Outside Ogden, Utah
Today was a short and uneventful day. I left Evanston, Wyoming about 8:30am–the temperature was 5 degrees and quickly dropped to 4 below as I entered Utah. Driving through the mountains was awe-inspiring–I kept wishing I could stop the car and take pictures! I was able to stop at a scenic overlook to get this picture, which unfortunately doesn’t convey the scale and majesty of the scene.
I spent most of the day in Idaho, where the forecast was for snow showers. The clouds would gather and I’d think, ‘OK, this is it. Snow ahead.’ But the snow never materialized. The temperature gradually rose to 28 degrees, with alternating sun and clouds. Approaching Boise on I-84, a sign announced that the road was closed at Ontario, Oregon, about 40 miles ahead, due to weather conditions. So I stopped for the night at Caldwell, Idaho, just north of Boise. I have about 575 miles to Bellingham, and two days to get there.
Kimball, NE – The Diner
I left Kimball, Nebraska early yesterday morning, stopping at the Diner for an excellent breakfast, overhearing truck drivers talk about how crazy the roads were the day before (as well I knew!).
Yesterday was a beautiful day–sunny and clear. Until I got to Cheyenne, WY about 8:30am. Periodically on I-80 there are signs that say: ‘I-80 – CLOSED if lights are flashing.’ As I reached Cheyenne, I passed a sign and the lights were flashing. Tuning into 5.30 AM, the Wyoming road conditions station, I heard, “I-80 West is closed due to winter conditions. Will re-open after noon on December 26.” Sigh.
I spent a few hours at the Wyoming Welcome Center in Cheyenne. They have a wonderful exhibit on the history and geology of Wyoming–if you are ever in the area you should check it out! The woman at the desk said that all the roads leading into the mountains were closed, and it was best to adopt a wait-and-see attitude. I did my best, and topped off the morning with an early lunch at Luxury Diner. At noon I-80 opened, so I plugged my destination into my phone and started off. I wondered why I was being directed to Rt. 210 instead of directly onto I-80, but then I remembered the line of trucks.Rte. 210 is a scenic road through Medicine Bow Forest (with the Curt Gowdy State Park on the way–who knew?), and there was very little traffic.
At Laramie I got onto I-80, which was still lined with trucks moving slowly. The wind was significant, but my car is low to the ground and loaded down with household stuff. No snow was falling, but the blowing snow caused brief whiteout conditions at times, and the road was snow-covered most of the way. The landscape was stark and barren–it was an eerie sight!
Rock Springs rest stop
It was not until Rock Springs, Wyoming that we started passing into populated areas again. Around 6:30pm Mountain time I reached Evanston, Wyoming, and stopped for the evening.
Ogallala, NE rest stop
… and I’m still in Nebraska–Kimball, to be exact. I left Kearney about 9am–it was foggy but not too bad, and I decided there wouldn’t be a better time to get on I-80. The first hour was foggy and then rainy, but definitely driveable. Then I saw a sliver of sun ahead, and it continued to get brighter and brighter. By the time I got to the Ogallala, NE rest stop, the sun was starting to shine–it was going to be a good day after all!
It was, for another hour or so. The landscape went from large cattle farms, to rolling fields of yellow grass with small tumbleweeds blowing onto the highway. The temperature rose to 46 degrees. But after I-76 broke off to the south, the clouds ahead grew dark and low, like a heavy blanket–it felt a little claustrophobic to be driving into them. The rain started again, and the temperature fell quickly to 32 degrees, when the rain turned to sleet and the wind picked up sharply. The temperature continued to fall, and so did my speed! I had hoped to get to Cheyenne, Wyoming today. I decided to stop when the trucks I was driving alongside started pulling over, just before the second Kimball exit. I putted my way off the interstate and into Kimball, and thankfully (oh, so thankfully) found a hotel. I’m ensconced there now, with snack foods (thank you, Jolee, Jayne, Tom and Kathy!) and an Internet connection.
Tomorrow is another day …
Today was a perfect day to travel. It was overcast most of the day but dry, and the Saturday traffic was light.
In the morning I stopped in West Branch, Iowa to visit the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, just off I-80. The Visitor’s Center exhibit summarizes the life of President Hoover succinctly and well, using artifacts, video and audio. Outside the Visitor’s Center, there is a path to several buildings associated with Herbert Hoover’s early days, including his 2-room birthplace cottage, next to his father’s blacksmith shop. I didn’t get a chance to visit the adjacent Presidential Library and Museum, or his grave site. But what I did see was impressive and charming. If you are in the area, I highly recommend it!
Herbert Hoover Birthplace Cottage
A few hours later, I had lunch among the wind turbines at Emma Jean’s in Walnut, Iowa. The catfish sandwich was just what I needed and the peach cobbler was great!
December 24, 2016
Merry Christmas, all!
After several days visiting with family and friends in Cincinnati and southern Indiana (it was great to see you all!), I took to the road again this afternoon, and am staying tonight at Galesburg, Illinois. The drive was completely uneventful, through beautiful farm country and occasional drizzle. This evening I’m checking the weather forecast and making travel plans accordingly, probably taking a more southerly route than originally intended.
The restaurant at the Best Western-Prairie Inn & Conference Center has an Indian restaurant, Haldi, that is excellent! I had the butter chicken (mild) and loved it.
No picture today, but here’s a map of the trip so far:
On to Iowa tomorrow!
… keeps me off the road for long! Yesterday I left Du Bois, Pennsylvania at noon to drive to my mom’s house in Cincinnati. The freezing rain had stopped not long before, and the temperature hovered just above freezing. The roads were well-treated and mostly dry through Pennsylvania and into northern Ohio. As I passed Youngstown and made my way to Akron, the fog set in–never enough to completely obscure the road, and there were areas that were quite beautiful with the fallen snow and fog above.
Rest stop south of Akron
It wasn’t until I got through Columbus and was headed down I-71 to Cincinnati that the rain started in earnest. The kind of rain that makes it hard to see the lines on the road (thank heaven for reflective line markers!) or the lights of the car ahead. The rain came in waves–it would almost stop at times, and then come down as hard as ever. This went on for the two hours it took to get to my mom’s house on the west side of Cincinnati, at 7:20pm.
Today Mom hosted a get-together with family–it was great to catch up with everyone, many of whom I hadn’t seen since the summer. I’ll be visiting family for the next several days, and then on Friday I’ll set off again on my cross country trip. Until then, have a great week!
Dec. 16: After shifting the weight in my car (the night before the car made some alarming squeaks), I set out from Cromwell, CT around 9am. It was actually a great day to drive–sunny and no ice or snow on the roads. I was weary, though, from the previous day’s moving, and decided to stop a little sooner than I had intended, at the Holiday Inn Express in Du Bois, PA. I found it using an app that Liz Mainella recommended, HotelTonight. It is fantastic–you enter your destination for the day, and the app gives you a list of hotels that have been recommended by other travelers, and the price for a room. You can then reserve the room (prepaid) through the app.
I got to Du Bois about 4:30pm, and after a minimal dinner settled down for the night. This morning Winter Storm Decima had arrived, and we have freezing rain here. But in a few hours it should warm up–I’ll be off and should get to my mother’s house before 8pm.
Have a good day, all! Pat
The view from the Holiday Inn Express, Du Bois, PA