Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Summit

I'm not sure I am ready to write this story- do I want the world to know... I somehow feel responsible and ashamed- although it wasn't my fault. I need a shrink to help me figure that one out. And- truly- it wasn't THAT bad. I do admit I'll be happy when the flash backs in my mind go away and leave me in peace. But, I'm going to push through and write it so I can leave it behind me. They say writing is therapeutic, right?

Tim- my brother- stated he was going home for my dad's 60th birthday and invited me to come. Drive out Friday when I got home from work and surpise him Saturday morning. I had no plans I couldn't rearrange and no reason not to-- and despite warning him about the weather- he was bound and determined to go. The crazy thing is- despite praying about it- it didn't feel like a bad idea. Not sure all the why's behind that response- but I may have an hypothesis or two formulating.

I was talking on the phone with my dad while we are driving- he having no idea we were in Nevada trying to surprise him- when we reach the summit between Wendover and Wells; Tim was driving at the time. There was some snow but nothing to cause alarm when... The nemesis of ice struck and we began sliding out of control. I quickly told my dad I had to go and hung up right before we struck the median for the first time. The median pinged us to the barrier, which ponged us back to the median, which again pinged us to a stop sideways in the middle of the freeway across 2 lanes. Fortunately we both stayed calm- Tim said that during the incident after an initial "oh, no- don't do that..." I just said as we were hitting repeatedly- "it's okay, we're fine, it's alright" and that helped him keep a clear head. Because the truth is- we were fine. Miracles abounded and it was all fairly smooth. We didn't roll, hit someone else, get hit by others while we started the car the car to get out of the middle of the road, and there were no real injuries. Somehow the car started for us and we were able to drive down the summit to the plains- it smelled horrible, sounded horrible, and temperature gage was racing to the H. But we were able to pull off in an area of cell phone reception and let the car cool. Unfortunately, we had no idea where we were to give specifics and the car wasn't starting- oh, and it was snowing... ( And that was the rudest USAA representative I have ever talked to. Usually they are really nice. ) By the grace of God- literally- the car started and we were able to get far enough to A) see a mile marker to tell where we were, B) have a no service exit we could pull off on so we would not be on the freeway and C) maintain cell phone reception. Considering we were in the middle of Nevada- cell phone service was a miracle. And the smoke/steam coming out of the car at that point was impressive.
Now came the waiting game. Tim was still determined to get home- trying to find a car rental we could get to and continue onward... With all lovingness- Crazy man! His car is totalled, we are stuck in the middle of no where and he just laughs and looks to see how to plough ahead. I am sure it would do me some good to be more like my brother. But in so many ways we are polar opposites. Once we came to a safe place to land I was in a bit of shock- nothing dramatic - but upset. Tim laughed a bit when he saw I was crying- in my defense - they were small quiet tears. And the thing I was the most upset about- and still am- was Tim losing his truck. Yes I grieved over a truck. No doubt about it being totalled. The truck has been in the family for 15 years, I drove it as a sophomore in college, and it was just what he needed- and it was finished. What can I say- I'm sentimental. No way to replace it and the thought of the extra burden on his family still stings. Jacob really was going to be sad. And well- we just ping ponged across the freeway barely making it somewhere safe and were stuck on a cold snowing night waiting for a tow truck with no heat. I think I handled it fairly well, thank you very much...
I never got really cold- chilled yes, cold no. I had a blanket, coats, sweaters and my smart wool thin ski socks on- those socks were the best decision I made that day. I didn't even have all the possible layers on I had with me. And standing on a mountain in below 0 temperatures with the ski teams has toughened me up a bit. The funny part is that Tim didn't even have his coat zipped up. The cab of the truck is so small our body heat was maintained- and Tim has body heat. If I was to be stuck in the snow with anyone- it would be him! The picture below demonstrates the difference in us. Look at the windshield and you will see where he was sitting and where I was sitting.

His side of the windshield is dry and clear. My side... snow and ice! I've written before that we balance the universe between hot and cold- I finally have proof!!!

After an hour of waiting- the tow truck arrived and carried us off to Wells Nevada- only 10 miles away, and dropped us off at a hotel.

