Monday, September 23, 2013

Day 68: Cheyenne to Salt Lake City

446 miles, 7 hours estimate on iPad mapper

Although we usually like to keep our driving day around five hours, the way towns are spaced out in Wyoming, we couldn't avoid a seven-hour drive today.

Cheyenne is on the east side of Wyoming, so the route to Salt Lake City, I-80, crosses most of the state. The country is high desert: very dry, very little vegetation or habitation, flat but crossed by ravines.

Within minutes of our getting on the highway, we passed a large warning sign that spelled out in lights:


Dan slowed down a little and stayed in his lane. The wind buffeted the car broadside from the south as we headed west, with occasional gusts that gave us an extra bounce. His knuckles grew white from gripping the wheel.

The lighted highway warning signs kept appearing, but the car held the road. For about an hour, the sky was dark and rain kept the wiper flip-flapping. In the distance, we could see that the sky was lighter, and we were heading toward a patch of blueness. Eventually, the blue sky expanded all around us, and the clouds traded their threatening grey for jolly white.

But the wind continued to blow, with even stronger gusts, according to the highway signs.

                                                 HIGH WINDS. GUSTS AT 50+MPH.

The sky was dark and heavy and rain kept the wiper flapping. This went on for about an hour, but we could see the sky lightening ahead, gradually getting a little blueness, the blue sky expanding and the clouds doffing their threatening grayness for jolly white puffs, and then we were out of the storm, except for the wind, which had gusts up to 50+ mph, according to the signs.

The highest mountain pass was about 8600 feet. We crossed the Continental Divide.

To break up the day we stopped in Rock Springs for a nice lunch at the restaurant in the Best Western Outlaw Inn. We had stayed there on a previous trip. They appeared to have the only good restaurant in town, and there were plenty of locals there to give us hope. In fact, the food was excellent. The vegetable beef soup was exceptionally tasty, and meaty enough to make a meal. We both had the sole and a double serving of fresh oven-roasted zucchini.

Then it was back onto the windy highway.

As soon as we got into Utah the earth got red and started rising in rough cliffs, reefs and other formations. We stopped at a view spot in the Wasatch mountains, just outside of Salt Lake City. The wind had finally died down enough that we could walk around and take pictures. It was beautiful.

We felt relieved and triumphant when we finally got into Salt Lake City: seven hours of driving in high wind!

Our Hampton Inn is just through the Wasatch mountains, in the foothills above Salt Lake City, with views of the mountains all around us. For dinner we walked across the busy Foothill boulevard at great risk to dine at a restaurant called Boulevard Bistro. The food was good and we liked the hip ambiance—not raucous hip, but cool, like art deco.