We arrived in Alpine last night after a long day of driving from Sidney, NE. We took I-80 all the way from Sidney to the exit just after "Little America" (a distance of about 400 miles) - which is the name of a very fancy truck stop west of Rock Springs, WY (e.g., it has "17 marble showers" for truckers). Unlike VT where a travel plaza would usually offer a choice of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee, at Little America the choice is between caffeinated and super-caffeinated (no decaffeinated)! I guess in the west, decaffeinated coffee is for wimps. However, it also has a good selection of postcards, toys and offers 50-cent soft-serve ice cream cones - Ellen and I shared one.
There was a point west of Cheyenne, WY where the visibility was almost zero for a stretch and we wondered if we would have to turn back, but Ellen soldiered on, and from there on, the visibility was ok, and the road surface was clear and dry for the most part (although there were warnings of "slick spots" along the way - due to blowing snow across the road). But the big problem was cross-winds - gusts up to 50+ according to the warning signs, though I'm not sure we ever experienced that. Ellen had to keep both hands firmly on the wheel, that's for sure! The Subaru held the road well - it is heavier than the Toyota and lower to the ground than an average SUV would be. It wasn't dangerous driving, but it wasn't relaxed for the driver either. We were able to listen to NPR much of the distance, interspersed with my reading aloud from Secret Water, so the miles flew by.
The exit after Little America was Exit 66 - Route 30 west. It goes up to Kemmerer, WY, then turns north at Sage, WY and over to Montpelier, UT (we left it at the Utah border and went due north up to U.S. 89). Just out of Kemmerer we hit another white knuckle stretch of zero visibility due to blowing snow, and once again we wondered if we should turn back and go into a motel at Kemmerer. It was by now late afternoon - about 5:30pm - the light was waning, and we were about 130 miles from Alpine - tantalizingly close! We decided to keep going and in just a few miles, everything improved dramatically - visibility was good, the road was dry. By the time we got to Smoot, WY - the southern Star Valley (which is the valley Alpine is at the northern end of) it had started to snow, but that did not cause a real problem. It did not seriously affect visibility or road surface. That latter leg of the trip from US 30 up to Alpine, we hooked my computer into the tape deck of the car and listened to iTunes in "shuffle" mode - which means it randomly selects items to play from the thousands in my iTunes library. That is always enjoyable because you never know what you'll get next, and there is a huge diversity of tunes in the library - sometimes it's an old favorite, sometimes a total surprise - "I didn't know we had that!" We got to Alpine at about 8pm, and we found that they had had a lot of recent snow there - over a foot for sure. So it was close to a twelve hour day of driving, and over 550 miles, under not the best of conditions.
But we made it, we had a wonderful bowl of Jenny's white bean chile on arrival, Max was still up and gave us a warm and joyful welcome, as did Paul and Jenny, and we talked for a while, catching up on their lives, and then to bed. We'll take it easy today.