Day 2 - February 5th, 2008
Starting point: Nebraska City, Nebraska
Finishing point: Layton, Utah
Starting time: 7 a.m.
Finishing time: 1 a.m.
Miles travelled: 921
As we crossed over the Medicine Bow Mountains, it levelled off slightly. It was from there that we got our first real glimpse of some big mountains. Pictured below are the Rocky Mountains as we first began to see them.
However nice the Rockies were to look at, we soon began to see and experience something new for our trip. Next to the interstate for miles and miles, were a series of tiny hills that didn't hardly amount to anything. But, apparently they are good for one thing - generating wind. Hills such as the one pictured below just let wind currents build and pass unobstructed over them. There wasn't any new snow falling, but what was already on the ground was subject to being blown continually in the direction of the interstate we were travelling on.
A seemingly innocuous-looking hill.
As we got nearer to them, you could see clouds of snow being continually stirred up. And then we felt them. The wind was strong, gusting to 40 or 50 miles per hour, and constantly kept the snow billowing across the interstate, obliterating the lanes and the edges.
Add in to the mix the heavy traffic around us and it was driving conditions I don't want to have to ever face again in my life. Just when we'd get to a section where we thought we were safely through it and the road was clear, it started again. It never let up for more than a few minutes. We saw more semi trucks turned around alongside the road, so the wind must have had even more affect on them. The snow seemed almost alive - snaking fingers that kept reaching across the road for something to grab hold of. Undulating and probing, I had to maintain a firm grip on the wheel so we wouldn't be blown off. The sun was setting, so it was beginning to get dark as well. But, somehow, we managed to make it through that section of bad weather and come out the other side.
The snow seemed to be a living, breathing entity.
About the only thing I can see that might have been good about the whole area was that it helped produce a lot of wind-generated electricity. I certainly didn't see any towns or dwellings along this stretch - who would want to live where the wind was constantly blowing like this?
Wind power generators.
We got past it and began climbing into mountains that would take us into Utah. Darkness fell and things settled down somewhat. Three miles from the border of Utah, we stopped at a town called Evanston to stretch our legs. Remember this town name, as it will make another appearance in a later act.
During the entire trip, we hadn't taken a single wrong turn. And this good luck kept up all the way into Layton, Utah, where my brother lived. But, just into the edge of Layton is all. For one thing, we never saw a single sign that said we were in Layton. We stopped at a gas station and the man there said it was just up the hill in front of us and down the other side and we would be there. It was most certainly not there. Fortunately, we had been in telephone contact with my brother Matthew, so he was expecting us. We called once again and he recognized where we were at and steered us the rest of the way. They had been hit with the worst snowfall in 14 years, so that was another thing we had to deal with, but we made it. There in front of us was his apartment complex and we just had to find a parking space and we could stop moving. He had ordered out for pizza and it was waiting on us when we got inside. We all talked for awhile and then crashed because we were just so tired from the trip and having not gotten much sleep. About 3 a.m. we crawled to bed for some rest. We had planned to make the next day after arriving there a day of rest. As it turned out, my brother hadn't been given much notice that he was going to be deployed to the other side of the planet and with everything he had to do just to get ready for his end, that left the personal side of his life undone. Things such as packing all his household belongings and renting a U-Haul truck to haul it to a storage facility. We basically had all of Wednesday to do it, but that's something that will be detailed in Day 3.