Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Day Two makes us yearn for Arkansas

Saturday was supposed to be easy. 950 miles from Fort Worth, TX to Tucson, AZ. Considering we had driven 1400 miles the day before, it seemed like nothing. But we didn’t anticipate the weather we would have to battle before the day was over.

We drove the first 100 miles at a decent speed, when things started getting bad. While 18 wheelers and large SUVs were still able to handle the roads, the Little Civic that Could had to slow to about 30 MPH to avoid slipping all over the road. After a half hour or so, things worsened and we thought it may not be safe to drive. But in Texas, there is a whole lot of NOTHING. You can drive for 100 miles until you hit the next town. We pulled off the road to assess the situation, into an abandoned church parking lot. There were no cars, buildings, or people for miles in any direction. As the ice continued to fall, I anticipated our impending death. After a week of discussing possible disaster scenarios with friends, I couldn’t quite believe it would end this way. I was born in Texas, and had now come full circle and would die here in Texas.

We couldn’t be sure when or if the weather would improve. Midland, the next closest city, was 100 miles away. Team Nic usually eats 100 miles for breakfast, but at 15 MPH, it seems daunting even to us. The fear was elevated as we passed accident after accident. We passed not one, not two, but eight 18-wheeler trucks that had slid off the road and overturned. As we chugged along at a snail’s pace, the stress was palpable.

The original plan to drive 900 miles to Tucson was out of reach now. Perhaps we could make it 600 miles to El Paso. At one point, we weren’t sure we’d make it 300 miles to Midland. But we pushed onward. In Texas, there is a bridge or overpass every 1000 feet or so. Bridges freeze first. Like her owner, the Civic thrives in warm weather. She does not like snow. We had to slow to almost a complete stop to make it over these bridges without slipping.

But then, we were handed a miracle. The weather improved. The roads got better, and eventually we could drive at highway speeds again. At this point, El Paso was in reach!! The speed limit was 80 MPH! Deep into western Texas, something amazing happened. On the horizon, over the mountains, the clouds parted and we saw the first glint of sun since we left Maryland. It was like a religious experience. We had done it! Not only were we going to live, but we were going to make it after all! Forget El Paso…..we vowed to make it to Tucson, even if it took all night.

New Mexico came and went. And after one of the longest days of our lives, we were finally rewarded for our perseverance. We arrived safely in Tucson around midnight, Mountain Time. Arizona has never tasted so sweet.

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