Wow – today was interesting!
I had set my alarm to get up at 9am, but was awaken when housekeeping knocked on the door at 8:30am. That seems awfully early for housekeeping to start cleaning rooms. Since I was awake, I just got up.
I left the hotel around 9:15am and headed for the highway (I25), which was open. But the wind had definitely picked up. According to The Weather Network, it was gusting up to 47 km/h — that’s equivalent to about 30 mph. Yet, when I got on the highway, one of the message boards said it was gusting above 50 mph. Based on what it felt like when I was driving, I definitely think the 50+ mph was more accurate. (I wonder why The Weather Network’s info for Wheatland is so off?)
While it was windy, it was maybe -10C with the windchill, which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that cold. But, as the wind blew snow across the highway (from west to east), the snow was almost instantly forming ice on the pavement. But not on every part of the highway, only certain sections. So one second you were driving on dry pavement and the next second on icy pavement. And one second the wind would be slightly lower and then it would gust and send the car to the left. My arm was quite sore fighting the steering wheel to keep the car headed straight!
The highway was also quite empty, which was good. I didn’t have to worry about cars ahead or behind me being too close. And I could drive in either lane. At times there was so much blowing snow that I couldn’t see more than 20-50 feet ahead of me! Needless to say, it was a slow drive.
And … it got even slower when they closed the highway (again) about 20 miles from Wheatland. It was closed due to an accident, but the accident seemed to have happened under an overpass, so we were able to get off the highway at that exit, and go up and over the overpass to the entrance ramp on the other side and get back on the highway. Except, I didn’t know that immediately. First I pulled over with a dozen other cars and trucks all waiting to see what would happen. Eventually I took the chance and drove up the exit ramp to see what was going on, and managed to get back on the highway.
BTW, while stopped on the exit ramp, I was right in the path of the wind blowing from the west. The car was being buffeted quite a bit, it was a little unnerving. As I sat there, I began to wonder how strong the wind would have to be to knock over a stationary Subaru Forester. Whatever it is, it’s more than 50 mph! (I googled it, but I can’t find an answer.)
After I got back on the highway, there were more cars, so I had to go even slower. But I liked having a big truck in front, which I could see through the blowing snow. I don’t think I went over 60 km/h for 45 mins or more. According to the map, it should take an hour to get from Wheatland to Cheyenne, but I think it took me over 2 hours.
The most interesting part of that drive? The fact that the car actually slid sideways when the wind gusted and the road was icy. I’ve never had that happen to me before! It was … interesting.
I filled up with gas in Cheyenne and got a coffee, then kept going. It was still windy, but not as bad, and there was no more blowing snow at this point. But, I swear, as soon as I crossed the border into Colorado, it was 6C and no wind! (And I could finally see mountains again, Gandalf, mountains.)
I ended up driving to the Castle Rock outlet mall since I couldn’t check into the hotel until 3pm. My time at Eddie Bauer was a massive success!
While driving through Denver, still on the highway, I found myself having trouble breathing. What I don’t know for sure is if it was the altitude or just me being really tired! Needless to say, breathing using the techniques I learned in yoga helped significantly and it went away after about 30 mins. Since then I’ve been fine. Weird. (Note, I’ve been this high before, without the amount of stress I had on this trip from driving, and was fine.)
After shopping, I drove downtown and checked into my hotel, the Grand Hyatt Denver. The lobby sure is swanky! My rate included valet parking, so that made things easy. But, for the first time in my life, I had a porter (aka. bellhop) bring my bags up to my room. I just had too much stuff because it wasn’t packed effectively in the trunk of the car. It was quite the treat NOT to carry everything myself.
My room is really nice. Spacious. Cool furniture. Nice bathroom. Neat little extras (there’s all sorts of floor lighting that turns on when you walk). I’m on the 10th floor and I look to the west, I think. But because of where the hotel is located, I can only see other buildings, no mountains.
After unpacking (which included the three packages I ordered while still in Canada to be delivered here), I decided to have a nap. I haven’t had a nap since Sunday, and I’ve gotten into the habit of having a nap everyday at home!
When I woke up, I decided to order room service for dinner. I was (and still am) in no mood to go out. I’m tired and just want to relax. Dinner was really good — salad, pizza, and apple crisp for dessert. After the last 3 days of driving through that interesting weather and boring scenery, I figured I deserved it! Plus, it was nice to have had some retail therapy earlier.
I’m all ready for tomorrow, but I’m going to have no choice but to wear jeans. Sorry Climate Reality Project, it’s all I have. But I can look very presentable with jeans, so hopefully no one says anything.
What I Learned:
- Not all McDonalds’ have cinnamon melts. The McDonalds in Cheyenne didn’t have them available.
- The Outlets at Castle Rock are empty on Wednesday afternoons.
- Eddie Bauer is having a great sale right now. 30% off everything, or 40% off everything if you have a membership.
- Having stuff shipped to a hotel is actually pretty common.
- The light-up make-up mirror in my room doesn’t work.
- My USB keys don’t work in the USD port for the LG TV in my room.
- Denver is larger than I expected. But, it has a smaller population than Edmonton. And both Edmonton and Denver are the capitals of their respective provinces/states.
- All Arc’Teryx jackets look the same, but must be made of different things because they cost anywhere was $200 USD to over $500 USD (at the outlet store).
- The mountains aren’t as close to Denver as I thought they would be, although they are closer (I think) than the mountains are to Calgary.
- Colorado (the parts I’ve seen anyway) seem very neat and tidy. Everything seems very orderly. I don’t know why I noticed this!
- Colorado must have built an invisible forcefield between itself and Wyoming to keep the Wyoming weather out.
- There is a recycling bin in the hotel room here in Denver.
- I’m tired.
I miss my cats! Lori (my cat sitter) said she’s discovered just how tricky it can be to give Pippin her medication. Pippin is really awesome at sitting patiently with her mouth closed and NOT swallowing, pretending she has swallowed, so you’ll let her go and she can spit out the pill! I’ve developed a method, but it’s not perfect. Oddly, she doesn’t actually try to jump down, she just wiggles a lot.
I’m really grateful I have the pet cam at home. I put it in my bedroom this time and every time I’ve checked, someone has been on my bed sleeping. I’ve been talking to them and playing with the red dot. Did I mention I miss my cats? (I could have used Pippin’s calming powers today while driving!)
I’m looking forward to tomorrow, even though I have no idea what to expect!