Packing up my belongings, not knowing how long I was going to be living in DC, was not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. Flo, my kleptomaniac bureau, revealed that one black shirt I had been looking for since April...and I shoved it in my last packed box before I was ready to head out the door on my new adventure. Now all I need to make this day more exciting are a couple of boys knocking down my door begging me not to go and professing their undying love for me, I thought. Would it have stopped me though? Hmmm....depends on the boy ;)
Regardless, I am hoping to be in this for the long haul. I made the decision to move to DC a long, long time ago, but wasn't able to follow through because of timing. I had great jobs, loved my schooling opportunities, absolutely loved the friendships I have made, enjoyed being so close to my family, and wouldn't take back my time in Utah for anything. But the thought of moving away to seek more job opportunities was always somewhere in the back of my mind. So, one day, I decided that once I graduated with my masters, I would go. How, when and where were not determined until one month ago. Even then, it was talked about, but not planned. I really didn't start thinking about the next step of my life until I got back from San Diego on January 3rd. I had one week to get everything done and prepped for my trek out east.
My friend, Heidi Buchanan heard this crazy plan of mine and volunteered to come with me. I thought she was just saying it to be nice, but the next day she talked to her manager who informed her that the days she requested off were the only days she could have anyway...which indicated to her and to me, that it was a sign. With that sign, we made arrangements, I packed, laughed, cried, danced and anxiously awaited Sunday, January 9th, the day it would all start. And so it has....
Sunday: Went to church one last time, was surprisingly released from my calling (way to stay on top of it Bishopric), had a couple blank stares from people who thought I would a). already be gone, or b.) had no idea I was leaving, held it together saying goodbye to some friends and lost it as my 10 minutes of saying goodbye after sacrament were nearing a close, kissed and cried with my roomie once more, held hands one last time from my pre-moving crush/boyfriend, gave him several kisses in the parking lot and left with Heidi to go to my prepacked car...thank you Terrance. We jumped in and started our infamous drive across country...over the mountains and through the snow. We left at 4:00 p.m. and arrived in Denver at 12:30 a.m. One thing is certain...we do not suggest I-25 in the snow.
Monday-Wednesday: Waking up to a winter wonderland, I was able to hang with Allie (my niece) and my sister Jamie. It was nice to have one last snuggle from Allie before I had to leave. I ended up having to go back into the house because I kept forgetting things, and apparently Allie finally settled down from crying because I left, and didn't want me to go. That is SO sweet. I remember smiling. And so, here are my thoughts during the rest of our winter/snow-covered journey cross country.
- Peoria - has some pretty cool buildings. From the freeway we could see a couple of churches that had the same kind of Gothic style as the churches in Barcelona. I had no idea Peoria was so cool.
- Illinois has some wicked-awesome rest stops that are decked out with playgrounds, hiking trails, vendor machine rooms and classy bathrooms
- I love Nauvoo in the winter. Not only were Heidi and I the only people there, all the workers gave us their full attention and sometimes strayed off the script in order to make the visit more personal for the both of us. The only drawback was that sometimes in the winter, if it snows really hard, some of the sites are closed down. I may not have gotten to see the inside of the Mansion House, but being there I couldn't help but feel the spirit of Nauvoo. It was a pretty unforgettable experience. Seeing the temple was my favorite part.
- Nebraska is not as boring as I thought it would be. In fact, almost every exit had some kind of art or sculpted statue that could be seen from the freeway. There was one exit that had this arch-type building across the freeway. We don't know if it was a store or a restaurant, but it was pretty cool. I am certainly going to stop there on my next cross country trip!
- Thank you 24-hour BP gas station for being open! Most gas stations in podunkville close at 9 p.m. It is also scary not finding gas when you have 20 miles left of gas in your car and it is snowing outside. Blessed be the name of BP!
- Our GPS, who we named Fran, got lost a couple times. Sure enough she showed us that we were driving in a couple lakes. We also followed her when she told us to get on and off the freeway because she was a little confused.
- Boston and Journey are good pick-me-up bands when driving drowsy. It is not hard to go fast and to the beat...so it is maybe not the best snow-driving music
- By the way, your anti-freeze will freeze at sub-0 temperatures, just be prepared to wash windows with the squeegee at every gas station and be sure to kick ice off your car so you can turn your tires.
- I decided that I need a travel masseuse.
- You can never have too many apples.
- Always carry an Atlas just in case your Fran forgets that I-65 does turn into I-34, and you don't stray into a neighboring city where you can't ask for directions because everything is closed.
- There really is a silent beauty of the Midwest.
- Crashing at the houses of random people ROCKS!
- There is nothing that a pack of peanut M&M's can't solve.
- Most people in Illinois will speed up just enough to tail you for 1 mile and then pass you.
- When both parties in the car are screaming "Run, Katherine, Run....!" you know your book on tape was a genius idea.
- More often than not, it is quite acceptable to go 55 mph in a 70 mph zone when there is 2 inches of snow on the ground. From Omaha to Ft. Madison, we saw 16 semis that had slid off the road and about 10 cars. Needless to say, we slowed down.
- I smile when I put my ipod on shuffle and Cindy Lauper comes on.
- I get random spasms when other people drive my car through snow storms.
- Because my feet are often cold, I burn out my driving mate.
- It is amazing how far one can go on adrenaline and 4 bottles of water without needing to go to the bathroom.
- My favorite billboard advertised "Buses Welcome," at the interstate Subway restaurant. Well, of course they are.
- Sometimes driving on unpacked snow is better because of grip. My motto for driving in the snow "grip, not slip."
- I wish I knew where the largest ball of yarn was, I would have probably stopped to see it.
- I loved the cute older missionaries in Nauvoo feeling inspired to tell us that we are like bricks and diamonds. Being pressed, fired and shaped into something beautiful is what life is all about. I love my new Nauvoo brick!
- When the option to drive is not available, I will sing instead.