Monday, April 27, 2009

Climbing Every Mountain - Fording Every Stream - Following Rainbows toward my Dream

I had the opportunity to drive Emily across the country to Idaho so she would have a car while beginning her college experience. I dreaded the thought of driving that far (again), but looked forward to spending some quality time with her. And we had quite an adventure. We were supposed to leave on Thurs (April 16 - Emily's 18th birthday), but then I got the idea we could leave on Weds afternoon right when I got out of school and at least make it to St. Louis. So that's what we did. We had a good drive on Weds afternoon and made good time all the way to St. Louis and even drove on about an hour or so to Columbia, MO. We stayed at a dumpy Motel 6 but it was cheap and we weren't there long so it was okay. Since we were relatively 'fresh' and since I had a gray stripe down the middle of my head, I made use of the hotel's bathroom to color my hair. The plan was to get up early on Thurs and drive to at least Evanston, WY and if we felt like it-- push on another hour to Ogden and spend the night there. Laura and Josh were leaving Salt Lake on Friday morning (heading back to Rexburg where they hope to be in permanent residence), so if we made it to Ogden we could just wait for them in our hotel room and then follow them to Rexburg.

So we got up early on Thurs and drove and drove and drove and were doing really well until we got to Cheyenne, WY and then it started snowing. It was big huge wet flakes and they weren't really sticking to the road but they got clogged on the windshield wipers so they didn't work right and I couldn't see (besides the fact that the clouds were down really low like fog and trucks were going extremely slow so I had to watch real close to be sure nothing was in the road in front of me). We drove on like that until Laramie and finally the snow was collecting on the road in a kind of dirty slush. It was still wet but there was enough of it to be slick. Then we went over a mountain and saw that on the other side of the interstate hundreds of cars were trapped trying to go up the mountain we'd just come down. Two trucks were stuck at the top and couldn't go on. Visibility was terrible and even though it was only 5:00 in the evening and we had planned to drive for HOURS still, I was afraid to go any further for fear we'd get stranded on the road. So I got off the interstate and we checked into another dumpy Motel 6 - this time in Laramie. And then we got snowed in. There was at least 8 inches of snow on the car the next morning. On the weather they said some areas got 4 FEET.

Of course I didn't have any real shoes with me - since I'm from Alabama and down here April means SPRING - so I went outside with towels tied around my feet covered with Walmart sacks. Emily and I each had half of the pizza box from our dinner on Thurs night and scraped the car while standing in snow up to our knees. A plow came through and got the roads pretty much clear so we went and checked out the road conditions while filling up with gas. The roads weren't great - lots of the brown slush, but they were passable. So we went back to the motel and were packing up to go when it occurred to me that I'd better make sure the interstate was open. It wasn't. We were stuck there. We sat around all morning miserable and not knowing when we were going to get out (they said on TV that it might be Sunday).

It kept getting clearer - no sun but brighter - and the little bit of snow still on the car melted and we got hopeful. We could stay in our room until 12:00 and then we were going to have to pay for another night. So at 11:30 I called the Laramie police and asked if they knew when the interstate was opening. They said not at all that day. So I paid for another night at the dumpy Motel 6. At about 2:45 Emily checked the Wyoming Road Department Website and it said I-80 was open. We immediately threw our stuff in the car and checked out. They wouldn't give me even a partial refund but said if I-80 wasn't really open we could come back. We got up on the interstate and the lights were still flashing saying it was closed but a few other cars were on it so we went. And we made it all the way to Pocatello before we got too tired. We drove in to Rexburg on Saturday morning (instead of Friday like we'd planned). We were NOT traveling with Laura and Josh and Harrison (they went on without us on Friday) and we were afraid that all the BYU-I offices would be closed. But that was not the case. We were able to do everything on Saturday that we would have been able to on Friday except get Emily a bank account - which she handled on her own after I left (at 3:30 am on Monday - that's when I left - not when she got her bank account!!!)

Anyway, I'm sure you're wondering how the Mountain Climbing title figures in to the is post...

