Originally, Scott and I were planning on driving to Idaho with Jenna and her roommate Ariel in our little Hyundai (whose name is Bond). But on Saturday, my dad called and told me that he had been reassigned to Salt Lake and he would be in the area both on Tuesday and on Sunday, and could therefore drive us with his truck. We of course appreciated this - not only did it provide a safer way to travel but free gas (shameless mooching).
Then on Monday, my dad kept calling me throughout the day to give me updates on the weather. We kept hearing worse and worse. We had been planning on leaving at 3, after Scott finished teaching Italian, but Scott decided to cancel it so we could just go to our morning classes. My dad called at about 10:30 that night and I could tell he was really concerned. He wasn't going to ask Scott to miss his classes but he was pretty worried. After consulting for a few minutes, Scott and I decided to miss all our classes the next day and leave first thing in the morning.
The first two hours of the drive were uneventful. However, shortly after we got to Idaho, my dad pointed out a white wall moving toward us. It literally came up from the road. He said, "Ok guys, we are about to enter the mouth of the beast." (My dad can be dramatic. And my mom. That's where I get it. But this really was dramatic.)
At first, it was ok. Wind blowing, for sure, lots of snow, very slow travel, but we could see where we were going. Then, everything went white, except for a few tiny dots of taillights. We kept moving and got through to a clear spot. There was a lot of wind and snow for about 45 minutes, but we thought we were on our way out.
Then we got to what I have affectionately taken to calling the Ninth Circle of Hell (if you are unfamiliar with Dante, it is the deepest part of hell where everything is frozen over and kept cold by the flapping of Satan's black bat wings). We started seeing cars pulled over on the road. We reached an underpass with about four cars taking shelter - and these were mainly SUVs with four wheel drives, take note. They weren't wimpy little cars like Bond (sorry, little Hyundai). As we drove through the underpass, we could look into the windows of the cars pulled over, and they were looking at us like they thought we were crazy and were going to die.
We were following a white van that I'm going to call the brave little minivan because it was pushing through everything. It's taillights were one of the only things we could see and we were going about five miles per hour, so if something bad happened, it probably wouldn't be us (first, at least). As we continued picking our way down the road, we lost all sense of where the road was. We came upon a car in the middle of the road, windows iced over. They thought they were on the side. We edged around them, uncertain of where we were. At first my dad had been feeling the side of the road by the "wake-up bumps" but now the snow was too deep and we couldn't find them. It was spooky. It felt like we were in Day After Tomorrow, I Am Legend, The Road or some similar post-apocalyptic tale. Eventually we came to a point where all the cars were stopped and there wasn't really clear path to get through. Even the brave little minivan stopped, so we, at a loss, did so too.
My dad decided to get out to get out of the car, because one of our ward members was a little ways behind us and he wanted to go talk to her and see what her plan was. He was out for about two minutes and came back dripping. When he opened his door the wind slammed it shut and he had to use all his strength to pry it open. We all sat silently, receiving texts from BYU about how the campus was closing early and there was a severe winter storm so "be prudent in your travels." No kidding?
I was trying to read and ignore the situation while Ariel documented with her Flip, my dad told us stories about people going crazy, leaving their cars and being found naked in the snow (um... yes, comforting) and Scott and Jenna sat quietly, although Jenna was hyperventilating. I could see nothing, but all of the sudden out of the front window I could see a cross. It was one of those highway crosses when people have been killed on the highway, and I have always been a little disturbed when I see them. It's scary to think you are in the same place, doing the same thing as the person when they died. It was the only thing I could see out the window and I couldn't decide if I should feel comforted or completely freaked out. I think I was feeling a little more freaked out at that point.
My dad started to feel impatient. He and Scott got out of the car for about 10 seconds to beat the ice of the windshield, and they were both completely soaked. (And Scott's iPhone is missing so it potentially was blown out of his pocket or out of the car at that time). We saw a semi trudging by and decided that if we stayed there, we would never get out. Scott unrolled the window and kept an eye on the side of the road, revealed to us by the occasional glimpse of a blowing sagebrush. (Yes, it was freaking cold with the window open!) In about fifteen minutes we pulled out and saw the blue sky! We all cheered. A few minutes later we saw the other side of the freeway closed, with cars going on for a mile or two. A few minutes later we heard that they closed the freeway right behind us - we were probably one of the last cars to make it through. We didn't see the brave little minivan, but I think he made it - I hope so, because guided us through the worst of it!
So, this Thanksgiving I am grateful to be alive! And grateful my dad brought the truck to save us.