Monday, August 27, 2012

Journey to Virginia

      (First post on my blog!) This is the story of an expected last minute journey from Utah to Virginia for my second year of college at Southern Virginia University. I'm pretty sure I live life about as last minute as anyone could get. . .here's why:

Day 1:

      On Friday, August 17, me and my crazy indecisive brain were stressing. I had most of my things packed for college because I knew that I could be leaving any minute. Around 4 p.m. I started calling my parents back and forth as we tried to decide if I should ride on the truck with dad to Wisconsin (he is a truck driver) or hurry and book a plane ticket. At the last minute, my dad's dispatcher messaged him with a load to Georgia right out of Wisconsin. My dad, being a smart planner man and everything, recognized that the route would take him near Knoxville, Tennessee where my cousin JonAnn lives, so he told me to call her to see if she would be able to take me from Knoxville to Virginia. I quickly gave her a call, and since she was willing and able to drive me to VA, I sent my dad a text message to tell him she could help us out. With those details figured out, my dad gave me one hour to finish last minute packing and meet him at the freeway entrance. I shoved the rest of my unpacked things into suitcases and boxes, loaded up the car, hugged my siblings goodbye, and headed out. (As I was leaving, it started to rain, just as it had the year before. Mom and I joked that every time I leave, St. George cries because it is going to miss me so much. Haha.) All frazzled and rushed, we met my dad at the Toquerville, Utah freeway entrance. I piled my suitcases and boxes into the big eighteen-wheeler and hugged my mommy goodbye for almost five months. I sent text messages to my friends to tell them I had left (they knew it was going to happen sometime soon too - actually I was originally supposed to leave three days earlier - or at least that's what I had told them). Mom and dad talked for a bit, and then dad and I were off, just like that! We traveled about 360 miles to Fruita, Colorado. I was so exhausted that I just poured the water from my water bottle on my toothbrush and leaned out the window of the truck to brush my teeth and then climbed up to the top bunk in the back of the cab and went straight to sleep.

Day 2:
      When I woke up Saturday morning, dad and I went to breakfast at a restaurant that was at the truck stop called Starvin' Arvin's. It was pretty tasty! When we were done, we walked across the street to a dinosaur museum. We were going to go in, but we didn't have enough time before we had to get on the road again. But I did take a picture of this awesome van that was there!
The rest of the trip was pretty exciting. We got to drive right through the Rocky Mountains on I-70 East! My dad was pretty excited about the whole thing, and for good reason! It is quite a breathtaking drive. As we drove up and up the mountains, off to the right was the Colorado River where we saw many groups of people going rafting and tubing, etc. We drove higher and higher, reaching over 11,000 feet in elevation as we drove through the Eisenhower tunnel! We were so high that we were above the tree line that occurs at extreme heights because there isn't enough oxygen that high up for the trees to grow. Dad was very out of breath and scared me by casually explaining how to shift the huge eighteen-wheeler into neutral and put on the breaks in case he passed out. Believe me, I did not think there was anything casual about the situation! After we passed Denver, it got much less exciting. Soon we entered into Nebraska on I-80. Nebraska is...flat. My uncle Brome (my dad's twin [his real name is Garry, not Brome]) happened to be driving the same route as my dad, so they met up on the road and had fun talking back and forth on the CB radio, almost like little boys playing with walkie-talkies. We drove either right behind Brome or right in front of him (mostly behind) all through Nebraska. Brome came on the CB and asked, "Hey Desi, look to your left. What do you see?" "...corn," I answered. "Now look to your right, what do you see?" "More corn!" I said. Nebraska is basically like a pancake with corn growing out of it. Flat, flat, flat.


Yup, 11,158 feet!


We drove until we arrived at York, Nebraska, putting our miles for just that day at almost 700. I actually got ready for bed this time, finally hitting the sack sometime just after midnight.

Day 3:

      We spent Sunday driving near Brome as well. Traveling East on I-80, we drove the rest of the way through Nebraska and then to Iowa. Iowa is still pretty flat, but at least there were a few little hills...or maybe I should just call them bumps because I don't even know if they count as hills. Plus at least Iowa has some cool windmills to look at!

