Saturday, May 25, 2013

Unemployed and Homeless

It's official. We are now living with our parents (kinda bouncing back and forth between them actually) and Ethan is job hunting full time. So far it's been really nice to get to be around our family and not have to worry about any responsibilities like church callings, school, jobs, etc... Don't worry, while it is nice to do this for a few weeks, we don't plan on being bums for the rest of our lives. Ethan's working hard to figure out where our next step in life is going and then we'll be back on our own two (or I guess I should say four?) feet again.
Moving is not much fun. Moving with a toddler is REALLY not much fun. But we made it! We lucked out because my dad was able to borrow a nice enclosed trailer from a friend that was the perfect size (quite literally) for all our crap, so he and my younger brother drove out to Starkville to help us with the move and we saved a ton of money on the trailer rental we would otherwise have gotten. They got there the evening of the 14th, and we spent most of the evening just hanging out and enjoying one another's company. After Dad and Brig went to bed (they'd just finished a 22 hour drive and were facing turning right around and doing it again, so they were pretty worn out!) Ethan and I went into overdrive and packed and cleaned late into the night. Erik woke us all up bright and early Wednesday morning, so we got up and packed and cleaned some more and loaded the trailer and we were ready to go by 10:00 that morning. Dad and Brig rode in Dad's truck pulling the trailer, and we took our Durango. I knew it was going to be a long two days, so I made sure to pack a bunch of stuff to keep Erik busy, and it made all the difference in the world!
We decided to take a slightly different route than the previous times we've made the trek from MS to NM. Instead of going through Jackson and Vicksburg we decided to mix things up a bit and go through the Mississippi river delta area. Dad and Brigham had never seen the area before and I've only been through it at night, so it was a fun change.
Day one of our trip.
We did get to see something new this time too. In the half a dozen times we've crossed the Mississippi and in all the times we've crossed over the Tenn-Tom we've never seen a barge go by. That day as we crossed the river there were three huge barges all headed downstream. It was pretty impressive to see just how big they were and how much they could haul. 

We didn't take many pictures while on the road this time, so I don't have much to share in that department. The delta area is really neat and so different than the rest of Mississippi. Everything is completely flat, and because of all the farms you can see for miles without all the trees. The part of Arkansas that we drove through was pretty, but like everywhere in the south there isn't much too see besides trees. Sometime in the early afternoon it started raining. It was just a little bit of a drizzle, but not too bad. As we headed farther and farther west, the rain picked up more and more, so that by the time we reached Dallas, TX it was a pretty good storm. I didn't think much about it though, it'd been raining all day and I guess we'd all just gotten used to it as it got worse and worse. Did you watch the news last Wednesday? Do you know where I'm going with this?
As we were driving through downtown Dallas on the freeway I was looking out the window at the skyline when I suddenly noticed a huge LED billboard with nothing on it but the words TORNADO WARNING. I pointed it out to Ethan, but we really weren't sure if it was actually a warning. It was so bright and colorful it looked like it could've been advertising some new theme park ride or something. A minute or two later we saw another sign, and another, and then we realized this was REAL! While a tornado watch means there isn't a tornado but conditions are favorable to form one, a warning means there is one confirmed in the nearby area. I called Dad (who was a few minutes behind us) to tell him about the warning and and discuss travel options, and as soon as I hung up the phone I looked out the window just in time to see a funnel cloud silhouetted in a bolt of lightning off to our north. Needless to say that was a pretty tense visit to Dallas! We turned off I-30 and headed south (not because we were trying to get away from the storm or anything, just because I apparently shouldn't be trying to read a map and give directions at the same time that I am freaking out about tornadoes just outside my window) and by a stroke of pure luck the protecting hand of a loving Father in Heaven we ended up taking a route that went right between the mile wide tornado to the south of us and the dozen or more tornadoes that were sighted in the Dallas area that night. If we'd taken the time before turning off our original course to listen to the warnings on the radio (which made it sound like the more southerly route was the more dangerous one) we probably would've stayed on the route we were on and headed right into some of the worst of the storm. We were pretty nervous though as we pressed onward, listening to the warnings and storm reports that sounded like we were headed right into the thick of it. 
I do have to clarify though, that when I said "we" turned off the freeway and ended up in the safer area, I only meant Ethan, Erik, and I. Dad and Brig missed the exit and actually ended up heading north through downtown (remember where I said I saw the funnel cloud?). They quickly realized their mistake and started trying to find their way back on course but the rain was coming down so hard they couldn't read the road signs or even see any lane markings. They finally stumbled back onto the freeway, but the weather was so bad they had to pull right back off again. They were blessed to have pulled of on an exit ramp that turned and went into an underpass (meaning underground) where they found a couple other cars that had stopped for shelter there. They decided to follow the lead of the locals and they waited under the underpass as well. Just moments after they stopped they heard a roaring noise that sounded like a train (according to Dad) or a jet engine (according to Brig), and then everyone else around them started to drive away. They just thought a really big truck had gone overhead or something like that and when the others started leaving the underpass they followed suit and got back on the freeway again, only to have to pull off again a few minutes later and take shelter in a restaurant. As they ordered their dinner and watched the news, they realized that had been one of the tornadoes passing directly overhead when they were sheltering in the underpass. They also found out that there was another tornado just across the freeway from them, and had to just wait and pray that they would be safe.
We were on the phone with them a lot during this entire experience sharing what we knew about conditions and locations of storms, and it was SO TERRIFYING to know that they were back there in all of that! We all eventually made it out of the Dallas/Fort Worth area unscathed. We were pretty pumped up on adrenaline and felt like we could just keep driving all night. Then, about the time we got out of the storms, the adrenaline wore off and we found a cheap hotel and called it quits for the night. That was WAY too much adventure for us all and we were glad it was over!
Day two of our trip dawned bright and sunny. We found somewhere to grab a bite of breakfast and hit the road. It was a pretty uneventful day, especially since we were driving through the uninteresting vast boring unending mind-numbing immense tedious stretches of West Texas. Trust me, you'll have way more fun coming up with words to describe the endless interminable monotony that is Texas than actually driving through it. Don't go there! Just say NO.
FINALLY we crossed the Rio Grande into the "Land of Enchantment" and we were almost home! Except there was no "rio" to cross. I guess things are dryer here than I realized. 

There really isn't any water there. Not a drop. Unlike MS, the rivers here are not the same color as mud so you would know if there was water here. 
 Finally after 22 hours of driving time, we made it to Cotton City just in time to see the sunset over the dry lake beds. Oh how I've missed these wide open spaces!

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