One year I had been living in Utah working on my Master’s Degree at Brigham Young University. Since Bruce was still working and living in Portland, he came to visit me for about a week each month. My last semester at BYU ended right before Christmas, so Bruce flew to Utah to help move me back home.
I finished my last final, then Bruce and I packed up my apartment. We put my bed, table, chairs, and kitchen stuff in storage. The rest we stuffed into my car for the trip home. It was so loaded we couldn’t have squeezed in a tube of toothpaste! Then, we cleaned the apartment. We scoured it until it shone and finished up about 11:00 PM. We were really tired.
Though it was cold, snowing, and late, we got in the car and headed for Oregon. Only about 2 1/2 hours into our fourteen hour journey and in the middle of nowhere, the engine heat gauge crept too high to dismiss. It was overheating. The temperature outside was minus 10 so I couldn’t imagine how it could overheat.
Bruce pulled the car to the side of the road and determined it would ruin the car to drive it any further. Luckily our cell phone still had reception. We called AAA for a tow. They said it would take an hour for them to come from Burley, Idaho.
Did I tell you it was cold? It was REALLY cold, so cold our breath INSIDE the car froze on the windshield! We were really tired and could have slept, but were afraid we’d freeze to death!
When the tow truck had not come within an hour and fifteen minutes, we phoned again. They assured us the truck was on it’s way.
Finally after about an hour and a half the truck arrived and hooked us up. We piled into the truck and the driver took us to Burley. We arrived about 4:00 AM the morning of Christmas Eve. Not a creature was stirring in the town except a waitress in an all night diner. The driver dropped us at the restaurant, we went in, sat down, and ordered some hot chocolate. It warmed our insides. We took off jackets, hats, and gloves, put our heads down on the table and promptly fell asleep.
We slept until the regulars started arriving for their morning meal. The garage where our car had been towed opened about 8:00 AM, so about that time we walked to it. The mechanic checked the car, said there was water in the engine, and recommended we not drive it until it was fixed or it would ruin the engine.
What to do? We had to get home. The family was coming to our home the next day for Christmas! We decided to leave the car, find a ride to Oregon, and come back later to get my things.
Burley’s not known for it’s major forms of transportation but it did have a Greyhound bus stop. We gathered what we could carry from the car, hitched a ride to the store, and discovered a bus would be coming through the town in about eight hours. We purchased tickets, sat down in the store’s two chairs, and waited.
The bus finally rolled into town about 4:00 PM and we boarded it. Along the way the bus stopped in a LOT of little towns. It was not a restful trip!
Thirteen hours we were on that bus. Thirteen! It seemed like forever. We arrived at Portland about 5:00 AM Christmas morning and hopped on a city bus to take us home.
That’s how we came to arrive on Christmas morning just a few hours before the family was scheduled to come visit. We didn’t have time to get out any Christmas decorations, so when the family arrived, we had them get the artificial tree and cardboard ornament boxes out of the basement.
They put up the tree and opened the boxes of ornaments I had carefully wrapped in newspaper. The newspaper was shredded! I thought maybe it was old and had deteriorated. No. A little furry mouse had found it’s home in my box. Surprised to have his home disturbed, he jumped out of the box and ran across the room!
The next few moments were a flurry of screams as the mouse ran between daughters’ legs, or moans by the sons who just missed catching it. They chased that mouse around the living room and through the kitchen.
Finally, someone caught it. I think I chose to erase from my memory bank what they did with it.
Let’s just say, it’s a Christmas I remember for how hard it was to make it home and for the surprise we found once we arrived.
Have you had a trial trying to get home for Christmas only to find the day was not as you expected?