November 13, 2009

Let the Games Begin

It seems we've rolled around to that time of year when driving is frequently a game of cat and mouse with mother nature. Ahhh...let the games begin!

Had a bit of slow week, but not as bad as last. We loaded milo yesterday evening in Kansas, and after stopping for the night in Imperial, NE, we got up this morning and drove on up to Sidney, NE.
Sidney is kind of on Malcolm's old home turf. Its still a good hour drive from Bayard, NE, but out here it seems one's "home turf" encompasses hundreds of miles, I believe because everything is so far apart.
Sidney is home to the corporate offices of Cabelas, the infamous hunters paradise. If you have a hunter in the family, then you have a Cabelas catalog somewhere in your house. Trust me. Anyway, they have expanded considerably to have stores all over the country, including Billings (just opened this past Spring), but Sidney is where the original store is. We stop there occasionally to kill time, and did so this morning. After fueling, showering, and getting something eat, Malcolm went in to browse and I puttered around the truck getting some odd jobs done.
I had checked the weather and seen that Colorado was getting it heavy, and that there was a spot or two of activity in Wyoming, so we headed out knowing we'd probably get to play in a little winter weather. And then shortly after pulling out of Sidney, our cow haulin friend called, and when he found out we were headed across I-80, he told us it was snowing hard in Laramie and we'd better get across the hill between Cheyenne and Laramie before dark. He wouldn't be surprised if it would be closed before long.

It seems to me that Wyoming has the most unpredictable and volatile winter weather of all the western states. Crossing Wyoming in the winter can be a little like running the gauntlet.

I've learned over the last few years of driving that a good way to predict what your heading into is to watch oncoming traffic. Trucks tend to tell all in winter.

Ewww! Nasty!

As it turned out, we rolled into Cheyenne and the sun was shining. It had obviously dropped a flake or two, but nothing of great interest. Those trucks must have come north out of Colorado.

or did they...

West of Cheyenne it did start looking a little slick in spots, and it went downhill from there. Well, actually it went uphill literally, but down figuratively.It fascinates me that dangerous things are often beautiful too.

It is beautiful when the wind picks up snow and starts moving it across the roads. It always gives me the sensation of driving on flowing water.

Along the way there were a few incidents, and evidence of people having some issues that they had escaped from and moved on to try and forget about.

The snow plows were out and at work getting drifting snow off the east bound side.

The road finally became packed snow for a brief time, and then about half way down the hill descending into Laramie, it began to clear a bit.

Down in Laramie they had gotten snow, but the roads were pretty clear. The sun was almost gone behind the storm clouds that were hanging in the southwestern sky, and west of town we encountered one of those odd weather experiences. Along with the 20 degree temperature and the snow, it became foggy.

We're nearing Rawlins now. We'll stop there for the night. Just wanted to get across Elk Mountain tonight in case they close it. It wasn't slick, but the wind is blowing the snow around out here, as usual. There are rivers of white blowing across the lanes and reflecting the light from our headlights. Though it wasn't slick, they had dropped the speed limit from the norm of 75 down to 50. But the temperature is up to 22 now, and the sky is clear, so it ought to be a peaceful night in Wyoming.


small farm girl said...

This time of year I'm glad I don't drive trucks. I'm glad my dad doesn't either. Although other family members do. But, I keep close contact with them on facebook. lol. The pictures are beautiful. Please be safe.


Sharon Tachenko said...

I love it - almost like you take us with you on these pictorial excursions! I remember going to Laramie weekly - and "running the gauntlet" pretty much says it! It was pretty much always hideous in the winter. The horizontal snow blizzards - these southerners just wouldn't be able to fathom, huh!? My favorite was the horizontal blizzards that could knock down semis! UGH!

As the games begin - Be safe, indeed!
Love you guys!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Awesome photos of your recent trip. That snow fog is creepy and beautiful.
We got snow here last night, about 2". It's mostly melted tonight, but our temps our now in the low 20's. Brrrrr!

I've never been to Cabelas, probably because there are no hunters in my family and the closest one is in AZ or TX. I've heard so much about them, though that I'm going to add a visit to Cabelas to my Bucket List. haha!

Travel safe,