Welcome to Iowa! Oh, and uh, sorry about the squished bugs on the windshield. . . 

We stopped at a rest area in Iowa where Brome gave us some delicious dinner that his wife, Jackie, made. We also took some pictures:

Twin brothers driving down the road together :)

I couldn't resist adding a picture of Uncle Brome's cute dog, Texie.

Points to Iowa for having a super cool welcome center!

Towards the north eastern boarder of Iowa, there is a really neat city called Dubuque. It is right along the Mississippi River, and it sure does have a lot of pretty lights at night! We crossed the enormous Mississippi River and entered into Wisconsin! We got to Plymouth, WI at about one in the morning, ending the day at about 630 miles. I could hardly believe it when we were driving through the quaint neighborhood of Plymouth and I noticed frost on the blades of grass! We got to the dairy place where my dad was delivering to and I had to put a jacket on. "I can't believe I have to wear a's AUGUST!" I exclaimed to dad. He laughed. Growing up in St. George, Utah, jackets are only a November to February necessity! But anyway, the company was nice enough to let dad get his trailer unloaded that night instead of waiting for his morning appointment. At the end of the day, I sighed and told dad, "I couldn't do this." It's hard work being a truck driver! Plus it's pretty stressful and takes a lot more problem solving than most people realize. After I told him I couldn't do it, he told me about how he had always wanted to do radio, but it didn't make enough money to support a family. "Dreams had to wait," dad told me. He has sacrificed a lot to provide for me and my siblings, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Day 4:

    On Monday morning, I really wasn't sure what to expect. Dad's dispatcher had told him that his load to Georgia was basically impossible for him to make on time and that it would probably be changing...which meant our Wisconsin to Tennessee plan most likely would not work out. Sure enough, when dad checked his messages in the morning, we discovered that he'd gotten a new load. Instead of going to Georgia we had to switch trailers with another driver in Indiana and then take that load to Michigan. Michigan is not quite the same direction as Virginia or Tennessee, so how I was getting to school at this point I had no idea. We met dad's friend Jeff at the Wal-Mart in Plymouth where we cut and ate a cantaloupe and bought sandwiches from Subway. Even though I wasn't sure how (or even if) I was going to be getting to Virginia anytime soon, I felt pretty calm. I had prayed the night before that something would work out so that I could get to Virginia in the most efficient way possible. I have trust in Heavenly Father, and I know that his hand is in all things, especially when we faithfully ask for them. Later that night, as we were heading Southeast to Indiana, I kept having the thought to contact a friend who I worked with at SVU who I knew was from Michigan. I sent her a text and explained my situation, but she was in Utah and was not able to help me directly, although she did help me by suggesting a couple of other people to contact. I contacted those people, the first one couldn't help...neither could the second one, but she suggested a couple more. After about an hour of texting around for help, I got in contact with Lauren Hafen. Lauren and I are good friends and started a debate club at SVU together last spring, so I didn't know why I hadn't thought to text her earlier. She was very generous and was not only willing to give me a ride to SVU, but was also willing to pick me up wherever I needed her to and let me sleep at her house. I immediately knew that Heavenly Father had answered my prayers and that this was all going to work out.
The drive to Indiana wasn't too long, only about 400 miles.(You know you've traveled a lot [maybe too much? Nah :)] when you say "only 400 miles...") It was pretty cool though because we drove right through Chicago, IL and I could see the Great Lakes of Michigan outside the truck window. But sorry, I didn't get any good pictures of that. When we stopped in Indiana, Iron Man was playing at the truck stop so I stayed and watched the whole thing. . .dad was nice enough to wait with me, even though I know he would have probably rather slept :)

Wisconsin - America's Dairyland!

(More Wisconsin)

Hellooooo Chicago!

