Thursday, December 17, 2009

WHAT! a Trip! Part Two - The Drive Home

We flew into Chicago on Wed. night, Dec. 2.  Arrived at our hotel near midnight because our flight went from Salt Lake City to Phoenix and then to Chicago.  Who schedules these strange flight patterns?!  We ended up being delighted because we sat next to Bernadette who works in Phoenix and was flying home to Chicago to see her mother before a vacation in Aruba.  We enjoyed visiting with her and sharing our views on such varied topics as illegal immigrants, civil rights, snowbirds, President Obama and Chicago sights and restaurants.  The time went by so quickly.

We pricelined a lovely hotel in downtown Chicago - Embassy Suites.  It had a sitting room with couch, table, chairs and tv, a little kitchen area and a bedroom with another sink and a second tv.  It made a cozy 'home' for our 3 nights and 2 days in Chicago.

The day after we made our airplane reservations and the day before flying out of SLC, Candleman received a notice for jury duty.  He called from Chicago on Thursday evening and was told by recorded message that he needed to be in court the coming up Monday.  YIKES!  We thought about calling the court but in Utah they are closed on Fridays.  There was nothing to do but to drive from Chicago to Utah in 2 days.  It can be done but we really wanted to go a bit more leisurely.  I was hoping we'd be able to stop in Lincoln for a visit with Les.  Every time I get to Lincoln, which is has only been three times now, I like to drive past our old neighborhood.  I've pointed out the old stomping grounds to Candleman - the flagpole, park, Hawthorne and Millard Lefler schools, Golds Department Store, the favorite swimming pools and our house.  Les and memory lane were not going to fit into our plans this trip.  Can you imagine my sad face?

We woke very early on Saturday morning because we knew it was going to be a long day of driving.  Met the airport shuttle at  7, rented a car at the airport and drove to Galena, Illinois where we were going to pick up Kristi's postal car.  See earlier post for more details.  The drive to Galena was beautiful even though it was and there was no snow.  We both were grateful for the opportunity to drive on the back road and hope we get the chance again.  After making the transaction Candleman got his first experience driving a right sided steering car on the right side of the road.  I was driving the rental car while he followed me to the Dubuque airport.  We were quite apprehensive of driving all the way home in this "weird" car.  I kept thinking how weird it was going to be looking to my right instead of left to see my husband behind the wheel.

Little did we know that the driving situation was going to be no big deal compared to the temperature situation.  Luckily, Saturday the sun was shining and the nationwide cold freeze had not hit yet.  I was aware of an opening on my side of the vehicle that blew cold air right on my shins.  We stopped a bought two lap blankets with pillows to stuff down there.  Things got worse when the sun went down and we didn't have the greenhouse effect in our favor.  We discovered the heater didn't work very well.  With the temp and fan turned all the way up and the setting on heater, we were able to get something close to warm blowing out of the windshield vents.  If we tried any other setting we got blasted with cold air on our bodies.

I wanted to stop real bad but Candleman thought we should push on until we couldn't stand it any more.  Thankfully, he didn't have a hole on his side, but it was still very chilly.  Finally, we stopped for the night in North Platte.  I couldn't believe we had made it so far on the same day we had to deal with renting a car, buying a car and trying to find the rental car place in Dubuque.

I'm so glad Candleman pushed us on because Sunday was overcast and cold.  Luckily, the record snowfalls didn't start up until Monday.  We saw the sun for a few minutes just before sunset somewhere north of Baggs, WY.  We relished those minutes!  Another stop for a sleeping bag and some of those chemical hand warmers helped.  Candleman put a hand warmer in each wool sock he bought and then slipped them over the pair I was wearing.   I wondered what people thought as they saw us bundled in our coats with earmuffs and gloves inside our car.  At one point we passed a bald man without a coat driving on the freeway and comment on how warm he looked.

It was quite an experience, but not horrible.  We contemplated what the pioneers had to go through without freeways, sleeping bags, hand warmers, and no hope of finding a warm restaurant in the next city.  We were in an enclosed vehicle traveling 70 mph on paved, split roads and our winter experience would only last 2 days not months.  I can't even imagine what hardships they had to face.  How did they do it?

Kristi is not going to use the car until after the Christmas postal pounding so she has time to get the heater fixed.  After that, I think she'll really like her car.  It drove well and the seats were very comfortable.

All in all, we are thankful for the experiences we had in that short 5 days.  I was thrilled that Candleman was there by my side to enjoy it all.


Kate Weber said...

I'm so glad you guys made it home safely. I was worried about storms and driving on the wrong side of the road. Sounds like chaos.

I'm also very glad that you guys didn't get hypothermia on the way.

Love you!

Utah Mom said...

I heard about your freezing trip from my parents. Brrr. I'm glad you made it home with all your fingers and toes still intact.