Mountains and wind and wildfires, oh my!

Regular readers of this forum know by now that I tend to be fairly lazy about my driving. By which I mean, miles that don’t have to be run until tomorrow generally are left to be run tomorrow. Friday was no different.

I got the loaded trailer straight from the dock at ConAgra in Council Bluffs, Iowa in the late afternoon. Since the cargo was only 32,000 lbs or so there was no reason to scale out and I hit the pavement heading west. By 2100 or so I was nearing Lexington, Nebraska (which regular readers also know is home to My Favorite Wal-Mart) and I decided to pack it in for the night.

Now, I probably should have gone on for a few more hours. The trip out to California is 1,520 miles or so and if I had done only 450 or so my task on Saturday and Sunday would have been easier. But, this is a load with a 1400 appointment out in California so there isn’t much need to rush, so the miles left to run were left to run, so to speak.

Saturday morning I was up bright and early (it sure is bright around 10 AM) and I mushed west some more. After five hours or so I made it to Denver and fueled up at the Pilot then continued on I-70 across the Eisenhower and Vail summits. For those of you from elsewhere on the planet not familiar with the Rockies, they are a big-ass range of mountains that divides the far western US from the midwest. This photo, taken several years ago from over 12,000 feet shows the tops of some of these mountains:

Even with the average weight load I was hauling my small engine struggled mightily to climb up the steep grades and my fuel economy sucked badly until I got to the far side.

As darkness was falling I decided to stop at a rest area in Fruita, Colorado. I managed to park next to a “WWE” wrestling truck with large photos of various entertainers plastered on the side. If that is how they get around no wonder they look pissed off all the time.

I awoke to moderate winds this morning and as I made my way west along I-70 the intensity kept building. By the time I made Richfield, Utah and pulled off to use the little driver’s room some of the gusts were 35-45 MPH with lots of dust and grit in the air. There was even a whiff of something burning and my eyes were starting to water.

For a while I thought maybe it was smoke from the fires out in the southern California area but that didn’t make sense given the distance I was at. Eventually, I came across a large wildfire in the southern part of Utah near the border with Arizona and that explained the smell.

Today’s driving concluded at a truck stop in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was considering driving another hour or so but, you know, those damn lazies caught up with me again.