Wyoming Deja Vu

When I got up Friday morning and checked the radar, I could see that I'd most likely intercept some serious winter weather about the time I got to Rawlins, Wyoming.  That struck me as extremely ironic, seeing as how the last time I came through Rawlins, Nate and I were forced to spend two nights stranded along that same exact stretch because the interstate had been closed.  Evidently, it doesn't matter if you come through in January or May, be prepared to get snowed in when you go to Rawlins!

I prepared myself to encounter the storm in Rawlins, but my calculations were less than perfect and the weather actually hit me in the worst possible place - right in the middle of the mountain pass between Laramie and Rawlins.  Ice and snow came down in a thick blanket, reducing visibility to nil.  It's April 30 and I find myself cowering behind a Walmart truck so I can skid along in the icy ruts he's left behind, creeping along at 35 mph.  Snow plows!  Massive 18 wheeler jackknife accident!  Winter wonderland!  Oy vey.  Nerve-wracking, but very beautiful.

To my relief, when I got to Rawlins I found that I'd outrun the worst of the weather for the time being.  My destination for the day was Logan, Utah, and I was eager to get as much distance between me and the weather as possible before I drove over the mountain pass at Bear Lake.  As I neared Utah, I began looking for a place I might take an afternoon walk and decided to stop at a little park called Fossil Butte just this side of the Utah border.  I struggled before getting out of the car - the temperature was hovering around 37 and the wind was blowing steadily, insistently, swirling random snow flakes past the corner of your eye from time to time.  Could I work up enough of a sweat to make 37 feel brisk but not freezing?

The walk sounded perfect: up a mesa, across the ridge, and then down - just a little over an hour and a half along a well maintained loop trail.  What I conveniently forgot was that meant I'd be walking up a pretty steep hill for about a 1/2 hour to start, but it actually felt good to push myself that hard when it came right down to it.  The vegetation and scenery weren't all that spectacular, but what did end up being absolutely electrifying was the sound the wind as it rushed past the sage bushes.  I found a bench high up on the side of the mesa where I could see at least 30 miles in every direction and just sat and listened to the wind rush past my ears.  I let myself be completely present to the feel, smell, taste and sound of the moving air for quite a few moments.  I was the only living person that I could see anywhere and it was awesome.

Well, all that solitude was fine and good until I started to spook myself coming down the hill by imaging that the tracks I saw all along the trail were those of a big cranky bear.  How could those tracks belong to a dog?  They were almost as big as my hand, for crying out loud!  I wished for a can of Aqua Net and a lighter to make me feel better. 
I made it back to the car unmolested, and as I left Fossil Butte to start the last leg of the journey toward Logan, the snow began to fall in big heavy flakes.  I'd be passing the beautiful jewel toned Bear Lake, and then heading into the mountains that form a long lovely canyon of about 30 miles between the lake and Logan.  I'd been down this particular stretch several times before and so knew to expect a rest area high above the lake that offered one last dramatic view of the wind whipped lake before entering the mountains.  When I pulled into the rest area to take a look at the lake, it was snowing so hard I couldn't even see past the edge of the parking lot!  I went inside to watch the swirling flakes from the warm safety of the tourist information center and decided to bust out the first of the magnets I'd brought with me and leave it in the ladies room on the hand dryer.  I made five tiny collages before I started on my trip and then transformed them into magnets so I could leave them in random places that inspired me along the way  On the back of each, I've inscribed a note encouraging whoever finds them to take them and do whatever they want to with them and then maybe send me an e-mail and tell me the story if they feel so inclined.  We'll see if any of my random leavings generate a story - I'd really like that.

The drive through the canyon was deeply satisfying with the snow coming down in swirling curtains and icing all the trees and foliage with lacy caps of white.  The bright white made a perfect backdrop for the vibrant reds and oranges of the plentiful dogwood bushes that grow along the length of the river.

When I arrived in Logan, I drove out to meet Bruce at the house we'd be working on together over the next week.  We finished up a few things and then met his girlfriend Elin at a downtown eatery for some late dinner.  When we emerged, we found that the slushy rain hadn't let up.  When I got to Pat and Judy's house where I'd be staying for the next week or so, I gratefully burrowed down into the covers of the bed and dove into the darkness of a deep night's sleep, safe at last from the persistent ice.

No comments: