Wednesday, January 14, 2009

No, it wasn't what I'd expected -- jcarolek

In early December I was very much looking forward to an adventure. I'd never driven across the US and I had the opportunity, time and inclination to do so. So it was that, after a final, rushed week in Kansas for work, I flew out to CA where I met up with my friend who was to join me in this adventure.

Before we could leave, we had to pack our load. We were bringing a fair amount of product I'd secured out in CA, back to VA. All we needed was a little good weather to accommodate our packing and we'd be on our way. Genuinely ignorant of CA's diverse weather, I was a little surprised when my friend cautioned me that flights in and out of Fresno were being canceled due to fog...."great," I thought, as I sat in the Kansas City airport.... "with my luck I'll end up sleeping in airports for days just trying to get a start on this adventure."

Well, the day I flew into Fresno, the fog had lifted and I was not delayed. In its place, however, was cold... really cold... weather. No matter. The cold weather wouldn't last long. All we needed were 3-5 really good days and we'd be packed and on our way. Uh huh.... yep, sure.... enter the SNOW. Now, wait just one moment. Isn't it ENOUGH already that it is colder than it is in VA... do we also have to contend with snow? But, of course, the weather insisted on having her way with us and our 3-5 days stretched into 21 days... yes, 21 days of snow, or ice, or pouring rain, but always COLD. OK, we did manage to get a couple of days that warmed up into the 40's and we thought we were experiencing summer, but really, most of our work was outdoors and the weather really slowed us down.

Nevertheless, we made the best of the weather we were given, working long hours into the nights, and even right into the mornings, when there wasn't "stuff" actively falling from the sky. Every day we assured ourselves we were "almost done" and "it wouldn't be long now." And one day, we were actually right... Well, I use the word "day" liberally... it was 2 AM when we finally pulled out and started our adventure.

Now, obviously, the delays in CA meant our journey was not to be a relaxed one. In fact, it was clear I would not begin the new year working from my home office, but rather, working from the comfort of the van. Thank goodness for the modern workplace conveniences. The weather appeared to be making us favorable promises as dawn broke and we stopped to take some photos of the Joshua trees. Yes, CA is truly beautiful and I'm glad we captured that dawn. Morning in Arizona was all about blue skies and puffy white clouds, and our visions of long awaited warmth were dancing before our eyes even as afternoon began to tell a different story.

The clouds turned from wispy white, texturing the vivid blue sky, to ominous gray, challenging the blue sky for space and eventually declaring victory, as the weather reports promised snow for the late afternoon and evening. We had to change routes and do so quickly, or we would be stuck who knows where in who knows how deep of snow for who knows how long thank you!

So we headed south, in an attempt to outrun the bad weather. We saw many sights we'd have loved to stop and photograph, but we were in a desperate race and determined to win. The van was strong and pulled the small utility trailer, laden with neatly, arduously, packed boxes, up and down the mountains, around the snaking, steeply graded roads, and I was happy we weren't making this journey in my little Hyundai!

In Arizona we finally took a nap at a rest area. 12 hours later, we were back on the road and, naturally, headed into more horrid weather. We did NOT have to drive in snow on the trip. We did successfully avoid that one, but we were given the opportunity to drive in freezing rain that coated the van and trailer in thick ice with 6 inch icicles hanging from the wheel wells of the van. And when we finally made it to Lousiana, it was to the tune of torrential downpours. The rains stayed with us the ENTIRE way and it was with some relief we finally saw the
"Welcome to Virginia" sign. By this time, I'd lost much interest in looking out the window. All I was seeing was ice, rain, wind and wrecked cars. We could not believe how many wrecks we saw on the 3200+ mile journey.

Happy that we were "almost home," we stopped for a final gas fill-up and a snack about 35 miles from home. Curiously, the rain had now stopped and we could take off our coats when we pumped gas... it was a little warmer than we'd been encountering. And then we got back on I-64 heading east toward Gloucester......

I felt it, well, we both felt it, and we looked in the mirror to see it.... the trailer, the neatly packed little utility trailer that had climbed every mountain, forded every stream, followed every rainbow.... well..... it was suddenly swinging freely from one side to the other...something was wrong and my friend and driver slowed to the side of the road, in an attempt to save the load. The safety chain broke and the trailer was on her own, out in the middle of the highway, dancing with the oncoming traffic in a curious twilight-zonish scene.

She eventually came to rest with the help of a semi which clipped her back left corner. Three guys later, the van and the trailer were on the left shoulder, AAA had been called and we were entertaining the Virginia Highway Patrolman. All were amazed at the little trailer who, throughout HER big adventure, never spilled her load. They oohed and ahhed at the broken hitch and the broken chain. They theorized as to the reason for the trailer failure 30 miles from home, when she'd withstood so much in inclement conditions.

And in the end, we did what we are always cautioned not to do. We literally put the cart before the horse. Yep, we loaded that little trailer, still valiantly clinging to her goods, onto the flatbed truck provided by AAA and we followed her home.

After collecting the pets from their various "sitters" that Wednesday evening one week ago, we ate something and called it a night. In fact, besides work, which I MUST do, we did very little for the next two days. On the weekend, we prepared the garage to accommodate the load, still on the trailer, tightly tarped against the elements. And Sunday night, after literally spending the entire weekend on the project, we were done. We were unpacked, everything was in its place, our damages were assessed and we declare victory.

We also decided that we really need to take another trip across the country...

in better weather
without time constraints
soonBut we DID get some photos of our adventure.....


Loading Her Up

Judy Entertains the VHP

More VHP Stop By

Cart Before the Horse.... trailer makes her way home

Well, at least the sky is finally blue again!

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