Monday, February 15, 2016

Minnesota and back in four days

 I'd like to say I'm making a long story short, but I had to suffer through it, so I thought I'd share the whole shitten mess with you guys. The people we went to go help move were great friends who lived next door to us. We helped them move two years ago, and took over the property next door. Life there hasn't been nice to them, and we went to help bring them home to Idaho. They drove the first trip here with the first load of stuff and made it here early last week. We were waiting for another friend to come up from Nevada, so Scott and I took off Thursday morning with the Uhaul trailer and Andrea (the friend being rescued) and Honey (from Nevada) were heading out the next morning.

We were taking turns driving and were going to jest drive straight through for the 24 hours to get there. Everything was going fine and I was sleeping.
Dozing more like it, cause you all know, you can't really sleep while driving cross country. You startle awake at every pothole, bridge crossing, swerve back into your lane when your driving partner is distracted by something they see off in the distance. So 3:30 in the morning and I'm started awake by an "oh Fuck ME!" We're jest over the border into North Dakota. We're jest a couple hundred feet past the on ramp from this dinky town of Beach. Scott's lost the steering in the truck. We're in a 3/4 ton, 4 wheel drive, 4 door, long bed Dodge truck pulling a uhaul. And it's snowing. And 18 degrees outside.

He gets out and looks under the hood. The serpentine belt is broke. It controls everything. Power steering, power brakes, the water pump- it's what heats the inside of the truck. It's all fucked. It's everything he can do to muscle the steering wheel around even a little bit and we can't get the trailer to back straight. Scott is trying to back the truck and trailer back up the freeway far enough the get it turned around and back up the on ramp. But we can't steer. Screw it. He put it in 4 wheel drive and man handled it around and through the median and back up the other side of the off ramp. And this is where he realized we didn't have any brakes to go with the no steering.

There's two little motels in the shitty town of Beach. Neither of them had a night attendant to rent us a room. We ended up parked in front of this redneck looking repair shop at four in the morning. They didn't open till eight. It's 18 degrees and snowing, and we don't have any heat in the truck. Luckily we did pack our carhartt overalls, but it was a cold bitch, trying to sleep in the truck so we didn't notice how cold it was. I had put up a post on a farm and ranch gals group on my Facebook, jest for them to think good thoughts for us. Turns out one of the gals and her husband lived not too far away, and at 7 in the morning they pull up in the parking lot of this repair shop. They took us to breakfast, got us warmed up, and kept us company till the repair shop opened. Totally amazing people. The repair shop got the truck a new idler pulley and a new serpentine belt, and we got on our way, but it put us about 6 hours behind schedule.

We got to Minnesota in time to shower and go to bed. Honey and Andrea  showed up the next morning. We were supposed to start loading up everything that was packed into the camper trailer we were hauling back for them, but it's -24 degrees and the bastard trailer has a flat tire. The valve stem froze and broke. Andrea's brother had the spare on, but it's max psi is 65 pounds. The other tire is 88 pounds, and we have the camper loaded to the gills, so it's lopsided. We gotta get it swapped out before we can take off. Honey is pulling a 5th wheel horse trailer and she heads out the same time as us, with Andrea driving her car and her friends Josh and Michelle driving their truck with the last of whatever we could pack into it. They were gonna head out 6 hours later after Andrea got some sleep. Only now we're another hour and a half behind getting the camper tire fixed.

Scott is sleeping so he can swap out with either me or Honey, and let the other sleep. Three drivers, two rigs. I'm leading out and as we get to Fargo North Dakota the wind is kicking up, and it starts to snow. Valley City and it's turned into a blizzard. Both trucks are big 4 wheel drives, but I can't see shit. It's almost a complete white out, and anyone who's gone to the beach know the feeling of vertigo I'm feeling. When you look down only at your feet as the wave washes back out, and even though you know you aren't moving, you feel like you're falling backwards.... Yeah, I felt a little like that with the snow blowing sideways at me. The snow wasn't sticking due to the 8 degree temp, and the driving wind. I was not a happy camper. Honey woke up and Scott was driving her truck in front of me to lead out. I almost thought we were gonna be ok till we could get to Jacksonville and get a hotel room for the night. And then some asshole truck driver thinks he's gonna be a hero and go whipping past us in white out conditions. The powdery snow  storm he kicked up behind him blinded me. I honestly could not see anything, and had no idea where I was or where I was going. I started out in the right hand lane and by the time I got the rig stopped, I was almost facing the median. Fuck. This. When I could see again, Scott was pulled off on the shoulder and half up the off ramp. We got off the free way. The trucker pulled over a couple hundred feet further.

I don't know if i was too stupid to have a reaction when it was such dangerous driving, or if i was jest pretty cool in a dangerous situation, but when we got off the freeway it set in. It started a a fine tremor in my thighs. It wasn't soon after that I was sick to my stomach and shaking like a leaf. My body was vibrating like I'd jest had a whole pot off coffee and a case of energy drinks, and I wanted to go run a marathon. I didn't want to drive any more that night. I was all for jest sitting on the off ramp and waiting for the storm to blow out.

We talk it over and after the trucker moves off again, we decide to creep the next five miles to Jacksonville for a hotel room. Scott is driving for me, and Honey is in front of us. Only, when she crossed over to get back on the on ramp to the freeway, it wasn't straight across and the snow was 8 inches deep over here. She missed the ramp and drove over the edge of the road. She wasn't far off on the side of the on ramp, but even with 4 wheel drive, these trucks aren't geared for off roading, and they're heavy. She's stuck. There's no getting her out. A highway patrol saw us and came up to help, but once he saw no damage and no injuries, there were cars off the freeway all over the place and he had to go. We had to call a big rig wrecker, the kind that can tow an 18 wheeler, in a blizzard, to come get us out. The trooper gave us the number of someone to call. We did manage to get to Jacksonville and get a hotel.

Josh, Michelle and Andrea caught up to us the next evening. I was leading the four vehicle convoy and it seemed every time I got to driving in the truck on my own the weather went to shit. I'm driving this big truck, pulling a big camper, through these winding mountain passes, having to pass these 18 wheelers, while it's sleeting and snowing, keeping an eye on the vehicles following me so I don't run to far out a head of them, since I'm navigating the whole production.

Coming down out of the mountains and finally into Idaho we hit another white out, This time fog. Miles and miles of fog. We were planning on getting back to town sometime in the early evening on Sunday. It was more like 5:30 in the morning, very early this morning (Monday). I had to get up at 7 to be at work. And God bless Scott. We had a whole house full of people. I abandoned him. I went right to the bedroom, got into bed and tried to sleep. He found the air mattress, the extra bedding and pillows and made sure everyone was situated. Stayed up and fed the horses and the chickens. What a trip. 

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