Friday, May 02, 2008

A Blizzard in May

So last night, the winds were all whooping it up, and there was a forecast for snow in Wyoming coming down into Colorado. I decided, therefore, to alter our route from taking I-25 to Cheyenne to pick up I-80 to instead taking I-76 and connecting up with I-80 farther east in Nebraska.

Ahh, the best laid plans. We stopped at a rest stop in Sterling, CO so the kids could pee, and they told us that I-76 was just closed, and I-80 was closed all the way across Wyoming and to Ogallala, Nebraska because of a blizzard.

Come on, guys, it's f-ing May! It's not supposed to blizzard in May.

They had an info counter there with a couple guys with maps who were trying to give alternate routes to folks. Mostly, they were sending them south to pick up I-70, but that's quite a trek and well out of the way for Iowa, which is where we were headed.

I axed how to get to get around the section of highway that was closed, and he said, "well, you can take the old highway that we used to take before they built the interstate."

Glorious! I've seen Cars like a billion times. The joy of the old highways. The charm. Maybe I'll find Radiator Springs,

Bzzzt. Wrong. US-6 runs through cornfields and ranch land and the only "towns" on it in this section were really nothing more than paved intersections where there happened to be grain silos.

He showed me this route. It worked fine, but the GPS was very unhappy with it and kept telling me to turn around.

The GPS may have more sens than I do.

The little diagonal shot of 176/23 from Holyoke to Grant was particularly harrowing. We hit one complete whiteout where I couldn't see 4 feet, so I inched over onto the shoulder and stopped for a minute. Then an SUV came by with a big rig right on his tail. The SUV slowed when he saw my taillights, I guess, and the big rig ended up locking it up with the tractor passing the SUV on the wrong side of the road, but the ass end of the trailer still on the right side of the road behind the SUV. I was positive they were gonna wreck, but they disappeared into the blizzard. I decided that, since I could now see a good 25 yards, I better get back moving or we'll all be killing on the shoulder of the road.

We mucked along for maybe three hours on this little detour. Sometimes is was clear, most times it was blizzarding. I got to learn that the minivan's stability control was a damn fine thing to have, as I was headed for the ditch twice and then the van just started doing a remarkably perfect power slide (which is very hard to do given the front-wheel-drive nature of the vehicle) with the back end maybe 15 degrees to the left of the front, but very true and controllable as we slowed and straightened.

Damn that's nice. I'm glad The Mrs. insisted we get the van with the traction control. Her tires are without a doubt much much worse than mine in the snow. I have M+S A/T truck tires, though.

We passed a few cars in the ditch on the stretch of 61 between Grant and Ogallala. This road was mostly quite bare, but every now and then it had 6" of snow drifted across it. There was a cross wide gusting up around 60mph, and if you were moving too fast when you hit the snow, there was quite a tendency to slide sideways. This is actually what happened to me both time I almost left the road, but by the time I got to 61, I had been driving through the blizzard for almost two hours and had the routine down. The minute you see snow on the road, hit the flashers and slow to 25mph.

So what was supposed to be a leisurely 675 miles turned into a rather harrowing experience for 3 of those hours. About another 6 hours we had to deal with the high winds and rain, and then it got pretty nice. We got to the hotel about 12 hours after we left home, which was an hour off pace (I planned for trouble of some sort - mainly I planned for barfing).

The Mrs. and The Childrens are swimming in the hotel pool here is beautiful Grimes, Iowa (a suburb of Des Moines). I'm staying with FreddyC so he doesn't tear up the room with everyone gone.

Tomorrow, on to my brother's place in Richfield, WI. I hope there isn't much weather.


ellie said...

That is very hairy! I recall when we all did the roadtrip to the Brother's and Gordy's that it was also snowing and crappy, and that was like April. It's supposed to be mild out here all week.

Manly Lesbian said...

Supposed to rain and thunderstorm in Wisconsin (and in Barfalo)

blogauthor said...

Oooosh, that sounds like no fun! Hope the rest of trip went more smoothly than this part.

RIO said...

Yikes, Cherks. O.o Blizzarding is totally scare-a-rating. I would have been axing Jesus to beam me outta there.

Glad y'all were safely through.

Manly Lesbian said...

They all arrived safely. I put CherkyB and the Mrs. to work today, doing a lot of chores that I am unable to do because of my back. I can't believe how much they got done- it would have taken me 2 weeks or never to do what they did in about 3-4 hours. Thanks for the help! Then we all went out for dinner - Cherky and the Mrs, the two childrens' Cherky B's parents, sister and her boyfriend and myself. Outback and bloomin onion. Thanks for dinner.