…LONG, icy, slightly scary, and very sleep deprived. However, it is also full of lots of laughter, beautiful scenery, welcome climate changes, and lots of yummy “Welcome Home!” southern meals.
I picked Charlie up from his last shift at the Wyoming hospital at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 24, and we hit the road for Florida. Even though it would mean a late night, we wanted to at least drive the four hours to Cheyenne in order to help us get to his parents’ house in Alabama by a reasonable time on Friday.
I had all of our directions for each day printed, hotel reservations made, and we felt great about our 2,600 mile, four-day trip across the U.S.
Except, it started snowing the day before we left and didn’t stop.
We were wondering if we’d see a Wyoming snow, and at first we laughed that it came just in time to wish us off. We enjoyed getting out in it during our last few days and seeing how beautiful it looked against the mountain sky. Then, we almost cried as we got on the interstate Wednesday night and realized it was iced over for most of the way to Cheyenne.
There’s nothing on I-80 between Rock Springs and Cheyenne, not even street lights. So we suddenly found ourselves driving 30 mph on solid ice in the pitch black late at night. At one point, we got caught in a group of truckers who had all stopped to put chains on their tires because they couldn’t get any traction. I saw a pick-up truck slip and slide across the road in our rearview mirror before he regained control. It took us five hours to make the usual three hour trip to Laramie (45 minutes from our hotel for the night) only to find that I-80 was closed.
As in, it’s now 12:30 a.m., snowing, we’d been up for 20 hours, and now we had nowhere to go.
Since we had to leave the hotel at 5:45 a.m. anyway, it didn’t make sense to stay in Laramie without knowing if they’d clear the interstate in the next five hours. And the snow was just going to keep coming down, so we’d probably wake up to worse conditions anyway.
Somehow we made the decision to just keep driving and go south to Fort Collins. It would get us out of the worst of the snow and keep us on track to make it to an appointment Charlie had in Nebraska the next day to get his fingerprints made. It was still pretty slow-going, but we finally made it another four hours to just past Fort Collins and checked into a Super 8 Motel at 4:30 a.m.
We then checked out at 6:00 a.m.
If that’s not a “Wow, I’m glad we’re going to Florida!” story, I don’t know what is! Our car had been through hell, our bikes had been through worse, and we were pretty exhausted, but it was certainly an adventure. The Lord definitely took care of us the whole way, even keeping our spirits up as tired as we were! Plus, since we left before dawn, we were treated to a beautifully snowy sunrise as we made our way to Nebraska.
The next day was a gorgeous drive to Missouri, and on Friday we hit the road for Alabama and enjoyed the highways through the coppery-colored Ozarks.
We stopped at a little cafe on a small highway in Arkansas for a delicious lunch of fried catfish, okra, hushpuppies, sweet tea, pecan pie and lemon icebox pie. We were officially in our homeland!
It felt great to drive into Alabama, be called “Sugar” by the gas station attendants, watch Charlie drink a Diet Grapico and see the sun go down through the pine trees. Pulling into Charlie’s parents’ house at the lake felt even better. It was a little more than a year ago that we pulled out of that same driveway headed for Connecticut, not knowing what crazy adventures awaited.
We enjoyed a full day with his family, catching up and laughing while keeping an eye on all the football scores. Charlie ate his weight in his mom’s breakfast casserole, I overdosed on cheese grits and we all enjoyed a gorgeous fall afternoon family walk. Being with family again was definitely a blessing! We even got a double-dose as we headed to Florida the next day to stay with my brother and sister-in-law who happened to be spending the week in Sanibel. Since they live in Costa Rica and won’t be home this year for Christmas, we weren’t sure when we’d see them next. We were thrilled when we realized we’d all be in Florida at the same time. They rolled out the coastal welcome mat and we had a great seafood dinner on the island and stayed up late catching up.
On Monday, we finally headed across the state to our new home in Port St. Lucie. In the last week, we’ve been enjoying seafood on the water, fresh farmers’ markets, morning walks alongside the egrets and blue herons in our beautiful neighborhood, looking for shells on the Atlantic beaches and wearing short sleeves again. I keep thinking we’re on vacation, but we really live here!
Charlie spent last week in orientation and officially started on his new floor today. I’ll update more on his new job, where I’m volunteering and our upcoming trip home soon. But for now, all we can say is: What a marvelous adventure!
See more pictures from our cross-country adventure here.