Day 5:

      Tuesday was pretty relaxing because we only had to drive to another city in Indiana where dad delivered. Because of a wreck on the freeway, traffic was really slow and dad was late to the U.S. Cold where he was delivering. Since we were late, they made us wait a whole six hours before unloading the trailer. During that time, I decided to go for a run! I ran for 45 minutes, probably about 5 or 6 miles. It was much different than what I'm used to because it was so flat! The entire time I did not run up a single hill, bump, or any kind of elevated surface. There was a lot of corn in Indiana as well and I spent most of the run on a gravel road that went past a lot of farms and fields of corn.
      After I finished running and dad's truck finally got unloaded, we headed to Byron Center, Michigan. Dad delivered to a place called Spartan Foods in Byron Center, and the people there were really nice and helpful. It was relieving after a long stressful day with all the problems we were having in Indiana.

Day 6:

      When we woke up Wednesday morning, dad and I had one last breakfast together at a truck stop just down the road from Spartan Foods. Breakfast was delicious and the portions were way too big for my little belly. At about 11 a.m., Lauren called me to tell me her and Colin (Lauren's boyfriend who also goes to SVU) had arrived to pick me up. We loaded my luggage into Colin's brand new car and I gave dad a hug goodbye. I really enjoyed traveling across the country with him, it's always good to spend some quality time, from dad freaking out when he realized I didn't know who Seals & Crofts was to searching for Byron Center on the map. Plus, I just love traveling! I have been to 28 states in one year now!
      Lauren introduced me to her family and later that night I helped make dinner. For dinner we had what the Hafen's call "Asian night." It was really quite tasty! For dessert, we had the yummiest coconut rice with mango! Mmmmm :) When we finished eating, Lauren, Colin, me and Lauren's friend from Michigan went to an awesome museum called "Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum." It was so much fun! I have never seen so much stuff in one building! The walls and ceilings were covered in all kinds of unique items, and there were more arcade games than I was willing to count. Some of the arcade games were modern ones, but others were from as early as 1905! Check out these cool pictures we took at the museum:

We thought this was pretty funny :)

Colin conquering his fear of spiders :)
p.s. the big spider on his hand wasn't there originally - it unexpectedly dropped down from the top

Yeah, some of the old arcade games were a little this mad scientist fortune teller game.

Day 7:

      Thursday was pretty relaxed. I went on a morning run in Lauren's neighborhood and the rest of the day Lauren just packed everything for school and we also played some Mario Kart. That night, Lauren's dad came home and we discovered that he had gone to high school with my dad! It's a small world!

Day 8:

      We were D.C. bound! It wasn't easy to fit two girls 4 month supply of living items in Colin's car...

And the entire trunk was completely full too! Lauren and Colin told me it's I good thing I'm not fat since I had to squeeze in the back with all that luggage!

On the way, we drove through Ohio, right through Amish territory! It's not every day you see signs to watch for a horse and buggy driving down the road! We stopped at a rest area and snapped some more photos:

We made it to Colin's house in the D.C. area around 8:30 p.m. His mom had kindly prepared us a delicious meal of black beans and rice. We ate up, talked for a while, and headed to bed.

Day 8:

      Running in D.C. is a lot of fun. I woke up and went running right outside Colin's house where there was a nice little trail. At some points I was in the middle of a lush forest and completely forgot that I was actually surrounded by a big city until the trail led me out of the trees. I also forgot how humid it is near the East coast. . . it's like breathing in water! Okay, not really, but compared to the dry desert air of Southern Utah that I'm used to, it feels like quite the sweat bath! I was drenched when I got back (sorry, that's probably disgusting and tmi. . .) so I took a shower before eating breakfast. We packed up and left for Virginia just after noon. I was so happy to see the rolling green hills of the Shenandoah Valley in Buena Vista, VA again! I couldn't help but smile when I saw this sign:

It's great to be back :)

Southern Virginia University's Main Hall

      It was so much fun seeing so many people again! I am sharing a room with the fabulous Delaney Gustafson, and it is going to be great! I didn't even finish unpacking everything before I went to dinner at the dining hall. I saw old friends (and practically jumped into their arms!) and met new ones. That night we had a cross country party where we ate scrumptious brownies, played hilarious get-out-of-your-comfort-zone games, and watched the Hunger Games. It was a fun night. I've missed this place :) I could not have gotten here without the help of my dad, Lauren and Colin, Lauren's family, Colin's family, plus many others, and of course my Father in Heaven. I'm so grateful for everyone who helped me on my journey. My heart is full.