First of All –
- First call for help!
- First mega traffic jam (fortunately for us, in the west bound lane)
- First wild turkeys and antelope
- Brigham City
- Fort Bridger
- Little America
- Flaming Gorge
- Miles Cruised today: 416
- Total Miles Cruised to date: 916
- Hours Underway: 7.5
- Fuel: x gallons 19
- Morning House Battery Reading: NA
- Wind Speed: 15 – 20mph ; Wind Direction: NW
- Daily High Temperature: 88
- Water Temperature: NA (KOA pool: 80)
We arise at 7am, an hour later than usual, but then, we’re now in a new time zone so we’re really being typical. As we prepare to assemble breakfast, we start discovering additional items inadvertantly left behind at home. The little pitcher of milk for breakfast cereal: still in the home refrigerator. A minor problem, since we have a spare pitcher and lots of powdered milk in the drinks provision tub. Next discovery is b bit more serious. It seems that Sandy’s new walking shoes, with her custom orthotics nestled inside, must still be in the hall closet, because they definitely aren’t in their custom shoe organizer pockets under the boat table. We don’t panic, though. I place a cell call to our house sitter, who confirms the whereabouts of the missing shoes, and arrange for her to send them via express mail delivery to our destination in Grand Haven MI. I suggest that Sandy keep a close eye on the skies above us in the next day or so, watching for a plane passing high overhead, and bearing her walking shoes.
The drive itself goes smoothly as we leave Oregon Trail country along the Snake River behind us, briefly drop down into the Salt Lake Valley, and then weave our way through a narrow canyon toward Wyoming. Just past the border we are required to pull into an inspection station, where Wyoming Fish and Game officials inspect our boat for unwanted quagga mussell hitchhikers. These little mussels are an invasive species, which have infested inland waters in many parts of the US. Some states, including Wyoming, take special care to keep the pesky mussels from spreading further. The inspector recognizes our boat as a MacGregor, and in fact, he owns a MacGregor classic himself. He knows all about water ballast, and asks us to both tilt our outboard motor down and open our water ballast valve. No water comes out, and we pass his inspection. He gives us a certificate and seals a small wire tag onto the front of our trailer, and then we’re off again.
A short ways east of Evanston WY we spot our first pronghorn antelope. It’s virtually impossible to drive across Wyoming without seeing many of these beautiful and unique antelope. I read somewhere that over 90 percent of the species population live here in Wyoming. They are a welcome sight and provide something interesting to look for in an otherwise often bleak plains landscape. We begin seeing ample evidence of Wyoming’s contribution to fossil fuel engergy as we drive east. Tall stacks with gas flaring off, miles long oil car trains, and facilities I assume are related to oil shale production can be seen from the interstate.
Somewhere east of Fort Bridger, fossil fuel proves to be of little use to the traffic headed west. We encounter a 12 mile long construction zone, and traffic in both directions is routed onto the two lanes on
the south half of the interstate. Ordinarily, this arrangement would work fine, simply a 2 lane highway. However, no shoulder is available for the west bound traffic, and just past the start of the construction zone, a large semi has broken down in the middle of the west bound travel lane. A Wyoming state patrol officer is on scene and carefully directing traffic, including countless large semi’s, to creep slowly around the stalled truck, via a rather soft and steep shoulder. Naturally, this arrangement brings traffic to a near standstill. In our unimpeded lane, we merrily clip along at 65 mph. Westbound vehicles are bumper to bumper, either creeping along or completely stopped, for 12 miles. Amazingly, we encountered a similar traffic backup the last time we drove this route, in March 2011, while on our way to the Bahamas. The culprit that time was a westbound traffic closure at the summit, due to snowy conditions. I’ll think twice before I dare drive this interstate in the westerly direction.
We’re now parked for the night at the Rock Springs KOA. It’s warm outside, and quite windy. The landscape is bleak, but we’re glad to be stopped for the night. Grilled sausages for dinner, a shower for Sandy and a quick swim in the pool for me, and we’re ready to call it a day.