Utah -> Wyoming -> South Dakota = 900 miles today!

When I woke up this morning and looked out my window — things looked a whole lot better than they did last night. Snow was melting. Snow ploughs and sanding trucks were out. I went down for a quick breakfast. At 7:40 I was packed and loaded up and ready to hit the road. It was snowing pretty good. I packed up my stuff and went downstairs for the free “breakfast”. I made some mini-waffles, smeared them full of peanut butter and smothered them with syrup and washed that down with a coffee. 

The temperature stayed between one below and one above for most of today. For the first hour or so out of Cedar City small snowflakes were peppering the van and I kept an eye on the outside temperature, wondering if that wet snow and rain would freeze and make the road slippery. But the roads just got better. I was planning on driving up to Idaho and then taking the interstate east from there all the way to Fargo. But as I got closer to Provo the sun came out. Wow! What a difference that makes on one’s outlook! In fact the weather was so much better than what I had expected, I wondered if it wouldn’t be just as good to drive home via the route I had originally planned to take. Surely by now the icy roads that Jim and Bonny had yesterday afternoon on their way through the Rockies would have melted. So I made an executive decision. Just when the sun was looking away for a minute, I deeked left, then turned right, and off I was before anyone even took notice. It turned out to be the right decision.

I was a bit more mindful of the fuel gauge today. I stopped for gas and a burger in Evanston. I hadn’t downloaded an offline google map for this area because I wasn’t planning on taking this route, so I updated the new itinerary while I munched on my McChicken sandwich. 

The road was flat and the sun was shining for most of the afternoon. Cruise control set for 84mph and I only had to slow down when two big semis decided to pass each other and blocked the passing lane. I had my old iPod going full-time, and by the time I stopped for the night I was a little hoarse from singing loudly all day!

In Rawlins I turned north, off the Interstate 80, and headed up to Casper, Wyoming. It was 4:30 and the sun was setting. I would be driving in the dark for a few hours today. As the light was dimming, I noticed a lot of deer on the sides of the road. It’s that time of the day — better be watchful in case they decide to jump into my path. It was in Rawlins where, as I drove through the downtown, I saw a big buck slowly walking across the road and onto the busy parking lot of a ‘Dollar General’ store! (I wondered what you could get for a buck at a ‘dollar’ store!)

I got on the I-25 and continued north for a couple of hours. It was raining full time now. My headlights were dirty and not very bright. I was happy to tag on with a car ahead so I could watch the taillights and anticipate the turns ahead. There wasn’t a lot of traffic so we both made good time until we got to Gillette, where the road meets the I-90. I needed to send a text home to let Alex know where I was, etc. So I pulled in at another McDonald’s for some free wifi. Connected with home. All good.

I hadn’t made any reservations for a hotel because I wasn’t sure where I was going to end up. I thought I would try for Spearfish, South Dakota. But when I looked at the map again I saw that Spearfish was a bit of a detour from my ideal route homewards. And there had been a number of flashing signs on the road, warning that the coming snowfall would make things slippery starting at 11pm and lasting until 3pm Sunday. I decided that the farther I got today when the roads were wet but not slippery, the better off I’d be tomorrow.

I turned north off the I-90 before it reached Spearfish and drove up to Belle Fourche. I checked in at the first hotel I spotted. I parked the van. It was getting colder and the rain was not letting up. Yes, they had room. Yes, they would give me a room upstairs that was “pet-free”. I was happy and tired. I was going to write my journal entry, but by the time I looked at all my “windshield” photos from today’s drive, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I would write my journal in the morning.