All good things must come to an end, we just didn’t get to finish playing…
Be forewarned – the next few days will have blog posts that are out of sequence since we ended up home a little early. And these are all cellphone photos – story, not quality…
We had planned not to be home for a couple more days, but we’re very respectful of Mother Nature.
One of our key travel items on this trip has been keeping an eye on the weather along I-70 at the Vail Pass and Eisenhower Tunnel, since bad weather shuts down I-70 and that is our only route home unless we detour hundreds of miles down to New Mexico or up to Wyoming.
We hadn’t been keeping an eye on Estes Park weather though, which would have been smart since we live at 7,300 feet and our driveway is a north-facing slope with little sun exposure, up a set of steep switchbacks. If things get bad at home, we’re leaving the Pod somewhere in the flatlands so we can get up the drive with tire chains on.
As luck would have it, this crazy storm blowing in not only is creating havoc all across I-70 and the high mountains, it’s bringing crazy wind (110mph recorded in Boulder and 89mph recorded in Glen Haven) and potentially massive amounts of snow.
We had just settled into our boondocking campsite outside Goblin Valley State Park in Utah yesterday, finally got some cell service, and saw the weather. It didn’t take much for us to make the decision to pull chocks and roll. 8-12 fresh inches of snow at home would make for a complete mess.
The intent was to make it to the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont, or really anywhere east of the mountain passes. But Mother Nature puts the smackdown on impatient or negligent travelers – as we approached Glenwood Springs we started seeing the warning billboards – I-70 shutdown at Glenwood Canyon – milemarker 116 – 131.
Frantic checking the Colorado DOT website and app (which are terrible), we finally determined that this was indeed correct, with no estimated time for reopening due to a 24 vehicle pile-up blocking the roadway. When there’s a single road going between tall mountains, there is no detour.
The choices are to sit on the freeway and wait indefinitely, or pull off and take your chances.
We pulled into a Holiday Inn Express in Glenwood Springs and lucked out with a room for the night. We could have slept in the Pod, but the hotel felt like a good idea since it was absolutely dumping snow outside and we didn’t know what more weather was coming.
They finally cleared the highway, and we got on the road about 0630 this morning. Huge fat snowflakes, high elevation, and blowing winds make for really crappy travel conditions.
DOT mandated all commercial vehicles put on chains over both mountain passes, and we actually pulled over at the Vail Pass chain-up station and debated throwing ours on. I felt pretty comfortable with the conditions at slow speed, so we rolled along without them.
I’m not exactly known for driving slowly, but I was shocked watching people tailgating and driving way above safe speeds – this is exactly why those 24 vehicle pileups happen.
We finally made it to the other side of the passes, and you go from whiteout conditions to sunshine and dry roads within minutes. I’m sure people were looking at us covered in snow wondering where we came from.
More fun – 3 massive fires in the foothills, the high winds knocked down powerlines and started grass fires. When we pulled into the Boulder County Fairgrounds to dump our holding tanks, there was an Evacuation Check-In station setup for receiving livestock that was being evacuated from the burn area. Crazy.
But… home in one piece. Happy to be tucked in with a roaring fireplace, while we see news of Rocky Mountain National Park entrances being completely closed due to whiteout conditions, Winter Storm Warnings, the list goes on. Amazing that 40 miles from whiteout snow conditions people are losing their homes to wildfires. Carpe diem!
Nice Peaceful Site
Eight to Twelve
Chain Law Enforced
Brown and Blue
On the Road
Just Like That
Chain Up Time
Smart people put on their chains here
Watching the snow flinging from the Pod tires