Friday, April 7, 2006

One year ago... (our moving in story)

One year ago today we moved into this house... I wasn't thinking much about the anniversary of that move until I woke up this morning to the slap of the snow hitting the windows, and the howl of the wind down the chimney. We're in the middle of a storm here today, and under a blizzard watch... the snow is blowing sideways and our back pasture is hidden by a curtain of white.  It looks (and sounds) exactly like it did one year ago, when we moved in.

 So in honor of that anniversary, and all this tumbledown house has put us through since then, I thought I'd celebrate by sharing the story of that move.

 After many years of living in the same house in the city, we decided it was time for a drastic change... a move to the country. After a crazy few months of looking at houses, and getting our old house sold, we ended up with a fairly narrow window of time to actually get ourselves moved. We had to give possession of our old house to the new owners just three days after getting possession of the new house. (That seems like plenty of time now, but remember we were moving 18 years and 5 kids worth of stuff!) As the date for the move got closer, the weather reports were forecasting a snow storm for day two of our three moving days. As the day got closer the forecast got more ominous... it was supposed to be a huge storm, and dump lots of snow. Hmmm... what to do? We decided to really push to  get everything to the new house on day one... just in case the weatherman was right. We didn't want to have to deal with getting moving trucks through deep snow...

 April 6th of 2005 was a beautiful day... We had lots of help coming, and I had the old house completely packed and ready for our "movers" (friends and family). The entire house was empty and all our things loaded into trucks by mid-afternoon. We filled two 24' moving trucks and a long horse trailer (with stuff from the garage). The new house is about 25-30 miles away from the old house and by the time we got there it was late afternoon and still warm, but the wind was starting to pick up. We quickly unloaded the house stuff into the garage, and the outside stuff into the barn. As we unloaded the temperature was dropping by the minute... When we finished, the garage was absolutely stuffed full of boxes and furniture...there was just a narrow path through the garage to the door into the house.. As soon as we unloaded, M, R and I went to a motel about 20 minutes away (so we could have beds!) and dh and older daughter K went back to the old house (because they didn't mind sleeping on the floor).

 The storm started during the night sometime and when I woke up the next morning I could hear the wind outside the motel room window. I pulled back the heavy drapes but couldn't seem to get ahold of the white sheers that still covered the window. It took a minute to realize that the sheers were already pulled back, but the air outside was so thick with fine flakes of snow that it was like trying to see through sheer white curtains.

 It was still very early, hadn't been snowing too long, and there wasn't much snow on the roads yet. So, rather than risk getting snowed in at the motel (at $100. a night!), I decided to head to the new house. It wasn't that far, and most of the way was on main roads... so I thought we'd be fine.

 The kids and I checked out, and headed east. The roads were slippery, but the snow wasn't deep and the visibility was ok. I crept along (I hate driving on ice) and was about a third of the way there when the back end of the car just started moving sideways (seemingly on it's own). It was the strangest feeling... the back end of the car was moving sideways, gathering speed as it moved in a circle, and eventually the front end just followed it around. It felt as though neither the brake nor the steering wheel were attached to anything... I couldn't stop the slide. We went up and over the median (mowing over a bunch of evergreen bushes in the process) onto the wrong side of the four lane road, then... still spinning, up and over the median again ending up back where we started (even facing the right direction!). We sat for a minute, while I calmed the kids (and myself) and then I tentatively put the car back into gear to see if it was still drivable. It WAS! It drove funny though, so I stopped and quickly checked it... no flat tires, no obvious damage... so we kept on going.

 It was such a strange drive... the farther east we drove the worst the blizzard got. I could see nothing but white at times, and we were almost the only ones on the road. We made it through the little town closest to the new house, and started up the hills leading to the house. The car still felt funny, but it just kept moving (and I just kept praying). We were about 2 miles from the new house when the car stopped. It was still running but would no longer move forward. We were out in the country by now, and I was pretty worried. It was just the kids and I... in a broken car, in a  howling blizzard... and my cell phone didn't have any reception. Within just a few minutes though, I saw a big SUV heading towards us (from the direction we were going) and flagged them down. The woman driving said she'd turn around and come back for us. While she was gone I backed the car off the road (it would still go backwards!). The kids grabbed their overnight bags, and I grabbed M's meds, and we jumped in the SUV.

 As it turned out, the woman who stopped lives in our new neighborhood. She had left to go to town, but had decided to turn around and go back home when she saw how bad the snow was. Had my car stopped any sooner, she would have already turned around and missed us...

 By the time she dropped us at the new house, it was more than four hours after we'd left the motel for the 20 minute drive to the house, and the snow was about a foot deep. We ran down the driveway and into the garage, then found the light switch and wound our way, through the boxes and things, upstairs and into the house. The house was cold, but I turned up the heat and we finally warmed up. I tried to make a fire in the fireplace, but the wind was blowing so hard that it was blowing down the chimney and I couldn't get a fire started.

 That first morning we had a "breakfast" of sprite and chips that had been leftover snacks from the day before. Then I started digging around and found a box of pantry food, a tiny TV set, a radio, and an old plug in telephone. That gave us food, a way to check on the weather, entertainment for the kids (kind of... the TV had no antenna) and I was able to call dh and let him know that we were ok.

 We were snowed in for 2 days before dh and K could make it to the house. During that time I unpacked some boxes, and moved some of the smaller furniture into the house. We ate a lot of instant oatmeal and canned soup during those days, and slept together on the floor. The kids still enjoy talking about "camping out" here at the house...

 When I finally got my car dug out and towed to a repair shop, we were told that I had a broken axle from the accident, and it had also caused other major problems in the rear end. They were surprised that I was able to drive it at all after the axle broke, and were really surprised to hear it had gone another 10 miles or so. They said the rear wheel really should have fallen off... (I'm thinking it took several "every day" miracles to get us home through that storm!)

 Well... the wind is still blowing sideways here so I'll end this with a couple of pictures I took earlier today...

 Looking out through the ice covered window...



Can you by looking at this tree, which direction is north? 

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