We woke up this morning in Denver to a light snow, not nearly as bad as we feared. This is a view from our motel room around 7 am.
What we didn't know was the light dusting of snow covered quite a thick layer of ice. Older Daughter's car was fairly shellacked. To make things more fun, it was about 19F and Older Daughter couldn't find the windshield scraper. (She wanted to assure readers she has one; but it's literally buried in her truck under all her personal effects.) What followed was a comical attempt to un-shellack the vehicle, using a boot to scrape the snow and then assorted cards to scrape the ice. (My Costco card may never be the same.)
But we finally got everything free and the car warmed up. Then we hit the road and hit Starbucks, not necessarily in that order.
Heading out of Denver, we saw a weird sight from a distance which turned out to be a practice golf range with such an extraordinarily tall net (to confine flying golf balls) that I wondered how often birds collided with it.
The clouds started burning off and it turned into as nice a day for travel as we could hope for.
Out of Denver, we took Hwy. 25 north, then connected to Hwy. 287 until we hit Hwy. 80 west.
Hwy. 287 took us through what seemed to be a forgotten corner of Colorado, full of tilted escarpments and dramatic rock formations.
In many places, snow clung to rock surfaces.
Road cuttings had what looked like a thick layer of iron-rich clay.
See that red conical peak in the center left distance?
Here's what it looked like closer up.
Older Daughter and I decided it was a good thing Don wasn't driving during this leg of the trip, since the leading cause of death among geologists is driving off the road while look at rock formations. (Don used to be an engineering geologist.)
Out in the middle of nowhere we passed this pretty little white church.
Later we passed this ginormous lodge-like house, all by itself in the middle of nowhere.
As we approached Laramie, we saw this huge factory that looked eerily similar to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, complete with no identification on the outside.
The trek through southern Wyoming along Hwy. 80 was interesting since I've never been to this part of the country. It's clear this place sees a lot of snow. There were signs warning the entire highway can be shut down in adverse conditions, and everywhere we looked we saw snow fences.
And vista after vista -- again and again and again -- showed impossibly long ribbons of highway stretching before us.
There were vast -- absolutely enormous -- areas with no settlements or other human interference. It was a truly humbling reminder of how big America is.
Oddly, we passed the occasional smoking facility, both close to the road as well as very distant, and we have no idea what they were. Anyone know?
We also passed, at wide intervals, dozens of what looked like smaller concrete structures, by themselves out in the desert. Again, we were clueless what they might be.
Twice, we breached the Continental Divide -- once at 7000 feet, the other around 6980 or so. As we moved further west, the rock formations became more dramatic.
And once, it was simply easier to tunnel through the rock than to build the highway around it.
I've seldom seen so much geology on open display.
Several hours along Hwy 80, cross-eyed with monotony, we started passing dozens of billboards extolling the amenities of something called Little America.
When we finally arrived, in desperate need of de-cramping our muscles, it turned out to be a rest stop on steroids, providing everything long-haul drivers needed. It more than fulfilled its promise of squeaky-clean bathroom facilities, inexpensive ice cream cones, reasonably priced lodging, and a playground for kids. This Sinclair dinosaur brought me back to my childhood. I remember clambering all over one at a gas station.
Gradually it dawned on us we had been going downhill to a greater or lesser extent ever since hitting the Continental Divide several hours before. For the entire rest of our trip into Salt Lake City, we headed downhill.
As darkness fell and we approached Salt Lake City, the downhill slopes became even steeper. It was hard to see much of the scenery, but we were going around bends and curves, apparently through an extremely long (as in, miles and miles) canyon.
We were never so glad to see the lights of Salt Lake City, our home for the night.
I think, with luck, we should be home by Wednesday.