W-W-W-Wyoming is closed? W-W-W-What?!?

Saturday February 25, 2012

Wow, what an eventfully uneventful day. My day started extremely productive. First thing in the morning I kicked JO out of my hotel room and told him to get a shuttle to the airport, I was too sleepy to drive him at 4:30 in the morning. Later I visited my new best friends at Safelite. They supposedly fixed my windshield. The marks are still there but now full of epoxy. After that it was a car wash and a delicious plate of biscuits and sausage gravy followed by a homemade cinnamon bun. By 10 am I had all that done as well as mostly caught up on work. I loaded up the fully repaired and newly cleaned Cruiser and set the GPS for Salt Lake City. That was the beginning of another adventure.

The drive out of Colorado was uneventful, I was lured into a false sense of security when I hit Wyoming. There were really high winds and snow blowing to and fro. Is Wyoming always this windy? I couldn’t even drive the speed limit because of the wind. Let me explain what I mean, I was driving into the wind with the pedal to the metal (yes, I was West Bound and Down), and I was UNABLE to achieve the posted speed limit. The view from the cockpit was only 2 colors. It was an expanse of white with 2 jet-black strips running parallel to each other called I-80. It was quite the site to see. Regardless of the weather, I was not letting that thwart the Carnival. I made it to the half way point of Wyoming. Near Rawlings, WY I started to see a lot of flashing signs and lights, I-80 was closed ahead. Shortly after the signs there were highway patrol and barriers forcing everyone off the next exit. This was around 1pm. I got off the exit and luckily there was a truck stop right there. As soon as I pulled in I immediately felt like I was in a Stephen King novel.

I filled up with gas and asked around inside what happens now. I got 2 different answers to my question…nothing and wait. I sat in my car listening to the radio and watching traffic be forced off the interstate and feeling my car rock back and forth because of the wind. I actually thought I was going to tip over at some points. One guy told me that this was most likely going to last overnight. I had come to grips with the fact that I might be spending the night in the car. No big deal, I had a full tank and was sitting next to a gas pump in case I needed more gas. What I didn’t have was food, so I dashed into the truck stop and got myself a super nutritious truck stop dinner. I must have been part of the first vehicles that were completely diverted of the interstate. When I parked at the truck stop there were not many people or vehicles there. The whole place filled up quickly and there were semis and cars parked everywhere, lining all the on and off ramps, and the shoulders of the highway in front of me. Apparently this is fairly common around here and tonight was not even that bad. I ended up just sitting in my car, listening to the radio, playing scrabble, smoking cigars, and flicking my ashes toward the gas pumps and propane tanks.

I sat there for about 5 or 6 hours. The time actually went by pretty quickly, there were plenty of sights and sounds to stay entertained. I think the craziest thing I saw were birds trying to fly. These birds looked like they were flying backwards. They were flapping their wings and facing west, but their bodies were moving east. It was nutty. I tried to get a video of it a few times, but no luck. I did get this video, but it’s crap and doesn’t really show the dominance of the winds like I hoped it would. The funniest thing I saw was a trucker get out of his truck to take a leak. First it was obvious that the wind had him fooled and he ended up pissing all over himself. Then he tried to get back in his truck and he could barely walk to the cab door. When he got up on the steps and got the door open he got blown back off. Valiantly he climbed up again, made it into the seat and then struggled for about a minute before he could get the door closed. I was constantly checking the Wyoming DOT website for updates, but as this screenshot of my phone shows the entire state was shut down.

I finally gave up the idea that I might be able to get back on the road tonight. I also heard rumors that truckers get horny around 1am, and there is no doubt that I would be an appealing out-of-towner to them. I’m probably the equivalent of a southern girl getting off the bus at Penn Station in New York City looking for an acting gig. There was the town of Rawlings an exit east of where I was sitting. I looked into getting a hotel room as soon as I got off the exit 6 hours earlier. Apparently I wasn’t the only person with the idea of getting a room. When I checked again online the hotels were booked. I made a couple phone calls and found a room pretty easily. This is where I sit now comfortably and safely(?). The wind is howling outside louder than I can describe. The room is kind of irregular. The only thing the main room is missing is a toilet, and the bathroom shower and toilet are just one giant room like some kind of prison inmate cleansing station.

Hopefully whatever is shutting down the roads will ease up soon and I can get back on the road tomorrow. I have about 300 miles to where I need to be, and don’t need to be there until 7pm tomorrow. I was planning to make it to SLC today and get to a new mountain tomorrow. Looks like those plans are out the window like a bag of trucker’s doodie in a windstorm.

While I was waiting around in Wyoming I decided to give back to this beautiful state. Here’s proof.

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