Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Continental Divide

The Summit

We awoke Thursday morning to a cloudless, windless sky, and the solar panels were already pouring power back into the house batteries....they only got down to 90% overnight so I turned on the inverter and made coffee without the sound of the generator in the background.  Our plan was to depart Sierra Trading post around 9am for Rock Springs, WY (277 miles away), but at 8:30 we were ready to roll.  It hadn't gotten that cold the night before so I thought by now I could turn over the DD (Detroit Diesel) and fire her up, but she is a cold blooded lady and requested a little more heat.  So, I had to turn on the generator to run the block heater for about 40 minutes to bring her temperature up to a level where she would respond.  About 9:15 I turned her over again and she responded with that lovely 2 stroke rumble, and we were merging on to I-80 within just a few minutes.  What I didn't know was that this day would see us go from 6,300' in Cheyenne to over 8,640', the highest point on I-80, in just under 40 miles.  I soon had to gear down to 4th gear to keep the RPM's up high enough to keep the engine cool.  Added to that grinding climb was the appearance of a head wind with gusts up to 35mph.  We reached The Summit (a rest stop at the 8, 640' level) around 11am, and pulled off to let the DD cool down, and to take in the view.

This would be our pattern the rest of the day.......long descents, and long climbs with continual headwinds as we crawled toward the Continental Divide.  We stopped several more times to take a break from the buffetting of the winds.  To add fuel to the fire we went through several constructions zones, the final one being over 9 miles long when the wind was at it's worst, and the single lane was at its narrowest.  I knew from signage along the way that there was a rest stop just past the last construction zone where I could take a break.  Imagine my disappointment when we saw a "CLOSED" sign at the entrance to that rest stop!  Fortunately Wyoming also provides numerous "PARKING LOTS" for truckers along I-80 and one came up just 2 miles further, so we pulled in and I took a 30 minute break while the coach continued to rock and roll in the wind.  

That last 40 miles into Rock Springs about broke my spirit as the winds intensified.  At last we exited I-80 at the Dewar exit to our resting place for the night....another Walmart Supercenter! I quickly found a great spot to park, which gave us  view of the valley to the west, and turned off the DD for the night.  It was around 5pm, and we had been on the road for almost 8 hours!  That 277 miles felt more like 577 miles.  We spent a quiet evening which included a nice Skype with my oldest daughter who is always a joy to talk with, and some reading.

My dreams that night were filled with wind and steep grades....I wonder why?

Friday morning we were greeted with a clear sky again, but the wind of the night before had disappeared.  After a quick breakfast we were on the road by 8:30am (had to warm up the DD again with the block heater).  Friday was the complete opposite of Thursday.....not a breath of wind the entire day, and mostly down grades.  Our mileage into the Great Salt Lake basin was around 188, and it felt more like 100.  Friday completely erased the bitter taste I had in my mouth from the Thursday adventure!

 A rest stop with a view....40 miles from the Utah borde

Our first stop of the day was at the 60 mile mark (see above) and we were treated to a great view of the Wasatch Mountains in the distance.

Our next stop was in Evanston (about 2 miles from the Utah border) to stop at a discount liquor warehouse to stock up on wine.  All alcohol is sold through State liquor stores in Utah, and it is not a bargain!

Within a few minutes of leaving Evanston, WY we crossed into Utah, and within about 20 miles came to the Utah Welcome Center.  This is a very nice, fully staffed facility with amazing views in both directions.  We spent about an hour eating lunch, and walking around.

Yeah, that's right...I'm smilin'....I deserved an easy day!

Welcome center just inside the Utah border on I-80

We were back on the road around 12:45pm, and continued our descent into the Great Salt Lake Basin.....we had one last climb up to 7,000' right near Park City, UT (a local ski area) and then plunged along 6% grades down to 4,500 feet and my brother's home.  He was just getting home from work as we pulled into his neighborhood, and was able to assist us in getting parked.....we dropped the trailer for the first time in a month!

As it happened their son, Arthur, was participating in the National Clogging championships about 35 miles up the road, so we got changed, and rode in my brother's truck up the competition site where we spent the afternoon watching 100's of  "Cloggers" compete in the various categories for gold.  Arthur placed 1st in the preliminaries of his class, which is "freestyle", and we were able to see him in a "dance off". He will find out sometime today if he advances to the next round.

My nephew, Arthur, the 3rd going from left to right

We returned home around 7pm, and had a lovely dinner with my brother, his wife, and their kids.  We enjoyed some Pinot Noir along with Pizza (haha) and a great salad.  But the best part was the conversation.  My brother and I agree that our wives can talk anyone under the insult intended....we both managed to squeeze a few words in "edgewise" over the course of the!

Well, that was the last two days of our odysseyj....we will be here for about 5 days before heading north into Idaho and new adventures....thanks for stopping by!!

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