Sunday, April 16, 2006

Head 'em up. Move 'em out.

After several near-disasters like forgotten chests of drawers (full of our best clothes), the doors on the moving van were finally closed on Thursday evening. Since we were completely exhausted and it was already getting dark, we drove 40 miles north and crashed in a Best Western in Pearland, TX. In the past, I would have turned my nose up at Best Western, but I've changed my mind now because unlike most other hotels you can find along the highway, Best Westerns nearly always allows pets. This is hugely important with two dogs on a long trip.

Day 1
On Friday morning, we started our trip in earnest, with plans to stop for the night in Wichita, Kansas. Traffic was noxious in Houston, and even more so in Dallas, and the first leg of the trip was more than two hours longer than we anticipated. We collapsed in another Best Western when we finally arrived in Wichita. Incidentally, southern Oklahoma is oddly beautiful.

Day 2
Our plans for day two were to drive across the plains of Kansas and spend the night in Cheyenne, Wyoming. We accomplished this with no problems, in spite of having to pass through a particularly strange kind of dusty windstorm that the National Weather Service has recently decided to call a "gustnado." I had started out the day driving, but fortunately, by the time we met up with the dusty gusty, DH had taken over -- he deals with such things much better than I do. It's also good he was driving because I came down with a severe headache and my ibuprofen was packed in the trunk somewhere.

When the headache first appeared, I attributed it to stress, the strain of driving in the bright sun with no sunglasses, and later, to the approaching low pressure system that accompanied the dust storm, but then I saw a sign listing the current elevation, nearly 5,000 feet above sea-level, and I realised it could be the beginnings of altitude sickness, which I'm particularly susceptable to. This susceptability is, by the way, quite frustrating -- I seem to get it at lower altitudes than most people; it doesn't go away quickly; and it feels not unlike the worst hangover ever. Still, we made the drive to Cheyenne with no other problems, and I was still able to appreciate the gorgeous scenery as we headed into the Rockies. The Hitchin' Post, our hotel in Cheyenne, boasts a steak house. When we found this out, DH and I had one immediate, collective thought: room service. It was lovely. The warning of a potential problem didn't come until we were nearly finished; a spring snow storm was predicted for the Northern Rockies. Big Problem.

Day 3 - Easter Sunday
When I woke up this morning, I felt like I'd spent the night in a tequila drinking contest. Not a good beginning. I checked the weather and proceeded to freak out. Heavy snow was (and is) predicted for both of the routes we can use to cross the Rockies. I don't enjoy steep mountain passes under the best conditions, but the combination of feeling sick and heavy snow is just plain daunting. Added to that, the movers took our warm coats by accident, so all we have are a couple of sweatshirts, and today is Easter -- a lot of places are closed, so finding a place to stay could be difficult if the weather got too bad. But DH wanted to continue, and I initially agreed; we really need to get to Washington. Still, worry was nagging me and I finally convinced DH that we should stay an extra day in Cheyenne. A few stores are open and the idea was to get chains for the car tires and a couple of cheap ski jackets. DH was nice about it, although he clearly thought I was nuts. However, nuts or not, my foreboding was justified; a couple of hours later, we went out to the car and found a completely flat tire. If that had happened on a deserted road, on Easter, in the middle of a snow storm, we would be campers, but NOT happy ones!

So, we are still in Cheyenne. There were no coats nor tire chains to be found, though we were able to snag a couple of extra sweatshirts from the WalMart. There was also nowhere to get the tire fixed on Easter, so we will have to do that before starting out tomorrow. We hope to make it to either Salt Lake City, Utah or Twin Falls, Idaho tomorrow. Hopefully, without meeting any significant snowfall!

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