Friday, January 2, 2009

Cheyenne to Rawlins

People often ask us where our favorite part of the country is.  That is hard to answer - I have my choices narrowed down to 4 or 5 spots!  All of them interesting and lovely and possible places to spend more time.

No one ever asks what the suckiest part of the US is.  
That one is easy: I-80 through Wyoming.  Now, don't get all twitchy if you live in or love Wyoming.  It is a nice enough state.  I happen to think it looks a lot like a colder, lonelier West Texas, but that is just my own little bitty no-count opinion.  No, the real problem with Wyoming is crossing it on I-80.  And even more specifically, the little bit between Cheyenne and Rawlins.  

There, I've said it.

We often get stuck in Cheyenne waiting for the winds to die down enough to scurry across.  If we are heavy (25-40k of freight), we can go if the sustained winds come down to around 25-30mph with gusts up to 55 or so.  If we aren't very heavy (10k of freight or so), we try to wait for the winds to get down to around 20 mph with gusts around 30.  Once, we sat for 2 days in Cheyenne waiting to do that 2 hour bit of driving.

Really, that's all it takes . . . just 2 hours or so. 
But they can be the 2 hours that cost us our jobs if we are foolhardy.  

We had come in from Memphis the morning before to howling gusts and decided to stop and assess things.  Since it was New Year's Eve as well, we decided to hunker down and see what the morning brought.
That night as we were tucked in with all the other trucks in the Flying J lot, our truck shook and wobbled so much I wondered if it would stay upright.  Really.  I could picture the domino effect as one of the outer trucks slowly tipped over onto the truck beside it and the slow crash as it hit the one beside and on and on and on until they got to our snug little truck.  That nasty oldstyle Freightliner with it's tarp covered load sitting just beside us suddenly became the menacing enemy.  Not to mention the tanker that sat on the other side.  Which way would the blow come from?  Luckily, sleep took hold and I didn't have to lay awake too long!

When we got up New Year's morning, we found that we had a small window of calm before the next storm system came though.  Well, calm is a relative term here.  Sustained winds of 25 - 30 mph with gusts 55+.  It was REALLY WINDY!!!  We made the first part of the run heading West out of Cheyenne toward Laramie.  There was some shaking and wiggling of the truck, but Tony was able to keep us mostly in our lane.  We did opt for driving in the left lane so that we had some extra pavement to our right (where the wind wanted to blow us!).  Whizzed through Laramie and decided to push on to Rawlins.  Once we ran that stretch, the winds typically die down considerably (gusts below 30 mph) and we should be on our merry way.  

Off we go.  

It was in this stretch that we came upon the blown over truck.  2 trucks had already stopped to assumedly help, so we pushed on.  We were able to see that it wasn't a Con-Way/CFI trailer, but still felt bad for the driver anyway.  The headlights were still on and the wheels still spinning - could have been us!?!?!  No way to know what kind of load he/she was trying to come through with - weight is the real factor here.

After we made it to Laramie and took on fuel and food, Tony and I were able to talk about the run and each admit what had been going though our minds on the way through.  I had decided that I should get out of my jammies and have shoes on as well.  I also put on a vest and had my cell phone in my pocket.  Holding Leo in my lap felt like that would be his best shot if we went over.  Tony admitted to having many of the same plans and thoughts.  Sure, we could laugh about it then - no one lost an eye or anything!

So, that's the suckiest part of the US for us.  We have to run it often.  We see blown over trucks on that stretch.  Often.  As we sit in Portland, Oregon waiting on a load, there is a 50/50 that we will turn around and head back in that direction.  Yipeeeeee.  The good news is that the dangerous wind isn't so bad if you are running East.  At least, I think so.  Hmmmm - I don't remember that it has ever been a problem for us going East, has it?  Something new to worry about . . . . . . . . .   


maewestern said...

Wow, that sounds really really scary! I'm looking forward to finding out how the return trip goes ... and I sure hope it's calmer and safer. Take care, my friend.

Mary said...

Wow, that story kinda scares me. Hopefully my finisher will be able to answer some of those questions, such as...when do you pull over and when do you commit to taking the

Fandango Travelers said...

I'd love to tell you that there is a magic formula for "when to go and when to stay", but we haven't found it. If you get one, please, please share!!!!