Saturday, January 02, 2010

Driving West


It was either the fact that it was New Year’s Day, the fact that I was not really looking forward to leaving my parents, or the fact that it was 16.7° degrees below zero, (-27.0556c) that made me stay with Dad and Flo lingering over a third cup of coffee before taking off.

The three of us sat around the table, looking out at the frozen woods around the house and chatting about how nice it had been that I could come and visit and how wonderfully Dad was looking; having had made great gains in his ambulatory and gastronomic recovery.

But despite the cold and the recent snows, I had to get back to Denver for work and early in the New Year. So, about nine am I headed out, bundled Saga into her kennel in the back seat, and we headed out on the road.

The roads through Minnesota were not too bad. Despite the cold, the state highway was clear except for a few places where the road went between wooded stretches. In flat open areas between fields, there was a bit of blowing snow, but it was not too bad.

But the iciness of the stretches between in the areas of the road that were shaded made me decide that my brother was probably right not to take highway twenty-seven around Lake Traverse all the way into Browns Valley. So I cut over on County Highway 117 between Lake Traverse and Mud Lake. The county highways were, as I had expected much worse than the state highway, but unlike the state highway, the county highways tend to be uninterrupted straight lines in that part of the state.

The road was icy more often than the state highway had been, but it was a shorted route to the interstate and so between that and the road tending to be straight, it was not too bad a delay. In fact, although it was not a record, by any stretch of the imagination, I didn’t do badly, making it door-to-door in just over 13-hours.

The Interstate was generally in good shape, but just as I was heading south out of South Dakota and into Iowa the cross-wind on the interstate made caused the snow piled on either side off the road to drift across it… much of the time making the road’s surface all but invisible. My speed through this area was kept in check for about an hour.

But this was offset by the fact that I stopped so few times. The temperatures dropped throughout the day. The temperature on a sign I saw in Sioux Falls was -20! I have no idea how cold it was when I made my first stop (for gas in Iowa) but I believe that it is unassailable logic to say it was “cold as $#%*”!!!!!

Saga didn’t want to get out of the car when I pulled over to stretch my legs at the Iowa welcome station. I coaxed her out of the kennel and urged her to use the “pet exercise” area. She got right to it… and then bolted back to the car.

It was clear as I entered Nebraska that the blizzard had been far more intense here than it had been back in Minnesota. The snow bluffs over the interstate were above the car in places…

By the time I was to the Lincoln exit it was already noticeably warmer. Saga and I got out and walked at a rest stop near Grand Island and she was much more willing to hop out of the car and get some exercise.

After sunset, there were a few flurries to contend with in Southern Nebraska and Northeastern Colorado. When I got out of the car in Ft. Morgan, the temperatures were almost balmy.

We pulled into Denver around nine and were home about a quarter after. Total transit time 13:15:05, stopped time 00:35:23; the average moving speed 75.23mph. That’s pretty respectable based on how bad the roads were in places.

I had best get this posted and get to unpacking the car and getting things put away. I have a lot to do today and the weekend is moving right along.

Wherever you are today, I hope you are home, safe and sound!

Don Bergquist – January 02, 2010 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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