After a peaceful Christmas Day this year I had the opportunity to help my daughter, Cheri, move to Denton, Texas where she will attend graduate school. The drive from Provo where she has been living for the past nine years to Denton, Texas is approximately 1,200 miles and 20 hours of driving time. With that knowledge we set about making plans to move Cheri over the Christmas break.
Travel plans have several variables, notably the distance you need to travel and the average speed you are able to drive. In the west we are blessed with long stretches of interstate freeway where the speed limit is 75 to 80 mph. With good weather we were optimistic that we could accomplish our drive over two days, allowing me enough time to catch a flight back to Salt Lake City four days later, thus allowing us a couple of days for a contingency. As it turned out, we needed every second.
We had some help loading the moving van on Wednesday night and got the job done quickly. I will always be in awe of the willingness of strangers when someone is in need of help loading or unloading a houseful of furniture. In Provo we had one complete stranger who showed up to help load our van. He was living a few doors down and when he heard that my daughter needed help with some boxes, he was happy to help.
With the moving truck loaded we tried to get a few hours of sleep before our long drive to Texas. When we woke up on Thursday morning it had been snowing most of the night. With no other options but to get in the car and drive, that’s what we did. Our first segment was 60 miles to Price, Utah, normally a one hour drive. Because of the weather it took us three hours. Early on we realized that nothing was going to go as easy as we had planned.
As we pressed on throughout the day the weather really turned on us, cutting our visibility down to about two car lengths ahead of us. With snow and ice coating the roads we prayed for some small miracle to help us out of this predicament. Almost the second we finished our prayer my daughter said, “Hey, there’s a hotel.” We exited immediately and tried to slide our way up the hill to our refuge for the night.
What we couldn’t have predicted was that it would snow 18 inches overnight, making a mess in this small town where we had stopped. It was at 4pm the next day when we decided to continue our journey.
Little did we know that after about ten miles on Interstate 40, traffic came to a standstill. When I say that traffic wasn’t moving, I mean it in the most literal sense. For six hours we sat, occasionally moving maybe a few dozen feet, but our cumulative total for the six hours was about 100 yards.
Traffic was moving so slow that when our odometer hit 100 miles since we had left the hotel that afternoon, it had taken us ten hours to do so. At this point in time it was Saturday morning and we finally drove out of the east side of the winter blizzard. With renewed optimism we kept driving, hoping to get to Denton in time for Cheri to check into the apartment she had rented online and over the phone. By the time we got to the apartment complex it was 2 p.m. and four volunteers from her new congregation had shown up to help us unload the moving truck.
Things were looking up, or so we dared to believe. Upon signing a few papers we were handed a set of keys. It took us about ten minutes to find the apartment, which required us to go between two of the apartment buildings and around to the back where a drainage ditch and a one-foot wide sidewalk were there to greet us. It was as sketchy of a set-up as I have ever seen for an apartment complex. We went back to the office and declined their offer to let us rent that apartment.
The next three hours were frantic, but with the help of the good Lord we were able to find a suitable apartment and arrange for Cheri to move in the following Monday. With the day coming to a close I was dropped off at the Dallas airport for my flight back to Salt Lake City where I had left my truck. Though delayed for a mechanical issue, I finally made the flight home. When I crawled into bed early the next morning I realized it had been 44-hours since I had last slept.
I was tired but grateful that everything came together despite all the challenges! Thankfully, graduate school is two years so I have time to rest before we go do it all over again.