Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Holiday Road Part 1

This past week, I was on a cross country trip to help ex-GF-Unit Jessica move to Arizona.  I am still not sure of all my reasons why I agreed to do this.  Part of it has to do with me liking her as a friend and wanting to help her be happy, part has to do with wanting her far away so we can go get on with our lives, part of it has to do with wanting to see the Grand Canyon, part of has to do with her families horrible sense of direction, and partly because I am stupid...and a bunch of other reasons too.

The plan was to leave at 6am on Tuesday morning.  That way we could get to our first stopping point, Estes Park CO, in plenty of time and enjoy the some of the sights like Big Thompson Canyon.  I stopping in at Jessica's on my lunch hour on Monday to see how packing was finishing up.  It wasn't.  To my frustration, she wasn't nearly as packed as she could have been.  You would think for knowing about a cross country trip for about 10 months that you would have time to prepare.  But this has always been one of the reasons that we weren't compatible.  I would think  I would be used to it and not surprised...but I still was.  I went back to work, finished up what I could and then headed over to help pack.

The family truckster may have once looked
like it was a little rusty, covered
in dings, dents and scratches.
Our family truckster started out looking as
bad as the Griswold's looked at the
end of the movie.
We packed from 4pm to 5:30am.  I was very angry and just wanted to get on the road...but Jessica had to pick up some items from family so we missed our original start time.  With the family truckster (2002 Kia Sedona - You think you hate it now, but wait till you drive it) finally loaded we ended up leaving about 9am.  It felt good to finally be on our way, but it didn't last long.  We made it almost a whole 10 minutes on the road before our first problem - many electronics including the radio, the clock, the temperature gauge, etc... were not working.  Although it was going to be a long trip, I was prepared to go without, just to get going.  I happened to check the windshield wipers and they were also not working.  This was not good news as several storms systems were scheduled to cross our path.  We pulled off the first exit into the old downtown area of Waukee to get it fixed.  Luckily it was just a blown fuse from someone trying to charge their cell phone with a cord that did not go with the cell phone.  Being very frustrated after being awake over 24 hours and with an 11 hour drive ahead of us, I made Jessica drop me off in the old town square/park or Waukee while the car was getting fixed.  It didn't take too long, but with the detour and the fixing it added a little over an hour to the trip already.  Jessica has no idea how close I was to just walking off and saying "Well....see ya" at this point.  I was SO close...if the repairs had taken much longer, I probably would have been gone.  Everything was pointing to this being a horrible trip, and often times when stuff continually goes wrong, I take it as god telling me not do this...I sort of had the feeling that I would be eaten by a bear.

It looked nice from the road but was abandoned
photo courtesy of wikimedia commons
I stayed with it, and finally, a little bit after 4 hours behind schedule, we were back on the road...again.  The next 12 hours involved, driving for a couple hours while Jessica rested before switching places.  It was a long day...mostly driving and not much happening.  One of the strangest things to happen was stopping in Sedgwick, CO.  Sam (Jess' son) needed to go to the bathroom and this was the nearest stop.  I was a little scared because the sign said "Population: 191" but it also said there was a gas station.  We didn't need gas at the moment but would need to stop in the near future so we thought we might as well fill up while we are here.  There was a nice looking gas station right off the ramp...but unfortunately it was closed and abandoned.  There was a smaller, older gas station just down the block.  It was pretty bizarre...out of 8 pumps, one pump worked...the others were missing hoses, missing nozzles, or taped down with "out of order" and "not working" signs on them.  You might say "Well they just don't get that much business to need all those pumps."  Which might be true, but the 20 minutes that I was there there were 3 other cars waiting to use this another might have been nice.  It has been a long time since I have used one of the vintage 1970's gas pumps with the rolling slot machine style numbers and had the clerk come out and check the pump for the dollar amount.  Other great things about this gas station - door knobs on bathrooms did not work, had to use a sliding bolt lock to keep door shut, and they "just got a machine to run the credit cards a couple weeks ago."  It was pretty obvious that no money had been put into this place in 30 years.  It is not the most hilly billy place I have ever been but it is probably in the top ten.  Sorry I don't have a photo...but I would suggest trying to avoid Sedgwick if possible.

Seeing the mountains come into view was like a godsend.
Sunset on the Mountains...Picture by Jessica.
We finally made it to Estes Park and our hotel around 10:30pm.  You have no idea how happy I was when the mountains finally came into gave me my 28th wind of the day(s).  It did make me laugh at the "stupid" GPS when we only had 32 miles left and it was still saying about an hour and a half drive time.  The GPS was right...the canyon curved around so much that it did take much longer than I would have guessed...when you plot out an 11+ hour looks much straighter than it actually ends up being. Hadn't really eaten much all day and every place was done delivering...but sleep was much more important than food, so I flopped on the bed and was asleep within a couple minutes.  I was disappointed that we didn't have more time to enjoy Big Thompson was dark when we drove through and the driving is a little tense.  Mostly the entire day sucked but it felt good to sleep after being awake 40+ hours and on the road for about 12 hours.

Day 1: ~700 miles, ~12 hours drive time

To be continued....


Dixon said...

Well, this blog series certainly has all the makings of being epic. Off to a fantastic start.

Shannonnicolle said...

JB's right. My interest is piqued. I expect a dead dog to be drug behind the Sedona at some point in the trip.

BTW, my aunt lives in the Big Thompson Canyon. Actually, the Big Thompson (not really so big in reality) runs through her backyard. About half way between Loveland and Estes Park, in the canyon, there's a little gifts and jam and jellies store. The name includes something about cherries. Anyway, she lives just behind it. Rusty and I try to get out there once a year to visit. We see mountains from every window in her house.