Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Year Ago Today...December 21st

After loading the last few items onto the U-haul truck and into the back of my car we headed over to the U-haul rental place to pick up our car trailer. That was a whole bunch of work in itself! It had started snowing again and they hadn't shoveled off the car trailer or parking lot so it was a slippery mess. We finally got on the  road a little after noon...which was later than we had wanted.

It takes approximately 7 hours to drive from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. Prior to this trip we'd taken that journey 8 times going back and forth. However, this was the first time that Carl had been the driver and I had been the passenger. I was not comfortable driving the U-haul truck with the car trailer attached so Carl drove.(Side note: I have a fear/ anxiety of being the passenger in the car, this was the first time in over 2 years that I was not actually driving the vehicle myself. I also have a fear of driving on highways and interstates and to this day try to use surface streets instead of freeways. This will be important to remember later in the story since we spent 5 day driving on Highways across the country). 

Another snow storm was brewing and we tried to stay ahead of it as we headed south to North Carolina. The first problem we encountered on our trip south was this...
Every Rest Stop located off the 140 mile stretch of I-79  was CLOSED! If we wanted to tinkle we  had to get off I-79 at a truck stop/ gas station, but we just didn't want to do that with our giant truck with car in tow. 

Here was the next problem we faced...
Look again...
And this wasn't even one of the worst deer sightings we had. Pennsylvania is known for the amount  of deer they have and I can confirm that I had more near misses with deer in PA than I have EVER had in my entire life living else where. They get so close to the road that you never really know when they will dart out. It was even worse when it started to get dark and you couldn't see them until you were literally on top of them. Thankfully, we escaped our time in PA without hitting any deer although there were plenty of near misses. I can also officially say that I have not seen another deer since this trip.

After 140 miles on I-79 it's always nice to merge onto US-19. There are gas stations, restaurants, beautiful views of New River Gorge, and it's just an easier stretch of road...most of the time. At one point I leaned down in the front seat to get something out of my bag and when I sat up it was like we had driven into some kind of weather portal. The road had gone from black and clear to white and snow covered in less than 60 seconds. 

Summersville, West Virginia marks the half way point from PA to NC. We aways stop for gas there. When we arrived at Summersville, the roads had gotten worse and the parking lots of the gas stations were wet, icy, slippery, and not easy to maneuver with a U-haul and car trailer. We attempted to pull into one station but an 18-wheeler was stuck on the ice blocking the entrance. We couldn't  even turn around so we continued a few yards and pulled into a hotel parking lot to turn around. What we  thought was a turn around loop was NOT and we got stuck. Carl then proceeded to make a 50 point turn to get turned around. I would have taken a picture of him but he was pretty pissed of at that point. We finally managed to get out and make it to a gas  station across the street but it was beginning to get dark out now. We usually make it to the half way point in 3 hours but it had taken us over 4 this time. 

Image credit
The most terrifying part of our trip came to us courtesy of the New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia (seen above). It was dark out now, the roads were getting icy, parts of the road were covered in snow, and sometimes there were entire snow banks in the right lane. There is no place for snow to be plowed on the bridge so it was informally reduced to one lane right up the center. Well, an 18-wheeler didn't comply with the new lane restriction and nearly ran us off the side of the bridge! I think I may have pee'd my pants a little. Our side view mirrors came within millimeters of the truck.

And of course the final leg of our trip through the NC Mountains was not relaxing either. If you've ever driven on I-77 South you know there is a stretch at the Virginia/North Carolina border that has a down hill grade of like 3%....which doesn't sound like much but it's terrifying! We could smell the brakes from the U-Haul. Carl told me to call his dad and ask him if we should down shift going down the mountain...that's not what I want to hear/smell as we are careening down the mountain with 18 wheelers on all sides of us...again, I was terrified but Cal did an excellent job and only later did he admit that he nearly sh*t himself going down the mountain out of fear too. 

Nearly ten hours after our departureMooresville, NC. We arrived at Carl's brothers house and unloaded the car from the trailer and drove up the road to his mom's house. Our bed had never been so comfortable.


  1. Wow, that was sure a harrowing trip. We lived in Philly and made quite a few runs to Florida in our younger days to see his folks. Sure brings back nightmares, I mean memories.....lol.....

  2. Your story brought back memories of a couple of trips we made when we were about your age. It is great to look back on them and have a story to share but not fung going through it. It is nice while reading that the story did not end badly and you are telling it to us one year later. Merry Christmas!

  3. I always thought it was strange that all the deer were in PA...lol When we moved from NH to NC and crossed through PA we counted over 40 dead deer on the side of the road...it made me so darn nervous that I made DH stop and get a hotel for the night because I didn't want to add to the deer count. We didn't see hardly any in NH, MA or NY...then in PA...BAM...deer everywhere...must be something in the moutains and woods that they thrive on ;)


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