I'm picking up this neglected blog to share how our journey has unfolded over the last several months. In case you don't know us personally, we've moved from the Pacific NW of the United States, to Saint Croix in the US Virgin Islands. Its something I had dreamed of doing when I was newly out of the hospital following my coma, but thought I might not actually accomplish.
I got engaged and sold my house in Vancouver, Washington. My fiance is English, living in Edinburgh, Scotland and we were really excited to spend a few months with him there, before returning to the States to apply for immigration to the UK.
Unfortunately, things (as per usual in my life) didn't exactly go as planned.
To say that our Summer 2014 road trip was a disaster, doesn't begin to cover it. I was so excited to finally have gotten out from under my house (which sold quickly but at a pretty low price.) I planned to drive cross country from the PNW to Virginia where my kids' grandfather was going to store some of our possessions. (Everything I owned at that point was reduced to the dimensions of a 12'x9' U-Haul trailer.) I wasn't sure how the move to Scotland would pan out, so this was a way to store our things without storage fees and then we'd have our belongings shipped to us in Scotland when we were ready.
Best laid plans:
The kids and I made it to Eastern Oregon before the problems started. As I was driving up the big pass into the Blue Mountains, on particularly steep hill, my Durango started to overheat. It was dark and my phone had no cell service. Of course. I made it to a turn out where a barrel of rainwater was sitting at the side of the road. (Clearly, I wasn't the first person to overheat on this hill.) In fact, there was a semi truck already there, the drivers sitting around while cooling off its engine. I gathered up my courage (being a single woman, in the dark with no communication is a little nerve wracking - especially when alone with my kids.) I went up to the drivers and they were really kind. They helped me with getting water into the engine of my truck and coached me on how to drive up these passes in a way that would reduce the likelihood of overheating again. I made it to LaGrande, Oregon and stopped for the night.
In the morning, we started up the hill out of LaGrande and almost immediately, the truck started to overheat again. So, we turned around and made it back to a hotel and called AAA. They referred us to a repair shop where it took five days to get the parts and the work done. FINALLY - we were on our way again. Or so we thought.
We traveled for several hours until we came up the hill into Evanston, Wyoming, without incident. We stayed the night and got back on the road first thing in the morning. But the Durango's radiator problems were not resolved and while driving through the heat of the summer in Wyoming, it began to overheat again. Several stops and refills with water later, we'd only gotten as far as Rawlings when it became clear, I wasn't getting any further down the road.
Wyoming is on my shit list. Not only did it kill my truck's engine, but they have proprietary phone systems that don't share networks with anyone who doesn't have the right carrier. I was still using my Cricket phone which was not on the friendly list, so I had no phone and no internet and no way of contacting AAA or anyone to help. We were well and truly stuck on the side of the road in BFE.
After some time, an RV with a horse trailer stopped just ahead of us (to wait for the rest of the people in their caravan.) I jumped on the chance and prayed for kind people. The folks in the RV took pity on us and took us as far as Laramie where I planned to rent a car or truck (or U-Haul truck... anything) but it happened to be the Cheyenne Frontier Days and literally every rental car within 100 miles was already rented.
The RV people offered to take us as far as Cheyenne, at which point I hopefully could call someone in Denver to come pick us up. My ex husband lives in Denver, so although its still a trek and I knew he'd be put out, at least we had a safe person somewhat close. However, the phone still couldn't communicate and even when I was able to reach him, my ex didn't comprehend what I was telling him: We'd been dropped off at a hotel in Cheyenne and had no way to get to Denver and the hotel (and every hotel in town) had absolutely no rooms. I was stuck with two kids and three backpacks and a suitcase and no transportation or lodging.
Finally, while sobbing quietly in the lobby, one of the receptionists found the number for a shuttle that (for $100) would take us to the Denver Airport. (Did I mention that my fiance was flying into Denver International Airport that afternoon? No? Well, he was. And his phone had died so he had no way to contact me or find out about my situation until he could find a plug.)
Several hours and many more little micro-obstacles later, we arrived at DIA and reconnected with my fiance. It was a night that felt like nothing would ever go right, but eventually we managed to get a car rented and find one room in all of Denver that was available for the night. Unfortunately, I remembered just enough about Denver to get seriously lost but we finally ended up finding the right place.
The SAGA continued into the following week. I wish now that I'd have just bitten the money and gone for the expensive but simplest option of having my Durango and the trailer towed into Denver. But I didn't want to pay $2/mile for the trailer towing and figured I'd just rent a U-Haul truck and go pick up the trailer later. Except that then there was this horrible storm with flash floods on the road that I needed to take to go back to Rawlings, Wyoming and I abandoned the task in lieu of living through the week.
At one point, I looked at my fiance and said, "What if we just run away?" We discussed the options and decided to fly out to Scotland from Denver - skipping the remainder of the trip. (I made arrangements with friends who were willing to help deal with the truck, trailer and shipping) and bought tickets to Scotland. We had had enough and were ready to move on to the "good" part of the plan.
It was a wonderful couple of days, then. Finishing up details and seeing my ex (he got to spend time with the kids and he and I had a nice chance to reconnect after many years apart.) Happily, we got to the airport and went through all the security, boarded the plane to Glasgow (via Reykjavik.) It felt like we were finally on our way.