Three things went wrong, but bad things come in threes so by the end of the day, our luck changed.
Early start, we went to the storage place to drop off more stuff to free up space in the back of the car. We were there around 8am, this is important for later.
Reached the U-haul place to pick up the trailer aroud 9am. It’s not a proper office but a car repair place that also rents out U-hauls. The guy there was busy so by the time we finished the paperwork and he got the trailer hooked up it was something like 10.30am. We were hoping that we’d be almost finished loading by this time so we’re behind schedule.
#1 thing that went wrong today: the road into the storage place was closed. It was open just a few hours ago and there were no signs to say it would be closed. We had to take a long detour, and ridiculously by the time we came back to the street the workers were reopening the section. We wasted more than half an hour driving in a circle.
But there was work to be done. Had to transfer all the boxes in the storage unit into the trailer. Last year when we took out stuff from the storage unit there were 4 cars and 6 people. This year it was just the two of us. Since I was able to work inside the trailer without needing to bend down, it made sense for me to be the one packing the trailer. It was hard work in hot weather. Although the trailer was parked right outside the unit, we still needed to move may be 100 boxes–some very tall and a lot of them containing books–a few feet, lift them up, push them to the back, arrange neatly and tie them down row by row with a rope. Had to take 2-3 breaks in the car, sitting for a few minutes, rehydrating and cooling down in the aircon. Took 1.5-2hrs but finally got it done.
Estimate start of the trip: 1pm. Had to navigate out of Chicago and driving the trailer seemed quite hard. There were strange noises coming from the back whenever we hit the smallest of bumps on the road. We loaded the trailer as instructed, putting the heaviest items in front. The hitch and the towbar was very, very low and only 1-2 inches off the ground. Wasn’t sure what to do, the hitch and trailer were all installed by official U-haul people so what were we to say. The mpg was atrocious, and we had to drive slowly too. Not a very smooth start.
#2 thing that went wrong today: as we continued south, around Lincoln and still in Illinois, the sky turned grey and dark, heavy clouds appeared. It felt like tornados would form. I checked the weather app and saw that there was a severe thunderstorm warning with heavy rain and winds up to 70mph. There was no way around the storm, the highway led us straight to it.
When it hit, it was really, really bad. Visibility turned to almost zero suddenly and everyone had to slow down and use their hazard lights. It got so bad that at one point, we pulled over to the hard shoulder, unable to continue. It was getting dark, we’d been up since 7am, driving for 5hrs and we couldn’t go on. At this rate we’d get to Vegas on Monday!
#3 thing that went wrong today: we finally limped into a service station, a truck stop. The rain was pelting down and many other drivers were doing the same.
When we checked the trailer we discovered to our horror that its lights weren’t working. Can’t drive in the dark. Actually, can’t drive at all because cars behind us wouldn’t be able to see brake lights and indicator lights. The call to U-haul roadside assistance was rather frustrating and involved a lot of repetition and waiting. Things looked slightly better when the conclusion was that we should make our way to the nearest U-haul place to get the lights and fuses looked at. The agent said it’s 3 miles away but in actual fact it was 15 miles. We had about 45mins to get there before it closed.
Driving carefully, we made our way to Springfield, IL. Got a glimpse of the capital building and was delayed for 10mins while a train blocked the road. We got to the place around 6.45pm.
The 2 U-haul staff proved to be our angels. They fixed the fuses so we had lights. They also looked at the hitch and said the other guy hooked it up wrong, it should face up and not down which was why the front was sitting so low. Using our jack, one staff raised the trailer, fixed the hitch and it looked so much better–no longer an inch off the ground and the overall driving experience was more stable and smooth. Without their help our trip would have been miserable.
The storm passed but there was still rain, and a lot of lightning. The sunset was very beautiful and we sad a full rainbow. mm and I always say rainbows are good luck. We certainly hope, and it certainly felt, that things were looking up and the trip would get better.
We drove past St Louis and it was 10pm when we found a hotel and checked in.
tl;dr: long day that started in the worst way possible; angels and double rainbow turned our luck around.