Why oh why? Y-O-ming

I woke up at three and again at 5:30. When I went downstairs to enjoy the breakfast the kitchen was all dark. The guys at the front desk told me I had missed the Daylight Savings Time time change. No, I hadn’t. Okay then, how about the fact that I was in a new time zone. Oh! so it was really only 5 o’clock — still another hour until the breakfast bar opened. I took a cup of coffee up to my room and waited it out. Not that it was worth it!

I was going to take the ‘short cut’ by going through Lead and down through the Black Hills National Park, but after a couple of miles along that slippery foggy uphill road I gave up, turned around, and headed back up to the I-90 freeway through Spearfish. Good call. No issues on that road. At least no issues as far as road conditions.

I followed the I-90 into northeast Wyoming and down to Casper, where I once again took a two-lane road south to the next east-west freeway, the I-80. And once again, I had gas gauge drama. As I was driving my Garmin advised me that I would NOT make it to Rawlins, where there were many gas stations — but I would JUST make it to Muddy Gap, about 30 miles short of Rawlins, where there was ONE gas station. About 10 miles before reaching Muddy Gap the traffic in my lane came to a standstill. An LED road sign announced that both lanes up ahead were closed due to a major accident. We were stopped for only a few minutes before traffic began to move ahead, slowly. A pilot car was leading us along the left lane. Unfortunately for me, I could NOT continue in that procession as it past the accident scene — I was almost out of gas and had to turn off at the only gas station, just across from the intersection where a big Freightliner semi truck had demolished another vehicle. I filled in twenty bucks while the long procession of cars continued on past the plugged intersection. By the time I’d paid for my fuel the officials (and there were many of them) who were measuring and documenting the accident scene had once again stopped all traffic. I had to sit on the gas station driveway with about 10 other cars and wait until the next opportunity.

Accident scene at Muddy Gap, WY

For the next hour and a half no traffic moved. I had a ‘front-row’ scene from the gas station parking lot, but it wasn’t until I saw officials sweeping up debris and heading for their various vehicles and I decided to make a run for it around the taped off scene, that I saw the completely obliterated pieces of a white vehicle that had been crushed by the semi. Horrible. As I headed down the highway, passing MILES of stopped traffic in the opposing lane, I couldn’t help singing Bruce Cockburn’s “Tokyo” song: “Did you have to show me that accident scene / Didn’t I get enough shaking up?”

I pulled into another service station at Rawlins and filled up the tank and bought a burger for the road. I still had three-and-a-half hours of driving to reach the hotel I had booked in Evanston, Wyoming. At least the road was good, driving conditions were great. After two long days on the road, I was feeling great. It felt good to be driving — I should have been a truck driver. All day it was me and mostly truckers sharing these great American highways. And all day today I was ‘home on the range’ in Wyoming, where the deer were mostly lying dead along the side of the road, and the antelopes (pronghorns, actually) were hanging out in clusters in the open fields, their distinct white rumps making them easy to spot as I squinted into the setting sun.

I wanted to check in early today — it is the day of the mid-term elections in the US. I got to my hotel at around 6pm. The van was filthy. I filled it up and looked around for a car wash. Nope. I checked in and checked out the hotel TV. Hmmm.. lots of Fox News, and only static on the local CBS station. I guess I won’t be watching Colbert who’s supposed to be ‘broadcasting live’ the election results tonight.

I went for a fine supper at the steakhouse across the road from the Quality Inn. Then back to my room. I was now in Mountain Time Zone, so the eastern polls were already reporting results and Fox News (all that was on in the restaurant too!) was predicting results. Not a big surprise. It was interesting that Fox was declaring a ‘bigly’ win for the Republicans even though they lost control of the house. I probably wouldn’t have been able to stay awake to watch Colbert anyway — after two early morning starts and long days of driving I think I was asleep the minute my head hit the pillow.