Wednesday, March 30, 2016 - First day on the road to Nauvoo, Snow, and Miracle on Vail Pass
This morning at 9:00am Sis. Johnson and I were on the road to Nauvoo but not without a lot of hesitation, planning and prayer. The original plan was for all 19 of the Senior Missionaries to drive north to the I-80 and take it all the way through Wyoming, Nebraska and Iowa to the Mississippi River, then drop south to Nauvoo. But. . . . a large winter storm was threatening to close the roads across Wyoming so our departure would need to be delayed a day or two.
Our trip through the Rockies was uneventful until Sis. Johnson and I got within 8 miles of the Vail Summit at 10,600 ft. It had been snowing for a couple of hours by then and there were about 2 inches of hard packed snow on the road. The snow on the road posed no problem but then, for an unknown reason, all of the traffic slowed and then stopped.
Our Ford Focus and trailer had done great up to that point but as we slowed down the car began to lose traction. The anti-skid traction program in the transmission kicked in and the vehicle began to stutter, shudder and sputter! Several times we were reduced to going only one mile per hour. We still had 4 miles before we reached the Vail Summit and it looked like we were stuck in the snow for good in near “White Out” conditions.
That’s when Sis. Johnson texted here whole family, “Need Prayers Now”! After another 15 minutes of trying to coax the car to role forward we had only traveled a few hundred feet. Finally we came to a complete stop, it was steep uphill and the car would move no further. To make things worse in the past 30 minutes we hadn’t seen a single car on the road with us. We were stuck with no help and no prospect of rescue. Sister Johnson laid her head on the dash and said her own personal prayer for help.
When she looked up, a tow truck pulled up in front of us, in answer to all of the prayers, Sister Johnson’s and all of her family back home. The tow truck driver walked up and asked, need a tow to the top of the pass? Then another man walked up to Sis. Johnson’s window and asked, Can I help? It was Elder Stoker, one of the seniors on his way to Nauvoo too. He happened to see us on the side of the road and pulled over to help. It was a miracle, literally a miracle in answer to dozens of prayers by us and our family.
By the end of the day we had been rescued, the car worked perfectly, we drove over two more snow packed summits without a problem, and we were in Golden Colorado in a nice warm hotel room for the night. What wonderful miracles! Our Heavenly Father does hear and answer our prayers.
Other noteworthy events and “Tender Mercies” today included: Our delay on top of Vail Summit meant that we were about an hour late getting to the bottom of the mountain. When we finally did get near the bottom all traffic was detoured off of I-70 to bypass a huge multiple car pileup on the freeway. That huge traffic accident happened at about the same time we and the Stokers would have been driving through that area. We both could have been involved in the terrible accident. My car troubles may very well have been the Lord saying, “Go a little slower, it's better if you get there a little later”!
(Sister Rusty Miller’s comments about her experience over the Vail Summit: Tender mercies were all around us Wednesday night. As I approached the top of Vail Pass, the altitude wreaked havoc with my ear, threatening to rupture my fragile right ear drum. We were crawling slowly over the top. Each exit after the summit looked more dangerously slick with ice than the ne before. So we headed slowly down the pass. I thought we were the last in the group. But we were hardly over the summit when two other people texted that they were stuck in Vail due to closure. We carefully made our way down to the first well cleared exit in Georgetown. The slow but steady descent was a Godsend for my poor ear. We found nearly the last room in a hotel and I was able to sleep painfree. I felt bad for those held back and yet rejoiced that I wasnt spending my night in an emergency room. This morning a gas station attendant told us that there was a multiple car accident at the Vail Summit just before the road was closed and I am surely grateful none of us were involved.)