Tuesday, September 4, 2012

West Coast Adventure - Day 21

I'm not really on the west coast anymore...am I? For that matter, I really spent most of this trip not on the west coast...oh, well, it was the destination. :)

I pulled out of Green River, Wyoming, at 8:00AM this morning. It was cold. Colder than what I probably should have been riding in. Even with my leather coat and a sweatshirt on, I was cold. I shook it off because I knew that every mile I rode east was another little bit warmer. Southwest Wyoming might get cold at night, but it can warm up pretty fast. I knew it was supposed to be 90ish by the time I got to Cheyenne, so I figured I had plenty of time to warm up later.

Two things I've noticed in the past couple days:
1.) They take snow fencing seriously out here. Back home they'll string up that orange plastic drift fence in the worst spots and call it good. If they're really feeling like working, they'll put up the wooden slat fences. Our here, they build wall sized fences to control the drift. Of course, these mammoth fences can get overwhelmed. There are devices in place to shut I-80 down at almost every town, if the snow gets too bad.
Snow fence, about 10 feet tall, I 'spect
 2.) When they decide to divert traffic from one side of the highway to the other, they just plop cones down the center line, at least that's what I ran into in two looooong stretches in Wyoming. When I first drove through it I thought, "wow, they're really putting a lot of faith in humanity to expect those cones to keep traffic in the correct lanes." However, the longer I drove in it, the more I saw how stupid it is that when they do this back home they takes days, sometimes weeks, constructing temporary concrete barriers down the middle of the roadway. Seriously, we drive on 2 lane highways and other streets, without any cones or barriers in the middle of the road, all the time! Why does the state of Michigan waste so much time and money putting those dumb concrete barriers up? I can't imagine they're any good for the pavement or concrete we're driving on and putting them in place is a slow and costly process. Out here they plop down 10 miles of cones in a day and call it good. The cones are mostly there just to remind you that you're driving against opposing traffic and you need to stay in your lane. It's simple, really.  Maybe that's the problem...it's simple...it makes too much sense...it's asking drivers to think for themselves instead of treating them like sheep. Baa-aaa-aaa-aaa!

I reached the continental divide, at some point. I jokingly thought to myself that it would all be downhill from there. Nope, at one point I remember an elevation sign that read almost 9,000 feet farther down the road.

It's all down hill from here!
It's really funny how the landscape really does kind of change very quickly out here. Especially right along the state lines. The terrain change from California to Nevada was a noticeable change. The change from Nevada to Utah was a noticeable change. The shift from Utah to Wyoming was also a noticeable change. About 25 miles east of Cheyenne, Wyoming, you can tell another change, and another state, is coming. You're booking down I-80 and a hill raises up and begins looming out in the distance in front of you. It almost looks like an earthen wave. As you approach it, you start wondering if it's going to be the last hill you'll ever see. You can't see anything beyond it, and the land leading up to it is relatively flat.  The road heads up little, then it heads down, and there you are, on the other side of the hill and in Nebraska. To be fair, it's not nearly as dramatic as the shift from in some of the other states. Nebraska certainly gets "flatter" than Wyoming, but it's not a pancake. There are plenty of rolling hills and even a few beautiful rocky outcroppings.

Lucky #13
Every since I got into Wyoming, I've been trying to figure out what to call the landscape. It's not prairie. It's not mountains. There are valleys and gorges, but it's not just those, either. Then, out of the blue, it hit me. "Home, home on the range. Where the deer and the antelope play..." It's the range. This is the range! This is where they grow my hamburgers! I finally felt like I had some context for what I was looking at...the antelope should have been a dead give away. No, I didn't take any pictures of the antelope. They seemed to stay away from the road and up on top of whatever hill they might be grazing on.

While traveling this highway hasn't always been enthralling, it does seem to be a great way to get from one side of the country to the other. I hate to admit it, but there were plenty of times today when I looked down at my speedometer, only to find I was cruising along at about 90 to 95. There's just very little landscape to help you keep your speed in check...and even less traffic. There were often times today when I could see a mile in front and a mile behind me and I wasn't fighting anyone for space on the road, if there was even anyone on the road with me. The strong wind blowing out of the west certainly didn't help slow me down, either. When I filled up my gas tank in Cheyenne, I'd ridden almost 160 miles on 4 gallons of gas...in about 2 hours. Riding that fast back home would drop my MPG's down to about 32 miles per gallon...that must have been some tail wind...or maybe I just finally started going downhill. :)

Last bit for today...I promise. I experienced two temperature shifts today that were totally unexpected. I was about 50 miles out of Green River when the first one occurred. I was cruising right along, and plenty cold, when I topped at small rise in the highway and felt an immediate increase of probably 5 degrees in the temperature. It went from being cold to being cool, in an instant. The next change came about 15 miles west of Cheyenne. I was surprised that it was cool enough out that I was still riding comfortably with my coat and a sweatshirt on. That all changed when I topped another small rise in the highway. It went from being cool to being hot in less than 2 miles. Not just take the sweatshirt off hot, it was take the sweatshirt and the coat off kinda hot. That's a pretty dramatic shift from being comfortable in them. I'm even pretty sure it was an actual temperature shift and not menopause, just in case you were wondering. I'm used to having stuff like that happen as I approach a large body of water, especially on an hot day. You'll be riding along and the temperature will drop 10 degrees in a mater of a just a mile or two. I've never had that kind of shift happen out in "the middle of nowhere" especially when it didn't seem like there was that big of a change in elevation taking place. Weird. That's all.

Tomorrow is another day and another road. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated, which means I read them all and then approve them for posting.

Chad Cole