Just back from my first RoadTrip of 2013, feeling refreshed and encouraged by the beauty and solitude six days in a winter wonderland can bring! This was my ninth consecutive winter RoadTrip and as it turns out, a rare treat & fantastic way to start the new year. As always my RoadTrip adventures included my dearest friend and co-pastor Brian Hardin, and a drive into the mountains.
This year we picked the western gateway city of Salt Lake City, Utah to fly into. Landing via Southwest flight connections in Vegas, we hit the tarmac on a Friday afternoon in the middle of a snow storm named “Gandolf“. (The Weather Channel)
We picked up our AWD Chevy Equinox SUV and hit the highway heading North without a care in the world. As veterans of many snowy roads and hazardous weather events, we were not intimidated by a little snow or cold.
We were happy to be freed from the bonds of our regular rigorous work loads and excited to see where we would end up on this years trip. We had both felt we needed to try & go back to re-visit our previous efforts in 2012, so we determined to drive back to Idaho and the Rockies of Canada. It would mean going back to a dark land of dense fog, random snow storms and what seemed an isolated, lost and even un-seeable beauty so familiar and frustrating to us last year.
We had high hopes to revisit those same roads, places and spaces this year, but this time we were hopeful to find what had been hidden before. To re-visit those regions, only with clearer winter weather and blue skies.
About an hour into our drive north, the beginnings of heavy snow squalls and road drift started to show. The ground had a good six to eight inches on the roadsides already, but the plows and road crews had kept it under control and we sped on, undeterred. We rode along… talking through our plans for exploration in the next few days and hardly noticed as the sun started to set with its winter shades of grey, dimming to dark shadows as the light vanished over the westward snowy horizon.
The high desert winds picked up as the grey grew into black and the temperatures dropped into the single digits as the snow started to really come down. By 4:45pm we were in a pitch black – whiteout blizzard, crawling along on I-84 Northbound to Idaho. Single lane travel was limited to 10-15mph; a struggle to even keep the tail lights of a caravan of semi-trucks visible from a few car lengths away.
The wind and cold and snow were seriously beginning to shut this major road down and with more and more vehicles half hidden in the ditches, we could see the roads were not going to stay open much longer. By 5:00 pm it was officially “dicey“, but this particular stretch of lonely interstate (I-84) was devoid of exits, towns or pull-offs of any kind, we had no choice but to move forward.
This was some of the nastiest roadway we have ever covered with four maybe five inches of driving snow building up in only a couple of hours and it was quickly drifting over the only lane open ahead. We lost sight of the cars in front of us and the one’s behind had either stopped or had been swallowed whole by the white and grey world around us.
I remembered the trip last year (2012) and how it was so frequented by snow storms, sleet -fog and dark blizzards much like this one. It seemed that this year was starting back up for us Exactly like it had wound down the year before.
Stormy, tense and with zero visibility.
Tomorrow, Day 2 in Idaho and taking time to revisit an old road for the “first” time.