My adventure was planned to begin on January 11, 2009. I was moving from small town upper Michigan to the big city of Portland, Oregon. Goodbye snow, goodbye icy roads, goodbye chilled to the bone weather and hello new life!
Well, that all sounded good as I packed my car with everything that I hadn’t thrown away or given away, my two cats and more caffeine than any one body should consume in a short time. My first stop would be Minneapolis. As I drove away from my small town, I felt a bit of sadness but mostly excitement. I was prepared with the GPS on my new Blackberry phone which was set for the shortest route between Michigan and Oregon and I was off to meet new friends in Minneapolis that night and then would continue along my journey.
The day was mostly clear as I found my way out of Michigan and over the Wisconsin border. I took a deep breath, this was real. I was leaving my life, my family and everything I knew behind and starting a new life in the Pacific Northwest.
I found myself about two hours away from Minneapolis as dusk fell and along with dusk came snow, not just a little bit of snow but a lot of snow and it kept coming. The friends I was supposed to meet, texted and suggested that I find a hotel to stay for the night. I couldn’t do that, I had planned to make Portland by the 16th and if I deviated from my plan, I would not make it.
I finally arrived in Minneapolis, greeted by a snow storm and a wind chill of -23 degrees. The evening was nice and I enjoyed a last meal of White Castle burgers as I would be leaving my favorite fast food behind as well.
Waking in the morning, I discovered the wind chill temperatures from the night before were pretty close to the actual temperature that morning. I prayed that the cold wouldn’t prevent my 1996 Lumina from starting. Without hesitation my car started as I offered it words of appreciation and love and off we went. Next stop Fargo, ND
Having never used a GPS in the past there were things I didn’t know about them; such as they don’t make concessions for closed freeway ramps. I spent over an hour that morning trying to find a freeway ramp in a place I did not know with a GPS that kept trying to take me back to the closed ramp. Did I mention that I ordered the GPS because I can’t read a map and I couldn’t find way out of a wet paper bag with directions written on the inside?
Finally, I made it the freeway and was on my way again. My GPS was happy, I was happy; this cold weather had to break soon! Arriving in Fargo just after dark, I found my motel and discovered that the weather hadn’t gotten better, it had gotten colder. Record breaking temperatures that day of -40 degrees. I wasn’t having fun!
My trip continued this way as I made my way the next couple of days but Montana became my breaking point. I don’t care which movie stars live there. I spent two days trying to get my GPS to get me off of 40MPH roads, the Lewis and Clark trail in the middle of the night in a snow storm and now place to stop for over 200 miles is not so adventurous and just before I exited Montana, I found myself on an icy curve in the mountains and just as I rounded that curve, I found a truck on its side in my path. I had two choices, hit the truck with a person in it or aim for the side of the mountain. My car slid as I tried to slow the car quickly and my front end hit the mountain hard enough to bring boxes crashing down on me along with a smashed front end of the car that I loved so much. Both cats were howling and my front quarter panel was caved in along with a headlight that was beyond a quick repair. The car was drivable so after everything was taken care of with the police arriving on the scene; I was able to head out again.
I found the first town in Idaho; I could get to and checked into the first motel I could find. Ordered pizza, took a bath and went to sleep.
I arrived in Portland during a Friday night rush hour as the sun was going down. Four lanes of traffic and I needed the left lane exit while I was in the right lane. This was not the welcome I was expecting. I would later learn that when making long trips, one should set their GPS for freeways only. A lesson, I wish I had learned before I reached Montana.
I arrived in one piece, got settled in my new home and was fine but I will never again visit Montana nor make that drive in January again.
August 25, 2010. I moved back home, the big city was too big for a small town mid-west girl. I took a plane and shipped my belongings.