The Day We Battled Old Mother Iowa

January 1, 1999: We were stuck in Iowa. Quite literally. The UHaul with all our worldly belongings was parked in a the apartment parking lot, freezing into a solid block of ice as the minutes grew, and all major interstates were closed. Travel was not advised. The city was shut down, due to a blizzard. The car trailer for my car was stuck in southern Iowa. (Again, quite literally.)

“Move to Colorado on January 1st?! Bah-hahaha! THINK AGAIN!” Old Mother Iowa screamed.

“YOU’LL NEVER LEAVE!” she screeched and the piles of snow grew and the temperature shrank. By evening it was clear we weren’t headed to Colorado on January 1st.

Rather than wallow in dismay, we kicked things into gear. I called the only friend I had who had a “real house.” I knew this friend was in Eastern Iowa for the holidays, but I had her mother’s landline phone number. (Actually, it was just “a phone number,” because “landline” wasn’t a necessary descriptor.)

“Do you have an outlet on the side of your house?” I asked. “Would it be okay if we plugged our UHaul into it? We can stay a few extra days in the apartment, but the complex has no outlet for us to use, and the truck will freeze solid.”

We were granted permission with a hearty “Of course! You didn’t even have to ask!” followed by a “How are you going to get over there with all the snow?”

We’re make-a-way, find-a-way kind of people, so that wasn’t even an obstacle.
How will we get there? I have no idea other than I KNOW we will. 🙂

My partner in crime drove the UHaul, and I followed in his car. (The plan was to leave the UHaul at our friend’s house and use his car back and forth. To those reading, this was The Hoopty. Oh yeah. You remember that car! You think it’s a boat on a good day, imagine it in the snow! Woooo!)

We’d both logged HOURS of blizzard driving at that point, and with no one else on the roads, it wasn’t that bad. *cough*

Once we made it to the house, my job was to direct him in backing up the UHaul to the garage so we could get it off the street and get it close to the outlet. Keep going…keep going…keep going…keep going…STOP. Perfect!

That’s when I realized I’d been looking at the bottom bumper of the truck and not the top of the truck, which I’d SOMEHOW got him to stop within TWO MILLIMETERS of their gutter! *Eeeeep!* *WHEW!*

Part 1 of the Plan to Escape Iowa’s Clutches was in effect.

Thankful I didn’t have to figure out how to tell them I’d broken their house, we hopped back in The Hoopty and made it back to the apartment.

…where we partied like it was 1999…because it was! There was nothing in the apartment except a table we’d made out of a moving box, where we ate our pizza.

Over the next couple of days, the blizzard raged on. As it waned, the car trailer was delivered, the UHaul was unplugged, and we set off to Omaha, the first stop on the Escape Route. (Where we got the UHaul utterly and thoroughly stuck on the street in front of his parents’ house.) His brother joined the caravan as a driver, and we arranged for a friend in Colorado to pick up our apartment keys, since we were delayed, and the office would be closed for the weekend when we arrived.

Colorado welcomed us with open arms and this strange glowing ball in the sky, which the natives called “the sun” and temperatures that were above freezing…which was odd for it being “winter.” In fact, we stopped for fuel out on the Eastern Plains and peeled off our coats.

“What’s the temperature?” I asked the lady at the check-out.
“Oh, it’s COLD today. I think it’s 35!”
“Wait…ABOVE ZERO?” I asked.

Coloradans still think they know what winter is…but we know the truth. (They have no idea!)

I can’t believe it’s been 17 years now.
What an adventure!

Colorado, thanks for taking us in and becoming our home.

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