Archive for May, 2007
Our moving van pulled off of the farm road and onto the driveway, soon we would see the house.
When we arrived, we hugged the woman we’ve met only once and brought our overnight bags into the spare bedroom and passed out for ten hours. Then it was time to unload the moving van.
The cabin that we’ll be staying in isn’t move-in ready yet, so the bulk of our things are being stored in the barn. The barn is by the horse stable, next to the electric fence, with only a dirt trail leading up to it. Feeling adventurous, we take the moving van off road for the first time. It’s been raining for days so the ground is soft and the air is thick with humidity.
All of our furniture and half of our boxes fill the space in the barn. Then BioMom starts arranging things. Now I know where C gets her Tetris skills: genetics.
The rest of the things going in there fits with room to spare. The remaining boxes join us in the spare bedroom.
Suddenly we both become aware that we’re living with strangers. This will be an adventure.
As we crossed the Continental Divide, we escaped the thunderstorm and ran into a blizzard. The snow was flying sideways and the landscape turned completely white in under 15 minutes. Ice began to collect on the windshield wipers and the road in front of us. We continue on.
As the elevation drops, the snow turns to severe rain and we drive and drive trying to get ahead of it again. Lightening strikes nonstop in the sky above us as we cross the corner of Colorado and get into Western Kansas where it finally gets so bad that we have to pull over for a few hours.
Huddled together, we share a bag of pretzels and tell each other it will pass soon.
A six this morning, when we started moving east again, we find out about Greensburg – a town due south of us. They are reporting 63 injured, 7 dead, many missing, and 100% building damage. Everyone has lost their home.
The forecast says a 70% chance of more tornadoes sometime today. As we drive, the wind is blowing 45 miles per hour on our passenger side and it’s getting darker.
We’re pulled over in a truck stop in Ellis, Kansas watching the wind blow.
I don’t know how long we’ll be here.
During the night the sky opened up, but when we woke up at 7 the sky was a beautiful clear blue.
Caren went to grab our free breakfast (english muffins) while I vomited for an hour. My fever had kept us both up late into the night. Ok, it kept me up and I acted like a giant child and kept waking C up. She jumped out of bed at my every whiny whim without complaint. I finally left her alone by 3.
I dragged around the room while C packed up and rearranged the van. Tetris, her alter ego, was able to double our cabin space.
I climbed into the van’s passenger seat and we pulled out of the parking lot at 9:01.
Following the smiley man’s directions, we found our way back to the highway and began to head east. Ten minutes later the “Check Engine” light comes on.
C pulls over to the shoulder and calls Penske. They’re very glad to recieve our call. We’re number… FOURTEEN …in line. Sure, well wait for the first available representative to take our call.
As we sit on the lonely stretch of highway we can’t help but think of the 24 hours of putting boxes in the van as we consider the possibility of having to switch vehicles. I begin to sweat and shiver. C gives me Tylenol with codeine and I press myself against the increasingly colder glass. That’s when we notice the first snowflakes.
In the mirrors we see the dark clouds. In front of us is clear sky. C cranks the engine. The check engine light doesn’t come on, so she puts it in drive and we take off.
As we head southeast the snow stops, but the clouds are almost above us. The entire northwestern sky is pitch black, the entire southeastern sky is clear blue, and the line is right above us. The storm is chasing us.
For the entire day we stay just ahead of it. Whenever we stop for gas it catches us, but we’re able to outrun it, but then somewhere in Idaho the road curved south and the storm was coming toward us sideways.
We’d put a lot of miles between us, but it caught up with us in Ogden, Utah. Luckily, we switched highways and started heading east again.
The entire time, C has been driving. We make it to Evanston, Wyoming and 11 hours behind the wheel is all she can take.
Money is getting tight, so we have to shop around for a cheap place to stay. The clerk behind the desk of the Comfort Inn takes pity on us and gives us a discount.
We are now two days behind schedule.
Too tired to sleep to noon, we laid in bed and felt the ache of four 15-hours days and 12 hours of heavy boxes. Little did we know at the time we still had twelve more hours before the apartment was empty.
In a ironic twist the last of the boxes were filled with books, papers, and I think some lead bricks. As we moved at half speed, I could feel my arms getting longer. I imagined being able to tie my shoes without bending over and changing the TV channel sans remote control. Caren kept cramming more and more into the tiny moving van. At ten o’clock, the van was full. C says she’s so tired her whole body is humming. The only things left in the apartment was what was going in the front of the van with us, and the bed we were abandoning. (It was a craigslist freebie, anyway)
At midnight we turned off the lights and slept in our Seattle home for the last time.
Morning arrived and our new body aches made yesterday seem like a sneak preview. It took us an hour to fill the cooler, make sandwiches, and get out the door, but we’re finally off.
We take turns driving, switching every hundred or so miles, but it’s clear that we are too tired to continue. Crunch week was catching up fast. We were hoping to make it into Idaho before stopping, but the approaching dark clouds made us think better of it.
We pulled off into La Grande, Oregon. A small winding mountain road led us into the heart of the sleepy one-road town. We start to pull into the tiny Greenville Motel, but notice that The All-American Inn across the street has free WiFi.
The All-American Inn is typical Americana, with it’s glowing sign above a never-used swimming pool next to the parking lot.
The man behind the desk is all smiles. He recommends a good restaurant and lets us know how to get back to the highway. We thank him, take the key, and pass out in the bed for three hours before returning to the van to get any of our luggage.
When we wake up, it’s pouring rain. We decide to eat more sandwiches and catch up on Veronica Mars rather than venturing out. C gives me some Tylenol and makes me drink water. She says I’m sick, but I don’t believe her; although as I snap a few pictures I can’t help but notice how good the cold night air feels.