And a very long post to go with it. This is the one where I tell you all about our drive from Las Vegas to New Hampshire.
We spent a Saturday packing up the truck, with the help of a couple of friends and my nephew, who flew in just to help us. We wanted to cover as much ground as possible, so as soon as everything was loaded, we took off. We were on the road around 6pm, headed north.
The first night we spent in Beaver, UT. We didn’t get too far from Vegas because we were pretty worn out from the day of loading up the truck, so we stopped there for the night. When we got up the next morning, there was snow! Greta handled it like a champ, even though it was the first time she’d ever seen snow. It was cold and exciting and there were lots of snowflakes to smell!
Of course, the small amount of snowfall overnight had us a bit worried, but we could see the freeway from the hotel and it looked fine, so we went for it. Well, it wasn’t fine. The snow got heavier and heavier, and there were signs saying that I-70 was closed at Richfield. Thank goodness we weren’t going that way, and by the time we got over the hills towards Salt Lake City, the roads had cleared up.
Salt Lake City was an easy drive, as was the drive into Wyoming. Mister was worried about a section of I-80 in Wyoming known as Three Sisters, which is a series of steep grades and curvy roads. Driving was good through there, so I hardly noticed – I just tried to keep up with Mister in the moving van.
A little ways into Wyoming, the roads got icy pretty quick. I asked Mister to slow down (walkie-talkies are great for traveling in groups), and he did, but I was still having a hard time. All of a sudden, the pickup started fishtailing and I ended up going off the road.
Yeah, that’s the part I didn’t tell you about when I was blogging while we were stuck in Rawlins. I didn’t want to tell anyone until we made it all the way to NH safely.
So I slid off the road, into the grassy area. I missed one of the marker posts by a few inches, but I was stuck. I called to Mister, who stopped as quickly and safely as he could, walked back to me to help digging out. He was smart enough to put a shovel, tire chains, and a couple of bags of salt in the back of the pickup, so he worked at getting me unstuck. Once that was done, it was nearly dark, the roads were worse, and we were still in the middle of nowhere. He let me take the lead so I could go at a speed that I felt was safe, and so that if it happened again he’d see me and be able to stop sooner.
We continued on for another 60 miles to the nearest town, which was Rawlins, and spent 2 days there since the freeway was closed to Cheyenne.
Day 3 was spent stuck in the hotel.
On Day 4, Mister was determined to get out of Wyoming. The freeway was still closed, and didn’t look like it would be open at least until Thursday because high winds blow, which can overturn high profile vehicles (like our moving van), and the winds also blow snow onto the road, which then gets really icy really fast (hence my spinout). We consulted the WY-DOT website, and I talked to a few other people in the lobby, and it was determined that taking US-287 to WY-220 into Casper, then taking I-25 to Cheyenne would be the best bet for getting us out of Wyoming before the end of the week. It was about 5 hours out of the way, but it was better than another day or three in Rawlins.
I felt like I was going to barf from the nerves, but I kept going.
The road to Casper was windy and had some snow and ice on it, but I did pretty good. There were a few cars off the road, but I wasn’t one of them. We stopped at a rest stop about halfway to Casper, and it sounded like the building was going to blow away.
The interstate from Casper to Cheyenne was even windier, and had even more snow blown across the road, so it was slow going but I made it through that too. We saw even more cars spun out on the sides of the road, but again, I wasn’t one of them. Once we made it to Cheyenne, the road was clear, the winds eased up, and we were finally on our way out of Wyoming.
We made it to North Platte, NE. Day 5 was more driving, all the way through the flat, straight roads of Nebraska and Iowa. We made it all the way to Davenport, IA. We also stopped at Iowa 80, which is the world’s biggest truck stop. I had been looking forward to it since we started planning our trip. We did a bit of shopping and had something to eat, which refreshed us for the last 20 minutes to Davenport.
When we woke up on Day 6, it was raining. I was hoping it wouldn’t be icy, since it was near that line of rain that turns to snow on the weather map. I was still freaked out over my spinout, and nervous about driving in the rain. Funny how living in the desert does that to you. I kept a death grip on the steering wheel the whole day, and my shoulders and arms were aching by the time we stopped.
This was also the beginning of the toll roads. Indiana was weird – there are no attendants at all, which thwarted our plans for me to take Mister’s ticket and pay for him as he follows me through. Ohio was better, but Mister was in front of me at the tolls and they didn’t take cards, and he had no cash. I saw him pull up and stop on the side, and when I got to the toll booth, the attendant told me that I had to pay his toll because I didn’t get Mister a Valentine’s Day gift. (I did, but that’s besides the point.) I was just glad to start seeing some of that east coast friendliness that I was missing.
We continued on through Cleveland, alternate routes due to construction, and pouring rain. I’d about had enough of the rain, and I wasn’t able to tell anymore whether or not I was going to spin out because I was starting to hate the rear-wheel drive pickup with no weight in the back, and wished I could be driving my car. Also, I don’t know what it is with rain that completely obliterates any road markings when it rains at night. In any case, we stopped near Erie, PA for the night.
I was determined to make it home on Day 7. It should only have taken 4 days, and the truck was due back on Sunday (it’s now Friday, for anyone keeping track). I was familiar with the NY Thruway and Mass Turnpike, and I’ve driven to and from Toronto to home a few times, so I was confident that it could be done in one day.
It was raining again.
But the Thruway is a fairly easy drive, for the most part. I was a bit worried near Schenectady where it’s a bit hilly, but I really started to freak out as we turned south at Albany to go to Massachusetts. It was getting dark, and I was not looking forward to the Berkshires.
Did I tell you that I don’t like driving through the Berkshires? About the wicked thunderstorms with (I later found out) possible reported tornadoes that I drove through one time? The not exactly flat and smooth road? I really started to freak out big time, and Mister’s walkie talkie was dead because he had left it on all night without charging it. So not only was he going too fast for my liking, I couldn’t get around him to slow him down, couldn’t contact him to tell him to slow down, and there was no way I was going to call him on my cell while I was driving through the sleet (yes, sleet) and a panic attack.
When he finally did stop, I had a chance to calm down. I did not want to get on the road again, but on the other hand I really wanted to get home. So I got back in the pickup and kept driving, talking myself through the panic and telling Greta that we’d make it.
Once I got off the Turnpike, something changed. It wasn’t raining any less than it had been in the last 2 days – in fact, it was raining harder on that last 60 miles – but I knew this route like the back of my hand. I was finally in really familiar territory, and my confidence returned. Mostly.
This is the part where Mister had a hard time keeping up with me.
We finally made it, dropped the moving truck off at our new home and went to my Dad’s, where my stepmother had the guest room and dinner ready for us. I tried to relax my arms and shoulders from my weeklong death grip on the steering wheel, and we both slept very, very soundly.
So that’s my trip. I’m not really looking forward to any long drives in the near future, but if I have to, I hope that the weather is warmer and drier than we had on this trip.