January 25th, 2004

i'm ready for my close up mr demille

ahhh, winter

Location: Tooele, Utah

I'm about 40 miles west of Salt Lake City. Yeah, I haven't gotten very far. Last night I left Winnemucca around 8pm and drove for about three hours when I hit this massive snowstorm. We're talking blinding, whiteout conditions. I was crawling along at about 15 miles per hour, knowing I was stilll on the road by keeping the little sticks with the reflectors on them on the sides of the road on either side of me. That is, when I could see them. Sometimes all I had to go by were the rumble strips on the shoulder to let me know I was drifting precariously. Luckily, I was only a few miles from Wells, NV which has a truckstop, so I got pulled in there for the night. It stopped snowing a few hours later, but I didn't want to risk getting back out until daylight.

So I got going again this morning about 8am and finished off Nevada and drove across the Salt Flats of western Utah. My plan had been to start driving in night shifts and sleeping during the day, hence me leaving so late last night. This can have its advantages, primarily, less traffic (not that there's a whole lot out here anyway), but also it's easier to find parking rolling into a truckstop at the beginning of the day rather than at the end of one. But now that has all gotten screwed up thanks to the snow.

In about another hour and a half I'll have Utah behind me and the badlands of Wyoming in front. I should make it to Laramie tonight and then tomorrow the boring haul across Nebraska to Omaha where I have to stop at our terminal for truck maintenance. One thing that's nice about driving across Wyoming and Nebraska, though - they have a wonderful public radio network. As you drive across I-80, when you leave the broadcasting range of one station, you turn the dial up/down .2 or .4 Mhz and voila, you're still tuned to your program on the next station in range. This is great when listening to long-ish programs like Prairie Home Companion or even the hour segments like This American Life. At 65 mph, you're lucky to have a radio station for as long as an hour.

Also in store is one of my favorite places to stop along I-80: Point of Rocks, Wyoming. It is classified as a ghost town by ghosttowns.com. It's only inhabitants are the postmaster and his family who run the store/post office/hotel/gas-diesel station at the Interstate exit. I always try and stop in there on my way through and buy a snack or something.

I should make Chicago by Tuesday and then on up to Paw Paw, Michigan for my first stop Wednesday morning. Then I have three days to get 16 stops off before heading home for the weekend to belatedly celebrate/mourn my birthday (Thursday).