They promise "Adventures in Moving" and yes, I had a few.
I was off last week because I flew home to Colorado to catch the end of the ski season (but fear not, a couple of areas ARE still open!) and clear out several years' worth of accumulated stuff from my place in the mountains. My niece Molly, the ski instructor, warned me that conditions weren't exactly prime after a winter of less-than-ideal snow cover and several days of bright sunshine and temperatures near 70. So, for the first time in my life, when presented with an opportunity to ski--I sat it out.
My dear sister Becky (Molly's mom) helped me pack and then load the U-Haul trailer and my trusty all-wheel-drive minivan. We hopped in before dawn Monday and headed out--into the teeth of a howling blizzard. Where was all this snow in January?
I enjoy road trips and there aren't many driving situations that leave me clenching the wheel...but pulling a heavily-loaded trailer over a 12-thousand-foot mountain pass in a raging spring snowstorm isn't something I'd like to do every day. The distance I would usually cover in 30 minutes on a dry day required almost two hours in the storm. I took it easy, downshifted a lot, tried not to touch the brakes and fought off the panic in those moments when I began to slide. Finally, I made it up and down the pass. I stopped at the bottom to breathe a sigh of relief and grab some coffee. I caught sight of the rig I'd been pulling for the last 30 miles and burst out laughing. My trailer had grown a double-chin...of ice!
I knocked off the ice to save weight (at least 100 pounds) and headed east. Just as I dropped down the last major hill into Denver, trouble came calling once again--the left rear tire blew on the trailer. Four hours into this cross-country trip and things were NOT going well.
But the tire was fixed and off we went...on a zig-zag trip to visit family. To Nebraska to see my dear
Uncle Ken and Aunt Norma whose farm was the center point of so many childhood memories. An enjoyable stay with our cousin Susan, their only girl among four brothers and the only one of my cousins to go into farming (with a little help from her wonderful husband, Jerry!) My newly-minted 2nd Lieutenant son was supposed to be on the itinerary at Ft. Riley, Kansas, but as often happens in Army life, he was pulled away on a week-long training exercise. So we skipped Kansas and headed to Michigan for a visit with our brother and his family. Then a swing through Chicago and Pittsburgh and, nearby, a truly emotional visit to the Flight 93 Memorial. If you haven't been there, please consider going. More on that in a future post.
Along the way Becky and I reminisced about all the family vacations we'd enjoyed as kids, packed with our many siblings in a succession of station wagons touring this beautiful nation. What could have been a grueling excursion became a laugh-fest, a chance to reconnect with family members and a sister, a time to remember all the fun of childhood. It felt awfully lonely in the driver's seat after I dropped her at the Dulles airport where she'd left her car. Becky headed south to her home in Virginia while I headed north to New York. After a blizzard, a blowout and a journey of 2,133 miles in approximately 92 hours, I walked in my front door at 3:45 a.m.
Great trip. Great country!