Hell and the highway froze over
November 5, 2002
I’ve been to hell and can say without a doubt that while I was there it was frozen over. In my case, though, hell was spelled W-Y-O-M-I-N-G.
I was there when daytime highs were peaking at 19. Trapped in a moving van barreling down the road atop two inches of solid ice at 15-25 mph. That’s a fast pace for one aiming to complete a 1,500-mile journey in two days.
I was in hell helping my best bud with her move.
I’m sure Wyoming is a beautiful place, but I couldn’t tell you anything about it. Visibility was about one-quarter mile in either direction of Interstate 80. Snow was falling horizontally, and the truckers were flying by. Those guys and gals have nerves — or maybe something else — of steel. I’m not sure just what it is that makes them think they could stop any better than I, but they raced on.
Most of them fared well, but a few rigs and their trailers were lodged in the median in various stages of contortion.
Each was a sobering reminder that I was in hell.
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So far on our two-day journey, which was in Day Three when we hit ice, the moving van had overheated, stranding us in a church parking lot. I had locked the keys inside and had to wait for a nice man with a tool to let me back in. And we had made one emergency potty stop.
I was third in line of a caravan of three. In all we were four adults, two cats, two dogs and two children headed to the American heartland.
The days dawned cloudy and cold. Though I had packed sweats, jacket and turtle neck, I was wishing there was room in my gym bag for an Arctic-style parka.
I’m a native Nevadan and a skier but I was not prepared for the COLD. I typically spend the winters running around in shorts and sweatshirts except for when it’s snowing. I guess I have to draw the line somewhere. If I can keep my hands and feet warm I generally do OK, even if I’m going around with naked knees.
But there was no way I was wearing shorts on this quest. I’m not quite as dumb as I look after all. We fared well — no accidents, injuries or major trauma — just a lot of drama and even more junk food. We ate sunflower seeds, chocolate, anything crunchy and salty; it was a nutritionist’s nightmare.
Like I said, I was in hell.
Mostly though I was in hell because I was saying farewell to my friend. My friend who is more like a sister to me and a mother to my daughter than just a friend. We’ve been friends since my daughter was 2 and before her children were born. Saying goodbye to her is one of the hardest things I’ve done in a long time.
She is only halfway across the country, but she may as well be halfway around the world. I have a sneaking hunch that I will soon begin to fear the telephone bill’s arrival in the mail.
That said, I’m very glad to be home. Glad to have rescued the last of my carrots from the ground and glad to see our thermometer registering temperatures that are not obscene.
And glad the election is today. Please everyone, exercise your right to vote.
Kelli Du Fresne is features editor for the Nevada Appeal.