March 21, 2011

Springtime? Really?

The first day of Spring! So many of us have longed for this day, looking for its coming with great anticipation!
 We woke to springtime in Kingman, AZ. It was overcast, cool, and breezy. Not the typical Kingman weather.
Did I say breezy? Maybe I meant quite windy.
 For the past number of years, US93 over Hoover Dam has been closed to trucks for security reasons. And the whole time I kept wondering, isn't a car just as capable of hauling explosives for a terrorist? But apparently trucks are more threatening, so we were required to take the long way around. Until a few months ago, when they finally finished the new bridge and reopened the route for trucks! We had never been on this section of US93, as it was closed before I started trucking. So I was eager to hit the road and see new terrain.
 The skies stayed overcast and it was actually quite hazy. A disappointment since the air is usually rather clear. I was hoping for some exceptional photographs of the geography, but as it was, most of the landscape is hard to appreciate in the pictures I got.
 Still, you get the idea. Dirt, desert plants, and lots of big rocks. Not exactly the kind of place I would want to live, but it is enjoyable to drive through it and sight see.
 Finally, after about 60 miles or so, we approached an area of deep canyons cut through the ground and caught glimpses of the Colorado River. It appears the the camera enhances the haziness. Unfortunately, because even with the haze in the air, it was still quite beautiful. However, the pictures do not really produce the same sensation.
 The river was not the only thing peaking at us around the rocks. The road was also disappearing and then re-emerging across the dips and swells of the landscape.
 This is one of the newer attempts being made in certain areas of the country to protect wildlife from traffic. There were several of these "overpasses" along this stretch of US93. It is not a road. High fences line the roadway in both directions, guiding animals wishing to cross the road to this overpass. They are able to cross safely without risk of injury to animal or motorist. Expensive, but brilliant...and its about time something like this was done. I hate it when I hit a deer or other critter!
 Not for animals, but for motorists. When a bridge appeared, we knew we were fast approaching the highlight of the trail.
 And there it is. In the anticipation of seeing Hoover Dam for the first time, I completely forgot to change back to my short range lens, and by the time I realized my mistake it was too late. As suspected, no facilities are provided for truck driving tourists like us, so I had to click the camera button fast and see what I could as Malcolm drove across the bridge as slowly as he dared.

 And on the other side of the bridge we entered the great state of Nevada.
 Once we got past the hills there behind the sign, we were able to look back and see Lake Mead.
 And shortly after that we crossed the intersection where the old detour re-connects with US93 and we were back on old turf. I had never before realized just how close Hoover Dam is to Las Vegas. They are not far apart at all.
 And also we took a chance and stayed on US95 through Las Vegas instead of taking the 215 around the south side. US95 has been under construction where it reconnects to I-15 and its was a mess. We've avoided it for over a year now. But, to our delight, it was worth the risk. The project was finished and we were able to breeze right through without any hangups. We were staying on US95 all the way north to I-80.

This is a pretty drive through the Nevada back country. It kind of meanders along, running somewhat parallel to the CA/NV border, passing through a handful of old mining towns that are hanging on to life by a thread. Though the haziness had lifted, the weather was far from Spring-like.
 And it wasn't long before I ran into this...
 Know, you don't need eye drops. That, my dear friends, is a brief but rather intense snow storm, with high winds to boot. I found myself laughing (not the "haha" kind but the "near mental breakdown" type). I had  planned a beautiful drive through sunny Nevada, stopping along the way to let the girls out to play. Instead it was 33 degrees and falling, with thick heavy wet snow plastering my truck.

The snow lasted about 25 miles. After that the temperature shot up to about 42 and the sky almost cleared. My hope was renewed. But then...
 ...the wind hadn't let up any at all, and since it hadn't snowed here, the dirt was flying!
 For about 150 miles!

Needless to say, Malcolm, the girls, and I spent the first day of Spring tucked into the truck, with the windows up and the air circulator turned on in an attempt to keep the dirt out. Even with these measures taken, I still felt gritty. Probably in my head, but still unpleasant.

Last night, as we neared our destination we passed some truck stops with GOBS of trucks parked all over the place. Our initial reactions was "what on earth!!!" And then Malcolm had a thought, called 511 and sure enough...I-80 was closed over Donner's Pass due to snow. Good grief! Fortunately we weren't going that far. We got to stop near Reno and deliver. While we were dumping the product out, which took about an hour and a half, it started to snow again, though it didn't have the nerve to stick to the ground.

We finished unloading and traveled back east about 15 miles and went to bed.

This morning...
 Sometime during the night, the sky had the nerve to dump about 4 inches of very wet heavy snow on the ground. I was offended, though it did make for some pretty pictures of Nevada's mountains. It seems mostly its just truckers and crows who have the gumption to get out and about today.

It did not make for pretty driving, for about 50 miles. But then things cleaned up. We're sitting here in Winnemucca now waiting to load. Its 37 degrees and spitting snow. So far the second day of Spring has been about as disappointing as the first, weather wise.
We're heading to Dodge City, Kansas. I have high hopes that Kansas won't let me down!

PS: By the way, I guess its obvious by now that we got out of the shop in Dallas. It was something with the radiator. They replaced a part, taking till Friday morning to finish. And it cost more than they said of course, about $3000. But we made it back on the road in time to grab a weekend load. Strangely, this morning when we turned the truck on to warm up, the low antifreeze alarm went off again. Hmm....


Sharon Tachenko said...

WOW! Always an adventure, looking over your shoulder! Love the pictures and vivid descriptions. (Your writing just keeps getting better with each post, Sarah!)

Surely spring WILL come to your part of the world! But for now, Tennessee promises to hold nothing but flowers and sunshine for the special weekend to come! Maybe we'll be lucky enough to see you then!
Hugs! Stay Safe!

Meagan said...

WOW, snow? That's crazy! I loved the picture of Hoover Dam... I'd like to come see it myself one day! LOVE YOU!

Dreaming said...

I am so glad that you posted pictures from the new bridge. I love that area of the country and haven't been there for a bit. What a view from the bridge - wow!
I think your morning picture with the snow-capped mountain is gorgeous. Well, perhaps not the thing you want to see in March... but pretty none-the-less!

small farm girl said...

Those are some pretty pictures! Our spring days have been in the 70's. I'm not bragging though, it's suppose to get down into the 30's again. :(

Danni said...

What is it about the onset of spring and the NUTTY weather it brings with it?! You really saw quite the assortment of weather events, didn't you?
Second to the last picture: Absolutely GORGEOUS!!