Wednesday, December 3, 2008

2,016 Miles Later

Day 1: Beginners Optimism
Mercersburg, PA to St. Louis, MO

States Crossed: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and half of Missouri
Total Driven: 734 Miles

This morning we left Mercersburg at around 8am. During the beginning of the day I wanted to track where we were at every hour of the journey. By hour four, that got boring. We made good time driving, but we also stopped several times to make the trip easier on Calvin. We had previously bought a DVD player to put on the back of the headrest so that the boy had something to keep him occupied. Mid-way through the day, we’d run through most of the Baby Einstein collection, so we stopped at a Walmart in Illinois and picked up some Veggie Tales and Little Einstein DVD’s. We took a long lunch break, and had to stop because I drank too much soda. We were still in the honeymoon phase for most of the drive, but by the time we pulled into St. Louis at 9pm, Calvin was screeching shrilly, Andy was mad that the directions to the hotel were off, and I couldn’t wait to stand up. We checked into the practically empty Embassy Suites, ate frozen Macaroni dinners for our Thanksgiving feast, talked about how sad we were to have left home, and how we dreaded driving the same amount tomorrow. Calvin took a bath and laughed hysterically at how the slippery bar of soap would shoot out of his hands anytime he tried to grab it.

Day 2: Endless Monotony

St. Louis, MO to Denver, CO

States Crossed: half of Missouri, Kansas, and half of Denver

Total Driven: 850 Miles

Kansas is so long. Just today I have become a compulsive eater in attempts to block out the boredom of Kansas, and the obnoxiousness of Veggie Tales. I ate cheetos, chocolate covered orange sticks, and Nutter Butters with reckless abandon. We stopped at Walmart in Russell, KS for more Veggie Tales and a Little Tikes cartoon. Hours later we stopped for gas in Goodland, KS and the nice Sherriff told us that if we wanted food or anything worthwhile, we should move on to Colorado because there was nothing good there. He also told us about his two year old and that his wife was expecting and that 70 East was getting snow and that Burlington, CO had a Burger King.

We were thrilled when we hit Colorado, until just outside of Denver we were pelted with a blizzard. I couldn’t see the road in front of me, and was so relieved when we finally made it to our hotel. We checked into the Embassy Suites, ate Subway Flatbread Melts, and let Calvin run around the halls before heading to bed early.

Day 3: Frozen Hell

Denver, CO to Eagle, CO

States Crossed: an itty-bitty portion of Colorado

Total Driven: 130 Miles

This morning we woke up to snow. Outside of the hotel were a nice group of highway patrol men, so we asked them about the weather. My dad had suggested we take 25 up to 80 instead of trying to go through the Denver mountain passes in the snow. The nice officer assured us that 25 was covered in snow and accidents, Wyoming doesn’t know how to shovel their roads, and that we would be better off just going on Colorado’s very clear, very safe roads, even if it was snowing. Liar. We were about 40 minutes outside of Denver when we hit the magical combination of bumper to bumper Thanksgiving weekend traffic, blinding snow, ice packed roads, and winding mountain passes with drop offs on either side. It was a very tense drive to say the least, and after several hours of my car fishtailing any time I moved, the blinding white snow, Calvin screeching angrily because he was bored of not moving and his disc was skipping, and Veggie Tales singing the same horrible and obnoxious songs over and over because that’s what the skip made them do, I was half tempted to drive off a cliff.

After a white-knuckle drive from 8am to 3pm, we stopped for lunch in Eagle, CO where after yet another Flatbread Melt at Subway, my car would inch forward but wouldn’t accelerate. The nice officer that pulled up behind me told me to call a tow truck and grab a cup of coffee because 70 was closed anyway due to a huge accident. It should clear up soon, he said, but might as well wait where it was warm. We wandered around for 40 minutes, at which point my car worked perfectly, and then headed on our way. We made it 13 miles before we were stopped for the next 2.5 hours while they cleared out the accident. It was a massive parking lot of people. Most were out wandering the roadside, walking their dogs, taking a smoke, and enjoying having nowhere to go on the mountain pass.

After 2.5 hours of waiting, they sent us all back to Eagle, CO. Luckily Andy had figured out that they were turning people around before most others did, so I called a hotel we had seen in town and booked us a room. When we got to the hotel, they were completely sold out and people were griping about paying $205 for a crappy room – a hiked up rate that was applied after the hotel manager realized they had hit a jackpot for the evening. We got a cheap room because we had reserved a room before the mobs attacked. Wendy’s was sold out of hamburgers, chicken, chili, and everything else but chicken nuggets that would take 30 minutes to bring out of freezer storage, so we had Subway Flatbread melts yet again. Andy, bless his heart, went out in the snow and got one of the last ones before Subway was out of food as well.

Day 4: Final Destination

Eagle, CO to New Home, UT

States Crossed: half of Colorado, and half of Utah

Total Driven: 347 Miles

Today was blissfully uneventful. Woke up to the hotel breakfast of biscuits and gravy and waffles, and listened to people voice the conspiracy theory that Andy had voiced the night before. No one had actually seen an accident, or the reported helicopters to life-flight out the poor soul who had caused it. The theory is that there was no accident. That because it was a holiday weekend with thousands of people on route 70, if they closed the highway right at sun down, people would be forced to return to one of three very small mountain towns and throw their money into the CO economy by buying out hotels, restaurants and gas stations.

We headed out at 6am before most people were back on the road. When the sky started to light up, the scenery was gorgeous. The mountains were incredible with all of the snow and the sun peeking over the tips. We stopped and took some pictures. It snowed lightly until Grand Junction, and then we had clear roads all the way into Utah. We had another large summit to pass, and then were so happy as we finally winded down into the valley. I think the purpose of the arduous journey was that by the time we finally arrived, we were just so happy to be here. Happy to be Home.