Friday, November 16, 2007

Driving Into a Hole

I think I've mentioned, a time or two, that since leaving Washington DC it's been generally getting colder. Mostly it's been nice autumnal weather, with highs ranging from the high 60s to the mid 50s, dipping down into the 40s at night.

Oddly, we happened to hit Fort Collins during what amounts to a heat wave for them at this time of year: temps occasionally topped 70 during the day -- and though the nights got a bit chilly, we were never at risk of needing anything more than sweaters. At best.

All that changed as we left Colorado and headed into Wyoming on Nov. 11th. At first, we seemed to be seeing the same pleasant-but-modest highs and lows as we had seen in Colorado, and as you can see in this picture gallery, everything looks pretty green and verdant.

But then we smacked headlong into ... the Rockies.

As we climbed upwards in altitude, reaching a peak of nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, fall changed miraculously and suddenly into WINTER. Not just cold, snowy windy blood-chillingly cold. Around every curve of every peak, we half-expected Santa to pop out from behind a bush and welcome us to the North Pole.

We're not talking a little ice on the ground, we're talking omfg-we're-in-The-Shining weather. We were awfully glad the Winstar had traction control, because although it was kind of thrilling and delightful to head up the mountains, coming down the icy roads was definitely white-knuckle time. Seven-percent grades are enough to burn out a truck's brakes in summer, imagine how treacherous this was with a snowstorm going on in front of you. With no sunlight, either ("day" seems to call it quits at 5pm now)!

Still, we got down the range safely and proceeded into Jackson (aka Jackson Hole), the resort town that's probably (as far as we can see) the sole reason people come to Wyoming. Only we're arriving here just as the off-season is blooming. More next time.