First Person

First Person: Road Trip!

Illustration by Travis Foster

The BYU Ride Board brought together all kinds.

Snowballing Trouble

By Laura Hill Gray (BS ’79), Ketchikan, Alaska

It was a biting-cold early morning in the Sierra Nevadas, and it was snowing heavily. The riders in our car were returning to BYU after Christmas break in Sacramento, Calif. The owner of the car had chains, but they were too big and no one knew how to put them on correctly. One of the guys jerry-rigged them as best he could. This left several links of chain that would hit inside the wheel wells as we drove along, making a terrible noise—loudest in the back, where I was sitting. The faster we drove, the louder the sound. So we tried to drive slow.

Right at the height of the blizzard, one of our windshield wipers flew off onto the side of the road. Before we could stop, the other one flew off onto the highway and a truck ran over it. During a break in the traffic, we fetched the crumpled wipers and tried our best to fit them back on.

When we finally made it to the Salt Flats—by then, late in the evening—we thought our worries were over. But then, with no warning, a patch of black ice sent us spinning around three times before we landed in the highway median. It was a miracle we didn’t hit anyone.

I finally made it to my apartment around 1 a.m. and called my mom, who couldn’t believe it had taken me 18 hours to get back to BYU.

FirstPerson72

Pressed into Service

By Diane Smith Cales (BA ’91, MA ’98), Bountiful, Utah

I grew up on a Utah County farm, and each summer from the time I was 9 I would stay with my older sister, who lived in Northern California. It was always a challenge to find transportation there and back. An older girl in my ward who was a BYU student said she would post a request on the Ride Board for me if I ever couldn’t arrange a ride.

In May 1962, when I was 14, I had no options to get to California, so I took the student up on her offer. Soon after, I got a call from another student who was going to California as soon as school got out; all I had to do was pitch in for gas. He already had three others riding with him. They planned to drive at night because it would be cooler.

We headed off to California, and I could tell all the students, having just finished finals, were exhausted. They took turns driving and sleeping, but there wasn’t enough sleeping time for any of them. Finally, the owner of the car asked me if I knew how to drive. I truthfully told him that, as a farm girl, I’d been driving for years. I reminded him that I was only 14 years old and didn’t have a driver’s license, but his weariness won out over his concern for legality. So I took the wheel in Wendover, Nev., and drove through the night across the state, with my traveling companions sound asleep in their seats. They woke up refreshed in Reno and took turns driving us the rest of the way. It was a memorable experience for me, and, fortunately, we all arrived safely!

Not a Word Till New Mexico

By Nancy Checketts Pearce (BA ’10), Mountainburg, Ark.

Needing to pay off medical bills after breaking my jaw in intramurals my sophomore year, I decided against buying a plane ticket home to Arkansas for Christmas break. My sister visited the Ride Board and found a young family headed in that direction. She arranged for them to pick me up the Friday before Christmas, half an hour after my final appointment with the oral surgeon. This seemed perfect.

The problem was that the final appointment is when all the wires and metal come out. I either had to be put under or have my entire mouth numbed. I chose the latter, thinking it would be more convenient.

I couldn’t even utter a thank-you to the doc as I left, much less introduce myself when the couple picked me up. They had an 18-month-old son; my communication was about as good as his. We rode all the way to New Mexico before I said one word to them. They kept trying to talk to me, and I would smile and motion. That would have been OK, but the lack of oral control extended beyond speech; I was perpetually drooling and had to make sure the gauze stayed secure in my mouth.

For all the awkwardness of that drive, I should have just had myself put under!

Stacking the Odds

By Nathan E. (BA ’02, MS ’08) and Jelaire Lemmon Richardson (’09 MS), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Nathan: I was going up to Rigby, Idaho, to visit my brother, so I posted my number and got eight or nine messages in reply. I ignored all the guys and called only the girls back.

As I filled my car, my attention was drawn to the cute blonde I picked up last. I determined to arrange some way to stay connected after the trip. But she had mentioned a boyfriend, so I couldn’t just ask her on a date. I also learned that she liked C. S. Lewis, so I mentioned that I held a weekly reading group at my house where we were studying Mere Christianity. I told her she should come and she was welcome to bring her boyfriend.

Jelaire: By the time of the drive back home on Sunday, the interest was mutual. I had been planning on breaking up, so I took advantage of a friend’s phone call as a way to encourage Nathan. “How are things going with me and my boyfriend? Oh, not well, actually.” The car was quiet now. “Yeah, I’m thinking I’ll break up with him. When? Oh, probably tomorrow or Tuesday.”

And so that’s why, on Tuesday afternoon, I got a call from my future husband—before he could even be sure I’d broken up!

And the C. S. Lewis reading group? When I showed up that week, they were on chapter one.

A Thanksgiving Surprise

By Janet Sharpe Bradshaw (BS ’72), Richmond, Va.

The closer it got to Thanksgiving my freshman year, the more homesick I became. I decided to see if I could make a surprise visit home to San Diego. I checked the Ride Board and found what seemed like a good opportunity—a car leaving at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Eve and traveling all night. The driver was a returned missionary, so I had no fear. Little did I know.

Three other girls rode with us. I sat next to the door behind the passenger seat. The farther we got from Provo, the faster we went. Our driver put the pedal to the metal, and we averaged between 90 and 100 mph. I was scared out of my wits. The other girls soon fell fast asleep—I couldn’t sleep a wink.

The driver had hung his Sunday suit, shirt, and tie on the hook right next to where I was sitting. The car got a little stuffy, so I opened the window a few inches for some fresh air. Suddenly—whoosh—the wind got a hold of his tie, and it flew out the window! I didn’t say a word.

I’d expected to arrive around 6:30 a.m., but we showed up much earlier. I went into my house and just crashed on the couch. When my mother awoke and saw me, she started yelling for my dad. He couldn’t believe it. We had a wonderful reunion. I was so glad I’d sneaked home. Little did I know, one year later, the Lord would call my mother home. So that road trip, in my mind, was the greatest Thanksgiving surprise ever.

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