Monday, January 28, 2013

Road Closed

 Last year, I lived for those snowy Flagstaff nights. The whole city illuminated with an orangey glow; every sound softened, and the entire ground turned a brilliant, pure white. I lived for the mornings when I was always able to eat bowlfuls of the freshly fallen snow, trudge to class all bundled up and slowly become covered in white as the wind lifted the snow from trees and roofs.
Returning to Flagstaff, I feared that those days were long gone. The whole year had been unusually hot and dry, and only one snow had hit Flagstaff all through December and the first part of January. There was still snow on the ground when I moved in,  but mostly it was hard and dirty. Luckily, however, my fears of not seeing snow fall were unnecessary! This morning I woke up in a beautiful winter wonderland. Throughout all of today (and maybe tomorrow too) snow has been slowly drifting down, covering that old, gross snow with pure perfection. My old delight has returned!
As I walked around, grabbing handfuls of snow to eat off the ground, I thought of some of my snow memories. I have seen, played in , and watched snow fall many times, but the memory that sticks out the most happened on a family road trip through Arizona.
Because I have a large family, going on any sort of a vacation gets expensive. We automatically have to have two hotel rooms, cram into Dad's truck that gets about 18 mpg and does not even seat all of us, and spend bundles of money to buy the simplest of meals. In order to avoid all of that, my family normally takes road trips. We spend the nights camping in the middle of nowhere in our family sized tent.  Meals are carefully planned and packed to avoid the expenses of eating out; we do still have to squish into the uneconomical truck, but we survive.
Well a few years ago our family decided to embark on another adventure and cruise through Arizona for spring break. We would visit my grandparents, see the Grand Canyon, visit NAU (I was applying to colleges at the time), and attempt to see as many small little towns as possible. The trip was so much fun. We hit every destination and created awesome memories. For the final days of the trip, the main goal was just to get home.
Well my dad has driven through Arizona a lot, so instead of taking the regular route home, he had the desire to try a more scenic route. Based on his knowledge of the roads, my family had no fear and decided to let the driver do whatever he wanted. Although we started with complete confidence, it soon faded  when we came to a large sign that read ROAD CLOSED. Instead of turning around and searching for a different side road, Dad decided it did not look too bad and swerved around the sign.  
He was right; the condition was not bad at all. We easily maneuvered
across the dirt road. All was fine and dandy until we turned a corner and a widening in the road appeared. In front of us, the road laid covered in snow. It seemed to only be a few inches deep, but as the truck shuddered to a stop we realized it was not as it appeared. Dad tried accelerating but the wheels just spun, unable to grip the road. After several minutes it was obvious something had to be done. We unloaded our crammed bodies from the truck to view the damage. Sure enough the snow was deeper than expected.

Dad immediately started thinking of ideas to get the truck unstuck. We tried loading into the bed to put more weight on the wheels; we tried pushing; we tried placing rocks and sticks under the wheels for traction. Nothing worked.

As Dad brainstormed, the rest of us played in the snow. Because it was warming up during the day the uppermost part of the snow would melt, but then at night, when it got colder, it would freeze again into ice. Therefore, it created a strong top layer but underneath lay soft, fresh snow. I remember my little sister, Madison, walking on top of the snow. Then unexpectedly it gave out underneath her weight and she dropped through the top layer, quickly submerging herself up to her knees in the snow. Of course we all had to try that! We had a great time sinking into the snow and exposing the softness underneath the ice; however, as usually happens, after five minutes the fun, exciting snow  transformed into a miserable enemy that only sought to freeze us. Soon we resorted to complaining, blaming Dad for disregarding the warning sign.

For the trip, we had decided to leave cell phones behind and live off the grid for a week. My older sister was already upset about that, but she became irate because we now had no way of contacting anyone in our stranded position. All of us sisters became convinced that we might die out there. We could see it in the headlines: Family missing for 3 months discovered behind road closed sign. As our despair and fear and coldness reached its peak, we stuck as many sticks and pine needles under the tires as we could find. Dad got into the driver's seat and gave some gas and we watched amazed as the truck lurched forward!

After three hours of sitting in the snow, the truck finally gained enough traction and pulled through the rest of the snow with ease. We made it through the rest of that road safely, but I think we all learned a valuable lesson about heeding the warning signs on the road and in life.

David A Bednar stated: Early warning signals are evident in many aspects of our lives. For example, a fever can be a first symptom of sickness or disease. Various financial and labor market indicators are used to forecast future trends in local and national economies. And depending upon the area of the world in which we live, we may receive flood, avalanche, hurricane, tsunami, tornado, or winter storm warnings.
We also are blessed by spiritual early warning signals as a source of protection and direction in our lives. Recall how Noah was alerted by God of things not yet seen, and he “prepared [the] ark to the saving of his house” (Hebrews 11:7).
Spiritual warnings should lead to increasingly vigilant watching. You and I live in “a day of warning” (D&C 63:58). And because we have been and will be warned, we need to be, as the Apostle Paul admonished, “watching … with all perseverance” (Ephesians 6:18).
April 2010 General Conference "Watching with All Perseverance"

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