Tuesday, January 6, 2015

When the Wind Blows

When we left on December 19th for our planned Christmas vacation in Colorado, we commented on the lovely driving weather.  Our trip across Wyoming was pleasant and uneventful.

After visiting with family over Christmas we decided to head back home on January 5th.  Although snow had fallen during our stay in Colorado, the forecast for the 5th seemed like it would be a good weather day to travel.  Thus, we set off, bright and early, stopping for breakfast in nearby Loveland.  After breakfast, we headed north towards Cheyenne, still enjoying our drive.

After turning west at Cheyenne, the weather started to change.  Although it was not actively snowing, blowing snow made the visibility very poor.  We couldn't even see the side of the road, so we focused on the flashing tail lights of the truck in front of us to make our way.  The gusts of wind grew increasingly vicious.  Soon we began to see semis parking along the side of the road.  In spite of the weather and slowed traffic, some drivers drove on as if the road were in perfect condition.  One that I recall was a pickup truck pulling a long horse trailer.  A couple of semis had been caught by the wind and turned over.  The emergency traffic broadcast on the radio gave warnings especially to vehicles with light, high loads.  I noticed a few on ramps were blocked so the freeway couldn't be entered from these points.

Our plan was to drive as far as Laramie and then fill up with gas so we could make it the rest of the way across Wyoming.  When we got to exit 310 at Laramie we headed off the freeway to get our gas, noticing at the same time that the gates had been closed on the west side of Laramie.  The road in front of us was closed...and so was the road behind us.  While we were filling up with gas, Roger talked with some eastbound truckers who said road conditions to the west were terrible.  They were sure the road would be closed all day and maybe more.  That is when we noticed that the sides of the road were filled with parked semis.  The 2 truck stops there were filled with semis.  Every vacant lot was filled with parked semis.  I have never in my life seen so many semis parked in one place.

They are difficult to see in the picture but they are lined up on the side of the road from the on ramp for maybe half a mile.  They are visible behind the Super 8 sign.

We debated what to do and then decided to check into the Best Western motel that was right there rather than sit in the car all day waiting for the road to open.  Then we found a local grocery store and found food for lunch and dinner.   After a refreshing nap, we headed to the local movie theater to watch the newest Hobbit  movie.

By the time we woke up the next morning, the freeway was open and traffic was moving again, so we ate breakfast and finished our journey home.  We noticed a total of 13 vehicles which had blown over and off the road.  Eleven of them were semis which had turned over or jack-knifed or both.  One was a 5th wheeler...and one was the horse trailer we saw speeding by the previous day, destroying both the trailer and the truck.

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