I was barely able to open my door far enough to get out.

Tim had the most impressive injury with a seat belt rash. And he hit his knee. My shin was throbbing a bit and I have a nice little bruise to prove it. Besides a little stiffness- that was about it.

Wells- it isn't what I would say as on the up and up. Tim had to give up the dream of making it to California. No rental cars. I was surprised when we found a grocery store. The 4- way Cafe at the Casino served an eatible dinner- more or less. And we attempted to sleep hoping the storm would clear enough someone could come and rescue us. I must say, that was a long night. I haven't laid that wide awake for a long time.
Here is the story line I haven't followed yet. While Tim is calling Andrea to find out what our rental car options were... I was calling Sterling. I am so grateful to have a friend I can call at anytime about anything. He didn't answer so I left a text- stranded in Nevada... can't remember what all I wrote. I felt terrible when I found out he got the text in the middle of a date- but fortunately Quinn is a friend and was okay with the distraction. He was willing to leave right then and there to come and get us. That is a good friend. In fact, I think that is the very definition of a true friend. After some push back from my brother, who was not ready to give up the fight- once Tim finally conceded to our true fate- we made plans for Sterling to leave in the morning after the storm passed to rescue us from the ghost town of Wells. Honestly I will never be able thank him enough.
Sterling had to wait for the storm to lighten up in Salt Lake before he left so we had some time on our hands to kill while we waited. We were booted out of our hotel at 11am. So we took to the streets of Wells to do what the billboard suggested- Discover Wells!

There she is-- The thriving Metropolis of Wells!! It is lined with motels and car shops- and that is about it. Except...

The Gentelman's Club Bellas. This hat was in a cafe gift shop. Not quite my style- but we were discovering Wells- and this was the "tourist trap" of the town. It "needed" to be documented.

I could hardly believe it when we saw these signs! A block historical walking tour! I wished Emily was there.

Most of Wells was lost in last year's Earthquake. The few buildings in town were mostly closed as a result.

But never fear! The Lone Wolf Gun shop was going strong. It was soooo cold with the wind chill that even Tim's face and ears were bright red and stinging. So we opted to go inside to get warm. And I do have the "nickname" of being a wolf. It was perfect.

We met the gunsmith who is in the picture if you look close enough. He was so happy and nice and out of place. He has lived all over the US including Nashville playing music for 20 years. I had to ask how he ended up in Wells. He loves guns and wanted to work in a place with little competition. He is happy as can be in the middle of nowhere helping people with their guns from 100 miles around. That is a man who wasn't afraid to live his dream as unconventional and crazy as it may seem. I respect and honor that.

The final leg of our walk through town we found the Ranger station. I don't know if you know I-80 very well but it isn't known for its trees. Not quite sure what National Forest it was protecting...
Finally my knight in Sterling Armor arrived. He drove 2 1/2 hours each way- giving up his entire Saturday. It was a beautiful drive back to Salt Lake.
In the end- there is a hero, 2 saved persons, and a lot of gratitude. (Gratitude that only increased realizing I don't live in Wells and that is a really great thing.)
I thank God for his many miracles.
AND... Happy Birthday Dad!


qb said...

Thank you for the full story. (Althought I'm sure there's even more you could tell.) I'm glad you both came out ok and that you maintained your sense of humor. And... go Wells!

Nasher said...

Wow. I understand why you had a hard time trying to categorize the type of story for me. I think the best I could come up with would be: intense. Glad that you came out unscathed though. I don't have a cell you can text, but feel free to call me as a backup in case Sterling is unavailable.

Dad said...

So I did hear "no-- OH NO, STOP, oooh no, -click"

I am so grateful you and Tim are OK - I was so happy and mad at you at the same time - So pleased you (both would be willing to risk the passes (Reno was metered so that it took > 4 hr to go a normal 20 min distance. and (Sunday nite) It is still raining with no let up). As I said I am so happy you are back home -safe, and so mad the truck - did you see the custom wheels? -- bit the dust it had another 200K miles in it. Sigh.
Thank you for the sacrifice!!