Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Big Move: Part 2

The Big Move Continued...

On Sunday morning we were up with the sun and headed toward Reno. I led with my car, and the beau followed me in a Budget rental truck, towing his car on a trailer. We realized in that first leg that the rental truck was going to need to go slow and steady on even the slightest incline. I really didn't mind creeping through the mountains around Lake Tahoe at 30 miles per hour, since I knew it would be the last time I would take in those views for a very long time.

Our first day was a 13-hour trek to Salt Lake City. I had high hopes for sight seeing to do at each stop on the trip, but by the time we pulled into our hotel parking lot all I could think about was food and sleep. We didn't do any sight seeing other than what was visible from our windows as we cruised down the highway, and we were both completely okay with that.

Day two took us from Salt Lake City to Denver. That drive was a little shorter but we got to Denver during rush hour which, if you think is bad on any other Monday, is a nightmare when you've already been in the car for eight hours. We decided to just tough out the extra hour of drive time to get to the far side of Denver and avoid any morning traffic the following day.

Day three was a Tuesday. It felt like a lifetime away from the previous Saturday, spent sipping tea in the sunshine, opening wedding gifts and reminiscing with my girlfriends. We pulled out of Denver at what should have been an early enough hour to get us to my sister-in-law's apartment in time for dinner. Somewhere in the middle of Kansas we blew a tire on the trailer. It could have been much worse, so I won't even complain about it. Within seconds of pulling to the side of the highway a patrol car pulled up behind us and offered to escort us to the rest stop just 100 yards or so further. We were able to get a hold of a shop in the next town and had a man there putting a new tire on within an hour, and Budget even paid for it. What could have been the end of our day wound up only setting us back about two hours.

An hour or so down the highway I noticed low, dark clouds just north of us. They were beautiful. Clear blue skies to my right, ominous black clouds to my left. As they inched closer across the sky there was some relief from the blistering heat, but the humidity took it's place, making the air so heavy and sticky I had to close my windows and turn on the A/C just to keep my hands from sweating on the steering wheel. 

Shortly after a strange thing caught my eye, something I hadn't seen before, something that doesn't happen where I'm from. Just above the tall grass the air looked like it was full of white streaks coming toward me. The grass blew down sideways and the panels on some sort of tented dome in the field began flapping violently. I stared our my window, fascinated, having no idea that those black clouds were the tip of a massive storm that would rip across the middle of Kansas, later dropping hail the size of ping pong balls. While it didn't feel lucky at the time, we really were lucky that all we caught were those white streaks, which turned out to be the hardest most consuming sheets of rain I've ever had to drive through. When the rain first reached my car it seemed to hit from the side more than it did from above. My Kansas family teases relentlessly for this description but it's really the only way to describe it - I felt like I'd driven my car off the pier and into the ocean, as the wind and water whipped my car around on the highway. I couldn't see a thing.

I flipped on my lights and slowed down, slow enough to see the glow of an exit sign in my headlights. I followed the exit down a slight decline and parked off to the side, where the small overpass provided some relief and a strange view of the storm from beneath. My fiance got out of the truck and ran over to my window, shielding his face from the heavy rain, shouting through my window - the only way out of this is to pass through it, we have to go now, it will only get worse! Reluctantly, I inched my way back onto the highway, death grip on my steering wheel, radio off, praying aloud for fear that I'd just driven within hours of our destination only to wind up dead in a ditch. When the rain lightened up enough the big trucks started to go faster, but I didn't dare, so I had to endure a fresh dumping and splashing with each one's passing. A small red car was backward in the median; a deer lifeless on the side of the road.

Once in the clear, we still had another 150 miles to go. We pulled up to my sister-in-law's apartment well after dark, but we made finally made it!

Next entry: The apartment!