Feb 16, 2010

I Can Still Make Cheyenne

Monday 15th - Day 8

This blog has become less and less about music. I'm becoming more preoccupied with tales of near-death experiences. I'm hoping by the time we get past the Rockies we'll be in kinder climes. The rain of Seattle will remind me of Manchester and all will be well again.

I was concerned about what would happen today, already a little anxious about driving on these roads in these conditions surrounded by crazy drivers. Then the Weather Channel had footage of a 43 car pile up on a bridge in Kansas City that looked insane.

But we didn't want to stay here. Besides we have a schedule to stick to. We're due to land in Seattle at the home of another Postcarder on Saturday. If we were to lose a day then it would make it much more of an inconvenience to stay with someone who had to get up for work early the next morning. I know, it's one of the drawbacks of being a free-loader. So the schedule said we had to make it to Cheyenne in Wyoming by the end of the day. Bad news... that's 477 miles away. Good news... it's just one road. Bad news... it was the road that got closed yesterday, has drifting snow and crazy drivers.

Inspired by the George Strait song I Can Still Make Cheyenne we left the motel at 8am, the earliest start yet. The temperature was 13°F which was bad for two reasons: A) That's minus 10.5° C which is the coldest daytime temperature I've ever experienced. And B) I do have a touch of triskaidekaphobia. Daunted, we set out to join the slow moving line of pussies on I-80. A line that grew steadily as, in the 20 miles it took us to reach Lincoln, we saw at least 20 vehicles in the ditch or the meridian. One of which was an overturned Ford pickup truck and another a mangled semi. For the first two hours of the day we did less than 80 miles. It was very tense. And then we both nearly had coronaries when a lump of ice about the size of a cricket ball flew off the back of a tow truck (driven at speed by a crazy in the outside lane) and smashed straight into our windscreen. It didn't break the windscreen but I couldn't tell if there was a chip in glass. Paranoia took hold and I didn't want to use the windscreen washer in case it cracked the glass. So now not only were we experiencing a living death in the slow lane we had to peer out of a snow and crud encrusted windscreen too.

At a conservative estimate I'd say we saw at least 50 vehicles wrecked or abandoned on I-80. It was really hurting my brain to understand why. But then an Iowa native explained, "Wise and prudent drivers are able to stay on the road in weather even much worse than this. The nob-washes that end up in the ditch are often folks who were born around here and falsely believe that they are genetically pre-disposed to have excellent winter driving skills, and therefore drive as fast as they like regardless of the road conditions. When I see ditched cars a sense of Darwinistic superiority wells in my chest. Winter driving skills are a myth. Fear is the rule on the road".

Good to know. And now I can feel self-satisfied again. And enjoy driving through the state.

Back on the road things were getting better... as we headed further west the weather cleared, the snow in the fields started to thin out and the flat Nebraska landscape transformed from a desolate frozen nightmare into a benign if dull rural plain. We started to breathe again. And pulled into a rest station to test the windscreen. It passed.

Ten minutes later we were back on the road. Twelve minutes later we both shat ourselves when a chunk of ice about the size of a paving slab flew off the top of a truck and headed at speed straight for the windscreen. We instinctively cowered as it homed in. We instinctively screamed as it smashed against the glass. I instinctively swore blue bloody murder. And then instinctively patted myself on the back for ditching the Cobalt and upgrading to this truck when I saw that the window was still intact. It was the biggest spike of adrenalin I'd had since East St Louis. I am so ready to do an endorsement for the GMC Terrain.

By the time we reached Wyoming the snow was completely gone, as was most of the traffic, and the landscape had ceased to be rural. It was now more like the rough rolling grass plains that I'd describe as moorland. Like the Pennines or Northumberland. Though unlike those beloved Northern English badlands, the sky was blue and big and the sun was yellow and big. And on the far western horizon, sketched in the faintest shade of grey... a massive mountain range. (I'm presuming they are the Rockies.) Wyoming was seducing me.

Cheyenne was a little disappointing though. It's not a good sign when a city doesn't seem to have a downtown. But the people were really friendly - a sign of living in the least-populated state in the union I guess. You run in to people being dicks a lot less often and so you are nicer. It's enough to make people whistle.

Why do people put videos of themselves doing covers on youtube? Seriously?

The Diary of Frigid Bones: A massive change, but then we did cover nearly 500 miles. From 13°F (-10.5°C) this morning to a giddy 38°F (3.3°C) by mid afternoon in Wyoming.


  1. First my beloved Dolorean and now the underappreciated-by-music-geeks George Strait. Way to get on my good side. Unfortunately, I don't know why an Oregonian chose to set his murder/suicide song in Hannibal. If I ever learn, I'll let you know.

    Glad you guys made it out of Nebraska safely. If nothing else, you're certainly getting an appreciation for the size of our country as compared to yours.

  2. I hope it's connected to Hannibal's self proclaimed status as "America's Home Town." I think he means it's un-American to study writing.

    And yes, George Strait is under valued.

  3. George Strait is of course only undervalued by indie-rock hipsters like you, Ged dear. He's a superstar in the country music world.

  4. But so is Toby Keith... I need a second opinion. If only I could find an alternative to the indie-rock hipsters. Wonder what the hard core crowd would make of George?

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