WE MADE IT TO CALIFORNIA.
It did not go perfectly, but we made it.
Two days into our cross-country drive, we got snowed into Cheyenne, Wyoming, where it was -15 degrees. In related news, if you’ve ever wondered what happens to dog poop in minus-15-degree weather…it freezes almost immediately, and your dog will be very confused about what’s happening to his butt.
After all I’ve said about the Midwest, our drive through it before the snow and ice began was relatively kind. Iowa was unexpectedly one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen through a car window, and Nebraska, at least, had a sense of humor.
Jonathan and I spent our time in Cheyenne watching Loxley try to negotiate a comically oversized dog bone we got him as a road trip gift, and browsing the Monterey Bay “rants and raves” section on Craigslist to get an idea about the kind of people who we’ll soon call our neighbors. (So far it’s mostly people who believe aliens are abducting humans with only good intentions, and Australians who miss kangaroos.)
A day delayed, we then headed to our next pit stop: Winnemucca, Nevada. This is where things got a little…stressful.
We never made it to Winnemucca, Nevada. Long story short, my car (and my anxiety) cannot handle driving in winter conditions. I made it through seven or eight hours of drifting on and off the interstate through wind, ice, and uncontrollable sobs, before forcing Jonathan and his SUV (both doing arguably better than I was) to call it quits in Salt Lake City and delay our trip another day.
A few other crises and one day later, the road conditions got better and we decided to drive straight from Utah to California. It went fine, until I was THREE HOURS away from our destination, driving through the mountains in California. At which point a large chunk of a semi-truck tire flew off the truck’s wheel and collided immediately with my car.
I want to take a moment to recognize my good fortune in this situation. Had the flying debris hit me six inches higher, it would have crashed through my windshield. Had the event occurred 60 seconds sooner, it would have happened just around an exposed bend of the mountain, where the afternoon sun was causing poor visibility. Had the following events transpired five minutes slower, the nearest auto-body shop would have been closed.
Naturally, I sold the full story of this trip to the highest bidder, so for more details check out my article for NextGen MilSpouse.
For now, Jonathan, the dog, and I are safe in California. We’re spending the next month in a hotel, waiting for our permanent housing to become vacant (that’s another story in itself, but I’m saving it so that I can accumulate all my PCS mistakes into one big list of self-loathing). Jonathan saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time. Loxley is three-quarters of the way through his comically oversized dog bone. It is 60 degrees today in Monterey, and they sell Vodka at Target.
And for your viewing pleasure, here is a series of photographs I’d like to call “America through car windows, some of which were very dirty”: