Calamity moving from Houston, Texas to A small Wyoming town--in January!
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I remember when we relocated to Wyoming. We packed our belongings and prepared for the long drive from Houston, Texas. The travel experience itself demands a story of its own; however, I will focus on arriving at our new home.
We reached Wyoming on a cold, January afternoon, after days of traveling over mountainous snow lined roads. We stayed at a motel whilst we searched for a more appropriate residence. While there, we unhitched our Suburban from the U-Haul, and took it out for a drive. We wanted to get acquainted with our new hometown. Unfortunately, the weather change from a Houston winter to a Wyoming one is vast. The change placed a terrible shock on the vehicle's constitution. The poor struggling engine just died in the middle of an Evanston street. We needed to have it towed back to the motel until we could get it fixed. Our U-Haul was henceforth dubbed the family car--Ka-ching!
Subsequently, our condo was ready for our residency. We spent the day unloading the truck and filling up the condo. At the end of a tiring moving day, the children and I stayed indoors, unpacking, while my husband went back to the motel. He vowed to drag the Suburban up-hill, on snow slick roads, to our garage. He packed a strong rope in the truck, because the hitch part of the U-Haul had already been returned to the leasing company, when we renewed the rental agreement for the truck.
He left the house at five–thirty that afternoon, telling me he would be back in an hour. As the hour neared its end, I placed some nice thick steaks under the broiler so he would have a substantial meal after his long day of moving.
Seven o'clock, eight o'clock, then nine, soon passed, while I waited and worried. I fed the children earlier and sent them off to bed. At ten o'clock; there was no sign of my missing husband, the U-Haul or the former family vehicle.
I leaned against the sofa, facing out the window of my high elevation condo; looking at the town lights below. I feared something bad happened to him. I went to the kitchen, found the box I was searching for, and unpacked its contents. Inside was the item I needed, so I could get myself prepared for the worst news. Yes, it was a bottle of good old Smirnoff Vodka. I poured myself a small four or five ounce portion, sat there, and sipped away.
Within minutes, my thoughts ran wildly ahead to tomorrow’s news. There were pictures of a cliff, skid marks, and some chilled to the bones, news reporter, showing viewers the edge of the cliff. The reporter would continue on with a slightly excited, yet compassionate voice, recounting the horrible event that took the life of a beloved husband and father of four children.
“Yes, that’s right, John, the U-Haul evidently skidded off the road and over the cliff, with the family Suburban tethered behind it. We were unable to get a comment from the grieving widow. However, neighbors, who have known the family for several hours, have reported hearing muffled cries from the other side of the thin-walled condo unit. I have one neighbor here now, John, and she will comment on the tragedy.”
“Now, you are Anna, the neighbor to the left of the family’s unit, are you not?”
“Yes, Michelle, I am. May I just say, ‘Hi mom, I love you!’ Well, anyway, I heard my neighbor crying late last night. I noticed the flashing lights reflecting from the street, so I ran to the window and saw the police car. I knew it meant something awful happened. I looked out towards the town, and noticed all the fire truck lights below. It wasn’t difficult to deduce that some vehicle fell off the cliff.”
“I know, it is so tragic. What kind of mother is your neighbor?”
“Well, Michelle, I have only known of her since yesterday. However, I believe she is a wonderful mother, lovely neighbor, and generally good person.”
“Thank you, Anna, for putting a compassionate and human face to this story.”
“This is Michelle B. Gauhn, reporting live from Mount Gusher; back to you, John.”
As that awful image passed through my mind, I pondered being a young widow with four children. That sad image disappeared after another long sip from the vodka glass. Suddenly, I turned cold, and angry.
How dare he move me to this godforsaken place in the middle of nowhere. I am stranded, and I have no family anywhere near this part of the country. The bastard left me here to die! If he weren’t already lying there broken, in a pile of rubble, I’d kill him myself!
Then, I poured myself another small, six to eight-ounce shot of vodka, and continued staring out the window. It was midnight and there was no sign of life on the roads below.
Finally, as I was about to pour another drink to salute the years we had spent together, and apologize for yelling selective obscenities at him, while watching the darkened streets below, I notice the flashing of police car lights, followed by several sets of headlights, with a fire engine trailing behind with its flashing lights all headed up the mountain road.
I knew that it had everything to do with my husband. I felt a sigh of relief knowing that one set of lights belonged to that U-Haul. Thus, I concluded that although he has caused some stir in the town resulting in this parade at one o'clock in the morning, my husband was nevertheless alive and well.
When the entourage approached my door, I ran downstairs to greet the lot of them. Of course by then, I had a little bit too much spirit to actually be running and coherent all at the same time. Nevertheless, I managed to run to the arms of the do it yourselfer, and squeeze the stuffing out of him. I also met the local constable, the fire chief, and the cook's brother, who accompanied the cook from the motel.
After many laughs about the situation, the story unfolded. The cook was all too willing to help my husband tie the rope around the U-Haul truck and the Suburban and lead the way with his flashing lights. (After all, we were his best, if not only customers, while we stayed at the motel.) Subsequently, they reached an area downtown which had one of the few stoplights that led to a steep hill. The pilot vehicle made it up the hill, but the U-Haul strained itself mercilessly, trying to climb with no momentum, because it stopped at the red light. Halfway up the hill, the rope broke, leaving the Suburban to slide back down.
Thankfully, after two or three tries of this, a police officer showed up to see if he could help. The cook called in his brother to bring a stronger cable. They attempted the climb again, and failed. Thereafter, the officer called in the fire chief for advice--and a stronger cable.
The failed procedures were as followed: first, there was the tying, and then the pulling, followed by the breaking, falling back and re-grouping. The men figured out that no matter how hard they tried repeating this exercise, it just wasn't going to work.
Finally, the policeman had a brilliant idea. The group should take the longer, albeit less steep route. It had a gradual rise on a looping road, but it would eventually get them to their destination. This made the ride that would have been ten minutes by direct route, turn into an hour of slow, careful movements, along the slick roads in the Wyoming hills.
So that, my friends, was my first welcome wagon committee at my new residence in the Mountain Time zone. Don't make me have to tell you about being locked out of the house one day later.
Well, okay, maybe I can tell you a little bit. While my husband over-slept, in a coma-like state, due to the strenuous moving exercise of the previous night, I heard the garbage truck coming. I needed to get that garbage can to the curb or wait a week for the next trash collection. We had an abundance of trash from unpacking that had to go, thus, I threw on my robe and slippers and headed outside to drag that bin to the curb before the truck got to my end of the street. Yes, I made it in time. I smiled and headed back to my unit to prepare breakfast.
My face dropped as I turned the doorknob...LOCKED! It’s January, there’s snow outside, it’s cold--very cold; and I am wearing a bathrobe and slippers. I just leaned on the doorbell--ding-dong, ding-dong--no response.
Can you picture it?