While Emily and I were driving we listened to the Sound of Music soundtrack about a hundred times and the song Climb Every Mountain became particularly meaningful to me. I've always liked it - but while driving across the country (in adverse conditions) and with a son in Ethiopia (Heaven help me) and a daughter about to get married (that Heaven help me thing) and 4 little grandchildren (so far) who have to grow up in this evil world and two more sons at home to raise - it's easy to get overwhelmed and tempting to say 'it's too much - I can't do it'. But the words of that song - talking about how in order to reach your dream you have to give all you have - all the love you've got - for your whole life - rang true to me. I started out my married life nearly 30 years ago with a dream to have a large family and to raise them to be productive, happy, tax-paying, God-fearing people. I was blessed with 8 beautiful children and if I acheive my greatest dream - I will spend eternity with them and my husband. Many times during this life process I've reached roadblocks or deadends or snowstorms which have required an adjustment in course. But to quote Maria from the movie, When God closes a door, He opens a window. So when the path was blocked, I've had to climb what seemed like mountains and ford hypothetical streams and follow figurative rainbows - working toward that goal of eternal togetherness. It's been a lot of hard work and I know I have more work ahead of me. As the song says if I want to reach my dream I'll have to work 'every day of my life for as long as I live'.

So now when I get discouraged or overwhelmed or just tired I hum a few bars of that song and press forward. Maybe something good did come of all that driving in the snow...


Jennie said...

Betsy, if you only knew. Rich was stuck in that storm too not far from where you were! Since I've had that same experience on that stretch of road, you have my sympathy. I'm glad you got through and back home safe.

Jessica said...

Well Law..

I knew y'all had a hard time but I didn't know you had to get out there with Wal-mart bags on your feet. I saw Emily's attire and knew y'all weren't informed of the chances for snow. It's torture, I told her she'd hate it.

Glad to hear you had insight along the way about Climbing mountains.
The Sound of Music is an Inspiring movie!

carly said...

Betsy, I'm not sure if you remember me but I'm your uncle Ray's granddaughter (Jeff Walton's daughter) Carly. I just googled your website to see if you had a new book coming out and your blog came up in the search hits. I just wanted to tell you that I love your books. I've read every one and think they're fabulous! I'm actually about to make a cross country drive myself. (I'm currently living in DC going to law school at George Washington and am headed back to Utah for the summer). Sounds like you had quite the adventure on I-80...maybe I'll have to steer clear of Wyoming on my way home! It's just been way too long since the whole family has gotten together. Hope you're well,

Carly Walton

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Betsy, I feel your pain! Traveling that stretch is no fun!

The song that's always given me strength from TSOM is "I Have Confidence." Such a great movie.

Julie said...

Oh, Bets! I almost cried when I read the part about WalMart sacks on your feet!

Shelley said...

Your excursion and the accompanying soundtrack to the "Sound of Music" reminds me of many a trip with my late Mother. She knew all the words and would sing so beautifully!

Our missionary, Thomas, sent us an interesting little tie in to your comments that proves God does have a sense of humor.

Thomas used the same line about 'where God closes a door he opens a window' but added this piece of fluff to it -
Sometimes God opens a cat flap... No matter how hard the task or how challenging the journey, there is always a way He provides to get through it, even when we don't see how we could possibly fit through the opening.

Sandi and Curtis said...

We remember trips to Utah through closed I-15 sections in the middle of winter! Memories! Glad you were all safe. By the way...can't wait for your next book! Maybe this experience will find a place in a book?

Kim Sandling said...

Thank you for posting that! That really made me think about my attitude towards life and lifted my day! You are the best!

Chris and Katie said...

Oh goodness - the joy and pain of driving in Wyoming! My family lived in CO for a long time and my grandparent were in UT. My Grandpa was very ill as he was dying from cancer. We went over the I-80 coarse between the two places as often as we could. We did many trips in the snow and have been stuck in Laramie, Rock Springs, and Cheyenne when roads have been closed. Only one of those times could we even find a vacant room in even the lousiest of hotels . The other times we just hunkered down in the car with the blankies we learned to carry with us or sleeping in a booth of the truck stop restaurant.

When we got stuck the first time we all felt agitation and frustration in large amount. After that though, we realized how wonderfully amusing a memory it had become and each subsequent chance to spend a fridged night, stuck at a Wyoming road block, was seen as a new bonding moment and funny story to tell the next generations! I appreciated your hopeful thoughts about those generations in spite of the road blocks (or mountains) they will be faced with. Thank you. And thank you for providing good media for me to offer my family in a time when it is something that can be SO hard to come by!