And Then We Drove For Our Lives!
As I reflect on the chaos that was December 2012, it’s honestly somewhat difficult to remember individual events. I remember leaving Fresno to start the drive to San Antonio, crashing on Tammera’s couch, and parking in the lot at Lackland Air Force Base…and not much else about my bonsai cross-country extravaganza. After watching Kyle graduate, we left Texas within the hour and continued driving to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where we crashed till morning.
Maybe I don’t remember a lot of the drive from Louisiana to North Carolina because I was unapologetically sleeping. As you may recall, I drove almost 24 hours straight, by myself, to Texas the day before. It hit me like a ton of bricks the next morning. Even though I was very happy and excited to be riding shotgun next to the love of my life after 4 months of separation, I knew that I needed to sleep in order to be any fun for him. I mean, I was STUPID tired. The kind of tired where you are using every ounce of strength to keep your eyes open and pretend to be listening…the kind of tired where you may start slapping your own face or swaying violently back-and-forth to keep awake. Yeah, this girl needed to sleep so that I could remember whatever beautiful words my favorite person on earth happened to be saying.
So I passed out. I woke up whenever Kyle pulled over to re-fuel and he’d inform me of our whereabouts. I slept through ALL state border crossings, and there were quite a few that day. According to our itinerary, we started the day in Louisiana, drove through Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and then arrived in North Carolina. Sheesh!
We met up with our dear friends Jennifer and Daniel that night for some beer and snacks at one of our favorite taverns, which happened to be near the hotel we were staying in. Even though most of our road-trip is still somewhat blurry to me, I remember (most) of our visit and laughing with them. After calling it a night and “sleeping in” (till 7 am), we headed over to good ‘ole Home Depot to pick up our moving truck. It took us a while to figure out how to attach our car to the tow-trailer. I don’t remember much about that hour except that it was SUPER FREAKING COLD! Poor Kyle didn’t have gloves and had to touch many cold pieces of metal to get everything set up correctly.
For our DITY move paperwork to be correctly documented (more on that later), we needed to locate an official weigh station to measure the weight of the moving truck, trailer, and car while they were empty. That took awhile, too. Honestly, Google didn’t help us at all with finding one. We knew that there were weigh stations for semi-trucks all along the highways, but we didn’t have time to just drive aimlessly (and pay extra for fuel in that HUGE Penske truck!). Our friend Daniel saved the day since he actually knew where one was! And it was only an exit away from Home Depot. Jennifer, if you’re reading this, please give Daniel a huge hug from me.
Anyway, after we got the vehicles weighed, we met Jennifer, Daniel and Daniel’s brother, Johnny, over at our storage unit. They helped us move our stuff from our storage unit into our moving truck. We paid them in pizza and had a good visit in our dining chairs before we packed them up. We were so grateful for their help! It only took us 45 minutes to load it all!
And then, we hit the wide open road. We drove from North Carolina to Nashville, Tennessee. To sum up some of driving, the next day (12/23) we drove from Tennessee to Oklahoma City, and then on 12/24 we drove from Oklahoma City to Gallup, New Mexico.
This is where the trip got crazy.
We were about 75% done with our drive for that day when we started noticing some snow on the ground. It was really cold in the moving truck. I was in several layers of clothing and was cozied up under a comforter. Kyle ran the heater to his liking and I adjusted my layers as needed (I didn’t want him to be too hot…Lord knows he would have passed out if I cranked it up as much as I would have if it were only me in the cab), but for him to even have the heater on says something about how truly cold it was. Maybe we were naïve in thinking that we wouldn’t hit snow. Who knows. After admiring the grey sludge on the side of the interstate, it wasn’t too long until a light snow started to grace upon us. It was magical. I rolled down my window to try and catch some flakes. Kyle and I were both excited and smiley since we are from sunny CA and only saw snow on vacations to somewhat distant locations. So we had fun and I definitely squealed with delight like a little kid. At this point in the drive, it was night time and very dark.
All of a sudden, the energy inside that Penske truck’s cab got nervous and tense. That magical, light, sweet snowfall started increasing dramatically. At first, I didn’t even notice how quiet Kyle was or how stressed out he looked, since I was so excited to be witnessing such heavy snowfall. Millions of snowflakes were flying directly at our windshield at an incredible speed. It looked like a scene from Star Wars. I remember looking over at Kyle and noticing his state of panic.
“The wipers are going as fast as they can, and they’re not fast enough!” We reduced our speed and began noticing SEVERAL jack-knifed semi-trucks on the side of the road. We didn’t know what to do, where we were, where to go, if we should pull over and try to get a room nearby instead of driving to Gallup, if we should buy snow chains…seriously, Kyle wasn’t talking and he was clenching his jaw. “Oh great…now we’re out of window washer fluid!”
Panic. My husband was freaking out. Can you blame him? He’s never driven in such heavy snow, at night-time, without tire chains or enough washer fluid to keep the windshield clear, in a HUGE 16-foot Penske moving truck (which held all of our worldly belongings), which was in turn towing our car.
We somehow managed to exit and park at a gas station. We mapped it out and found out that we were only 2 hours away from our hotel. Staying in another hotel wasn’t an option since the nearest hotel to us was out of the snowfall, which was only about 30 minutes closer. We looked at the weather forecast and it seemed like the snow was going to die down within the hour. We hopped out of the truck, got some coffee, tried to buy washer fluid (they were out!) and said a prayer once we got back in the truck. We continued to drive and sure enough, within 10 minutes, the snow stopped falling completely. We made it to Gallup safely (praise God!), but boy were we EXHAUSTED.
The next morning, we continued the last leg of our drive to Corona, CA. We made it to Kyle’s parents house for Christmas dinner and we were so happy that we made it there safely. We covered 13 states in 5 days, through a snow storm. God is good.