way of Interstates 75, 285 and 85, instead heading northeast through Canton via Ga. 20.
“It took us seven hours to get to Ball Ground, where we found a gas station open, and we sat in chairs all night long,” Silcox said. “Everybody was just wonderful there. A lot of policemen came in and we got to visit with everybody, but we did not sleep.”
Eventually, the women were able to get on the road, but found traffic trouble again just outside Canton.
“As we started to go down one of our last hills, toward going home, was the biggest pileup of cars, trucks and pickups — a mess and a half,” Sawyer said. “So, we just pulled over to one side (of the road) and stopped.
“We hadn’t been there but for just a few minutes when here came this nice young man on a four-wheeler to give us cheer and to say he could help us if we would like to be helped.”
He told the women he could take them to nearby Revolution Church, which was helping motorists in distress. But the only way to get there was on the back of his vehicle — one person at a time.
“They’re evidently very mission-minded because they believe in helping others,” Sawyer said.
So, the grateful women took up the all-terrain vehicle driver’s offer.
“When we got (to the church) about 10:30 (Wednesday) morning, people were eating breakfast and were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed,” Sawyer said.
Not only did the women get to warm up there, they caught up on the latest TV news about the storm, including a Gov. Nathan Deal news conference.
While eating lunch, someone with the church announced “a small window” of time to get back on the road safely before temperatures began to plunge again.
“They were giving us good information while trying to help protect us,” Sawyer said.
The women arrived home about 2:30 p.m.
“We are delighted to be back,” Silcox said by cellphone just as they were entering Gainesville.
The experience also left loved ones waiting at home a bit anxious.
Sawyer’s husband, Gordon Sawyer, recalled relief when hearing the women had stopped at the convenience store.
“I was delighted to know they were off the road,” he said. “It wasn’t the best of circumstances, but it was a fairly new all-night convenience store, and I figured they were OK.”
Daniel Silcox was concerned, too, but had a laugh at the women’s expense.
“What they will do for the love of flowers,” he said.